Claire Sewell (2015), "Revolutionizing the Development of Library and Information Professionals: Planning for the Future", Library Management, Vol. 36 No. 6/7, pp. 543-544. https://doi.org/10.1108/LM-06-2015-0040
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
There are many books available on professional development for library and information staff so new titles must offer something different to stand out from the crowd. In the introduction to this book, editor Hines makes it clear that she intends to produce something more than the standard “how-to” approach used in similar works. This book features contributions from practitioners on various aspects of career development, for both the new and the more experienced professional. Looking at development across a range of sectors there is bound to be something to take away for all readers.
The book is composed of short journal style chapters from a variety of those involved in the profession, from employees to members of professional associations offering development opportunities. The text is arranged in journal style columns rather than across the page which can make it difficult to read. Much like journal articles each chapter starts with a short abstract which helps the reader to quickly ascertain if it is relevant to their needs. An extremely detailed contents list also helps with this, saving valuable time for the reader. All chapters include a literature review at the start and end with a comprehensive bibliography and suggestions for further reading. This enables the reader to follow up on points mentioned and explore topics of interest in more depth. There is also an overall reference list at the end of the book so readers need not consult each chapter individually. Some chapters feature the outcome of research undertaken by the author(s) and include appendices which detail the research instruments used. Definitions and explanations of key terms are clearly set out which is especially helpful for those new to the topic. As a final aid to navigation the chapters are organised into themes such as modes of professional development and opportunities developed by library associations. This links related topics together and again saves the reader time.
As the contributors are all practitioners there is very much a focus on sharing knowledge rather than theory. Each chapter focuses on the outcome of a project in a specific sector but there is a good balance represented. Even though the case studies are sector specific it is clear to see how they could work in a different environment and contributors also highlight their adaptability. As all the contributors are based in the USA there is a slight cultural bias but to their credit the authors do acknowledge this. The chapters cover a wide range of content, often comparing internal and external opportunities rather than focusing on just one. I was particularly impressed that the importance of development for all levels was highlighted rather than just the usual focus on new professionals.
There are many useful suggestions for those new to providing development opportunities. A particularly helpful chapter on “Providing professional development opportunities to staff in tough economic times” offers tips on how to budget training. Cost cutting methods are further highlighted in other chapters, such as holding in-house conferences. The contributors acknowledge that there may be constraints – both time-based and financial – to staff development and rather than gloss over these they propose innovative solutions which can be adapted to different circumstances. Alongside traditional methods of development such as courses, newer concepts such as unconferences and journal clubs are discussed which gives people something different to try. The benefits of intergenerational learning are explained, again emphasising that professional development can happen at all levels. Tips on offering development opportunities are also given such as how to organise a great conference. As more library and information professionals become involved in projects such as this this chapter is a very welcome addition.
I would recommend this book to all information professionals with an interest in their development or that of others. Those newly responsible for development would find it particularly useful for its practical and insightful tips. Hines claims that she wanted to provide a collection that offers something more than the standard professional development text and with this book’s broad appeal and wealth of useful ideas she certainly succeeds.