NOTE: No new column for the 18th because I'm in the middle of a major writing project. However, I've been reading Tim Berners-Lee and thinking about how much the web as he envisioned it resembles the odd workings of the human brain, with its remarkable ability to make bizarre connections and illogical leaps, so perhaps you might be interested in reading a column I wrote a while back called "Tar Baby," about the insane cataloger inside our heads who's in charge of retrieving memories. It's at http://marylaine.com/myword/tar.html
REVIEW: THE INFORMATION PROFESSIONAL'S GUIDE TO CAREER DEVELOPMENT ONLINE
Sarah L. Nesbeitt & Rachel Singer Gordon. Information Today, 2002. 1-57387-124-9 $29.50 Supporting web site: http://www.lisjobs.com/careerdev. [To order, go to http://infotoday.com/catalog/books.htm.] Reviewed by Marylaine Block.One of the first things you want to know about a book is why you should believe the author[s]. What we have here is two professionals who have demonstrated their expertise in both the internet and career development by building well-known and greatly-appreciated web sites to help librarians find work; Sarah Nesbeitt operates Library Job Postings on the Internet [http://www.libraryjobpostings.org/], and Rachel Singer Gordon operates Lisjobs.com http://lisjobs.com/, where she also offers a free newsletter, Info Career Trends. Furthermore, Rachel is staking her own future on her own advice -- having used the net to make herself known in the library community, she has now quit her job to become an internet consultant (see http://www.bibliotechconsulting.com/).
The authors demonstrate that looking at online job postings is in many ways the least significant of the ways the net can advance your career. Whether you are an established professional or are just beginning to consider a career in librarianship, the net is an essential tool.
For librarian wannabes, there are chapters on finding LIS programs, on distance learning for both MLIS degrees and continuing education, and on finding financial assistance. Once you have the degree, you can check out their excellent advice on posting online resumes, looking for job listings, and researching the employment situations.
Once you've got the job, though, you can't rest on your laurels, because the information world is changing too fast. You have to keep rewriting that handout on search engines you were so proud of because they're changing, expanding or dying. You have to constantly develop new competencies. You might be asked to develop information taxonomies or an information literacy program, or find yourself assigned to be an "accidental systems librarian" (Rachel's own experience, which she described in a recent article).
The authors show you how to use current awareness tools on the net, like blogs, site announcement services, and listservs, to keep from being blindsided (at least three of the librarian blogs announced the death of Northern Light as a public search engine in the last couple of days). They introduce you to e-mail discussion lists where you can meet people, ask questions, and find mentors. (The authors are a real-life example of this: they met online because they operated similar web sites, and started collaborating on articles and this book well before they ever met in person.)
When you venture into online groups, you start leaving an impression of who you are whether you intend to or not. That's why it's important for you to control your online image and use it to advance yourself professionally. In the chapter on "online presence," the authors talk about creating web pages, blogs, discussion lists, and online resumes. [Disclosure: marylaine.com is one of the examples used.]
Finally, the authors demonstrate that the net is a place where you can make contributions to the profession, while incidentally enhancing your professional reputation. They talk about participation in professional associations and conferences, both online and off.
I spent over 20 years selecting career books for my library, and this is one of the most thorough and most readable books about career development that I've seen for any profession. Regardless of where you are on the career spectrum, there is information here that will enhance your professionalism and your career opportunities.
* * * * *
Creating a weblog will not only provide you with your own impetus for keeping up with news, articles, and sites relating to the profession, but will also give you the opportunity to express your point of view on professional issues. Weblogs are interesting partially because of the commentary provided by their creators. Site visitors are likely to respond to your comments either via e-mail or online, creating a forum for professional dialogue.
Sarah L. Nesbeitt & Rachel Singer Gordon. The Information Professional's Guide to Career Development Online Information Today, 2002.
* * * * *
You are welcome to copy and distribute or e-mail any of my own articles for noncommercial purposes (but not those by my guest writers) as long as you retain this copyright statement:
Ex Libris: an E-Zine for Librarians and Other Information Junkies.
Copyright, Marylaine Block, 1999-2002.
[Publishers may license the content for a reasonable fee.]