Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
I was very keen to read Your Career, Your Life as it is the first career‐planning book I have seen that focuses solely on the information professional. However rather than finding a book that showcases all of the different career options that are open to me, I found instead a book that looks at the psychological aspects of working in the information profession. Your Career, Your Life is not so much a guidebook for how to plan your career, but a manual on how to cope with and be prepared for the stresses that are part of the industry.
The book has articles on topics such as preparing for change and the support mechanisms that are available as you are navigating your path through these changes. It has a chapter on the philosophy of work and another on how to not take change and upheaval in your career personally.
A reoccurring theme throughout the book is “change” and how the information professional needs to work with the change. Angela Abell writes a very interesting chapter on the changing context of traditional library roles. Within the chapter she looks at what the employer is seeking in the information professional and shows that as an employee you need to be aware that what you are able to offer will not always be a match with what the employer is seeking. A challenge she argues, is for the information professional to keep building and expanding upon their skill set so that they can always offer something.
Rosanna Kendall follows this with an article that gives a set of principles, but not guidelines, on how to develop a career. Although the principles discussed were straightforward, e.g. we must be wiling to understand our organizations and ourselves more, this chapter did not give any clear idea as to how one could achieve this.
The book finishes with an article by Liz Roberts that looks at the psychological contract that is created between an individual and the organization. Roberts argues that a key skill of an information professional is to be aware when that contract is no longer working and at this point choose to move onwards. She also made the point that you need to have a realistic assessment of your own value to an organization rather than assume security based solely on your place within that organization.
Overall Your Career, Your Life has been an interesting read. It has reaffirmed what I already knew: that the nature of the organization and the world itself is constantly changing and that the information professional will have to change with it. It has also given me some new insights on the various dangers to the information professional that will lie ahead as I try to manage my career. After reading the book I still do not have a clear idea of where my career is heading, but I feel that I have some better questions to ask along the way.
The book has four contributors, all of whom are currently working in the UK and although the issues and themes discussed hold true for information professionals across the world, there is a definite UK emphasis. The appendices in particular would be limited in their value to someone living and working outside the UK and the case studies are interesting without necessarily being enlightening.