by Cassidy Charles, Senior Assistant, INALJ NYC
Rethinking Information Work: A Career Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals : A Review
I was attending a career panel hosted by the Reference Section of my state’s library association this past spring when a fellow early-career librarian mentioned a book that was helping them navigate job hunting and the beginnings of their career. Rethinking Information Work: A Career Guide for Librarians and Other Professionals, written by G. Kim Dority (who has been previously interviewed for INALJ), addresses what information and library work is and how a professional career is formed
Most library and information science graduate programs have an introductory course that introduces students to the field that they are endeavoring. Such a course may address the many directions that people will find their careers going in. From chief information officer to content manager or data services specialist to youth services librarian – there is tremendous variations under the heading of “Information Work.” Not all types of information and library work can be fully explored in the time frame of a semester or two. Rethinking Information Work is the companion textbook to that introductory course. Dority writes to no specific branch of the profession, but does not leave any potential track unexplored.
“Things Change” Dority aptly writes. Information and library work now is not what it used to be, and today’s professionals should keep in mind that their work and their personal objectives will change in the future. Rethinking Information Work is resource-rich tool. Spread through the guiding narrative is tables, worksheets, lists and current bibliographies that the reader can work through with their individual goals and skills in mind. For example, a mid-career professional can take stock of what they would like to learn using the “Your Education Map” which connects ideas to action.
To INALJ-seekers, the career-designing section is especially relevant. Whether you have just begun the overwhelming process of looking at job boards or are thinking about how you can more efficiently package yourself to prospective employers, Dority notes that building a base of self-knowledge is critical to efficiently job-hunting and career-building.
- What drives you as an employee?
- What part of this profession excites you?
- What skills do you offer an employer?
- What do you want to accomplish?
From there, narrowing down your focus is as important as considering your professional community. Information and library work is especially rich with different opportunities, so consider the professional community that you circulate in — or the one that you want to be in. Career-mapping and keeping a career journal are practices that Dority strongly encourages for identifying goals and strategizing how to reach them.
Rethinking Information Work is neither optimistic nor pessimistic — Dority is simply realistic and aware of the current market and issues facing information professionals of the 21st century. Regardless of what generation they entered the field in. Mid- to late- career professionals will relate to this text’s defense against career stagnation, and new and beginning professionals will under the mindset to be in while navigating the throes of information work.
Takeaway: Honest and general career guidance to any information and library career-seeker or professional.
Cassidy is a recent graduate of the Rutgers University MLIS program and a newly-hired Adult Services librarian for a public library in northern New Jersey. At one point in her job hunting phase, she worked at three libraries across three different counties. She enjoys trail running, sewing sock monkeys, and new comic book Wednesday. Follow her on Twitter or see what’s going on at her library at the blog Tales from the Book Drop.