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Needed: an information consultant.

For information management professionals working in large organizations, the idea of being an independent consultant can have universal appeal: working from home in your favorite sweatpants, choosing your own hours, and getting away from corporate politics. The reality of consulting as a career, however, can be extremely challenging and uncertain. Information Consulting: Guide to Good Practice offers a basic foundation for understanding the skills and talents required for success in this unique and growing field.

Information Consulting is co-authored by three individuals with ample academic and professional experience in library and information studies, information science, and IT. Irene Wormell, Annie Olesen, and Gabor Mikulas offer a broad and high-level perspective on the information consulting profession from their years spent working internationally. The publication is relatively short, simply worded, and easy to navigate as a practical handbook for assessing skills and establishing standards for an information consulting business.

The authors target the information consulting beginner and offer very little knowledge of the dynamics and processes involved in consulting. This is an unfortunate shortcoming, as much of Information Consulting reads as a fairly generic how-to guide on consulting best practices for all professionals. While effective communication, networking, and relationship building are described as essential skills for consulting success, these points will come as no surprise to readers who have even a basic understanding of essentials in the typical consultant-client relationship.

An entire section on business planning similarly reads as a quick guide for starting any new entrepreneurial venture. With all of their combined years of experience, it is disappointing that the authors do not distinguish this aspect of Information Consulting more clearly from other general consulting guides available in the marketplace today.

The authors' practical knowledge finally shines through in the final chapters, where they offer an impressive collection of real-client feedback and case studies. An overview of current issues in the information management industry, along with a discussion of changes affecting traditional librarian roles, covers some of the current issues facing information professionals.

At this point, the authors use straightforward and engaging language to illustrate the genuine challenges and possible routes to success in several real-life information consulting scenarios. This is an outstanding and truly beneficial section, as it offers the most particular and believable illustration of the complexity involved in consulting on information management issues as a profession.

Throughout Information Consulting, the authors reference an impressive collection of academic and media publications, including client surveys from existing information consultant partnerships. Readers will gain an extensive bibliography for further research on the information consulting industry.

Common measures for organizational dynamics, such as the Hofstede and Trompenaars scales, are also referenced as a way of placing the information consulting field in a broader business context alongside such issues as power distance, assertiveness, and uncertainty avoidance.

While the introduction of Information Consulting suggests that readers will receive an in-depth look at this unique branch of consulting services, the authors offer plenty of good, but wide-ranging, advice that could apply to anyone interested in starting a management consulting career.

Though the book will be most valuable as an initial starting point for understanding the idea of information consulting, more experienced readers will appreciate the real-life scenarios, practical checklists, and case study appendices. Perhaps the authors will consider issuing an expanded edition of this guide, offering more specific advice and recommendations directly from their own experiences as independent information consultants.

Clare Cameron can be contacted at clare.cameron@niagararegion.ca. See her bio on page 47.
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Title Annotation:Information Consulting: Guide to Good Practice
Author:Cameron, Clare
Publication:Information Management Journal
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Words:581
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