''To each man is reserved a work which he alone can do.''
This quotation from Susan Blow is the parting shot and essential distillation of Ronald Gross's evocative ''Independent Scholar's Handbook.''
Mr. Gross prods thinkers and readers and scientific putterers who exist on or beyond the fringes of academe into the satisfaction of sharing their ideas by publishing, speaking, and teaching.
The book is cram full of specific know-how, from the names and addresses of the country's best browsing bookstores and libraries on to grantsmanship and groupmanship and how to get a university press at least to read your manuscript.
It tells those who have never entered a university's ivied walls how to arm themselves with such scholastic musts as proper footnoting, how to use data bases, how to attend a conference. It urges one to develop one's own learning network of colleagues and peers, citing Ivan Illich, who calls his ''Dear Peer'' correspondence his ''invisible university.''
The book does not avoid universities. An individual connected in some way with an institution stands a better chance of being heard.
The book profiles several independent scholars who have made it big. Barbara Tuchman, the eminent historian, advises that taking your own notes helps in digesting the material as you go along.
Eric Hoffer keeps an ''Intellectual Journal'' as a means of sluicing the mind.
John Gardner, when newly appointed as head of the former Department of Health , Education, and Welfare, told Mr. Gross that his challenge was the untapped minds of the nation. They reminded him of the gold miners' tales in his youth about mines worked a little while and then abandoned - often just at the point of discovery.
Buckminster Fuller recounts the turning point in his life, when he realized the absolute necessity for independence of thought as opposed to relying on the opinions of others. ''Whether I like it or not, I am the caretaker of a vital resource - me.''
Many obscure independent scholars are vital contributors in their own bailiwicks. John Snyder is an amateur cartographer who figured out how to map the earth from a satellite.
Hazel Henderson, housewife, noted one day while tending her baby in the park that the air reeked. She researched the communication laws regarding the media's obligations to serve the public interest and ultimately gave us the air pollution index on the nightly news.
This stimulating handbook is fun to read, but also includes the nuts and bolts:
* A good basic book list.
* Addresses for funding information.
* A listing of cooperating library collections.
* A list of the university presses.
* The basics on copywriting your work.