Taking Charge of Your Career: A Guide for Library and Information Professionals

Gina Nason (Independent Researcher, Gwent, UK)

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 27 September 2011




Nason, G. (2011), "Taking Charge of Your Career: A Guide for Library and Information Professionals", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 470-471. https://doi.org/10.1108/00330331111182139



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Career planning tends to be one of those tasks that we feel we ought to do and we promise ourselves that one day we'll get around to doing it. However, time goes by and we either drift into roles that look interesting, or react to situations without really assessing what we want out of our careers and how we are going to get it. This does not reflect everyone's position, but if this broadly relates to your own experiences then this book is a good starting point for helping you plan your career path.

Career planning helps give you a sense of direction, avoids career drift and helps you to react positively in times when you are faced with negative changes. It helps you be in control of the situation (or at least part of it), gives you the motivation to investigate new opportunities and encourages you to focus on new areas if required – you have already thought out what you wanted and planned how you are going to achieve it.

This book brings together the key features to enable you to plan where you want to go and how to make it happen. The first couple of chapters explain the benefits of planning your career, and give you the opportunity to assess your own personal preferences and skills. The work that LIS professionals do is wide and varied and the author, Joanna Ptolomey, provides some indication of the roles and sectors available. This is only an indication and a further assessment is available in other texts such as Gordon's What's the Alternative? (Gordon, 2008).

The second part of the book looks at ways of managing and achieving your career plan. The discussion ranges from coping with change, being able to adapt to circumstances, work‐life balance and keeping in touch with the LIS sector. The author raises other factors that cause pressures on career plans: the lack of time and career breaks. Ideas about how to manage your time better and how to get back into the workforce after a career break are discussed in detail.

Joanna Ptolomey also provides a discussion of the differences and similarities between management and leadership. She covers the skills needed and the behaviour traits of good managers and leaders. This is a fair assessment of the skills and abilities required in an often discussed subject. To round off, Joanna discusses the role of the independent information professional, looking at what they do, the skills required and how they maintain professional development. As with other topics in the book, this is an introduction to the concept and other texts discuss the issues in more depth.

The chapter that I thought was slightly out of context with the rest of the book was the one on project management. It goes through the key features and processes of project management and includes a short glossary of project management terms. However, the idea of project managing your career development makes sense in the context of planning, prioritising and keeping track of where you are heading.

One key feature that is discussed throughout is the need to think broadly. The use of mentors and networks to find out what other sectors are doing is as important as working out your own skills and preferences.

Joanna Ptolomey has written this in a chatty, personable style, relating extensively to her own personal experiences. However, while particular techniques may have suited the author, there was little discussion on alternative techniques that may be more suited to others. Scattered throughout the text are sets of tasks and reflection points, but there was little guidance on how to follow up on these exercises. I would also have liked to have seen more discussion on the role of online networks and resources. The networking landscape has changed and there are many new and different opportunities for career planning and progression available through these channels.

Aimed at early career professionals, this book gives you broad‐ranging issues to consider when planning your career. It provides step‐by‐step guidance to identifying key issues to address and how to fit things into your own circumstances. I would recommend this book as a good starting point, and it may give you the motivation to start planning your career.

Further Reading

Gordon, R.S. (2008), What's the Alternative? Career Options for Librarians and Info Pros, Information Today, Medford, NJ.

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