Book Review: The Information Professional's Guide to Career Development Online
The Information Professional’s Guide to Career Development Online Sarah L. Nesbeitt and Rachel Singer Gordon; Information Today, New Jersey, 2002.
As in many professions, the rise of the Web over the last 10 years has led to big changes in the librarian’s role. Indeed, this book’s usage of the name “Information Professional” reflects this change. So as the duties of a modern librarian now entail the regular use of the Internet in general, so too must the modern information professional adjust the management of their career to take advantage of the new opportunities it creates. The emphasis of the book is much broader than job seeking: the intention is to provide resources and help in developing a career.
Much of the subject matter at the start will be familiar to anyone using the Internet in daily professional life. However, the authors go into too much detail when explaining how to get connected to the Internet or how to create a plain ASCII format resume. Information of this kind seems out of place in a book like this and is better found in a general purpose beginner’s guide to the Internet.
While the early chapters are taken up with this kind of general advice, the book gets on to better ground when it starts talking about how to use the net to do something. Later sections covering education will bring many people up-to-date with an aspect of career development that may have changed considerably since they last took to studying. This includes a useful chapter explaining how to go about finding and securing grant money for study, and a very informative chapter on distance learning online. A further section is concerned with employment and contains a lot of good advice for using the net to advertise your resume and hunt down a new job. Most usefully, the authors include some great tips on how to research a possible career move. For example, how to compare salary information and how to check a prospective employer’s background.
The book is well laid out. Liberal use has been made of screen grabs and there are many boxes with interesting asides and illustrations to the main text. Works cited within the text are helpfully listed at the end of each chapter.
The three appendices cover a wide range of reference material. There is an exhaustive list of professional organisations, plus English language library related publishing outlets with an online presence (i.e. journals, newsletters and the like, including the esteemed Ariadne), and a good list of recommended reading. Much of this is also to be found on the website, which has been produced to accompany the book. This is however a very bare-bones affair, which simply reproduces all the links that appear in the book and not much else. This is a pity, as the website might have made a great showcase to demonstrate some of the book’s ideas: some interactivity would have been nice, along with greater general functionality.
The book is squarely targeted at a US audience. A sub-heading entitled “international sources” starts with the line “The advice just presented holds true for Canada as well the U.S provincial library associations…” which sums up the extent to which this book can be described as international. The vast majority of information within this book is firmly aimed within the borders of the USA.
To an aspirant young American preparing for a career in the information professions the book should prove quite useful, as indeed would anyone seeking further background information on the US library scene. Those further afield are likely to feel somewhat removed from the bulk of discussion within these pages. And at $30, one would have to think carefully if this book really delivers enough information for your dollar.