One of ALA's Most Popular Books

Renew Yourself - A Six Step Plan for More Meaningful Work
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Click this link to listen to the Library Leadership Podcast interview with Catherine Hakala-Ausperk!

Unplanned careers affect everything and everyone. They can lead to frustration, negativity, and apathy at a time when we need to be focused, energized and motivated. Though your library career might have started “accidentally,” you can overcome organizational restructuring, changing job titles, and shifting responsibilities by cultivating a mindful existence in the library workplace. Building on the simple and fun approach that have made her previous books bestsellers, Hakala-Ausperk offers up a workbook-style program for revisiting personal values, understanding your options, identifying skill gaps, and creating plans for growth. Whether you’re a library veteran who’s feeling burned out, a new LIS grad just starting out, or somewhere in mid-career, this book will

  • introduce methods to help you examine your individual interests, desires, and goals;
  • show you how to understand your workplace’s priorities and culture, and offer tips for identifying where there’s either a match or a gap;
  • demonstrate how you can improve your current position;
  • prepare you to move forward through the creation of a personalized strategic professional plan that addresses professional development, gaining additional experience, and other options for growth;
  • include tips for effective self-marketing, networking through colleagues and friends, and acing an interview;
  • present ways to stay happy and engaged in a new role or position; and
  • offer guidance for sharing your skills and experience through mentorship, and retiring with grace.

This topic is ideal for Staff Days! Why do you have them anyway, if not to renew your team members’ energies and focus? It’s also ideal for self-paced study (there’s a built-in worksheet that pulls Your Renewal Plan all together at the end) and it would work well for team-based staff development.

This six-step plan can help anyone renew themselves, their careers, and their organizations.


Renew Yourself: A Six-Step Plan for More Meaningful Work
Book Review by Caitlin Williams

(Published in the National Career Development Association (NCDA) Career Convergence Magazine (May 2017)

Overview of Book

The beginning of Renew Yourself, Catherine Hakala-Ausperk’s latest book, highlights the challenging questions most people ask themselves at some point in their careers.  What if I want something more from my work?  Is this all there is?  Where did my passion go?  Through her engaging, encouraging style, the author guides readers to find their own answers by providing a path that makes the renewal process clearer as she offers renewal strategies to help readers make smart choices and take positive action in their careers going forward.

“Feeling stuck” is often how our clients describe their situation when they are at a career crossroads, struggling to understand their boredom, burnout or sense of being plateaued.  And it’s at this moment that their beliefs about themselves –– their skills and their strengths –– often seem to desert them, leaving them unsure about how to move forward with confidence and optimism.

Hakala-Ausperk helps her readers get through this “stuck spot.”  By framing key questions as starting points, and offering self-exploration exercises in a workbook-like format, counselors may help readers  re-visit the qualities they value most, the strengths they already possess and the unique ways they wish to make a difference in their work.

Powerful Message on Meaning and Renewal

The three underlying messages of this book are all powerful, and reinforced throughout the chapters:

  1. self-renewal is possible;
  2. the process of self-renewal takes time and reflection and is best approached with a sense of curiosity, rather than impatience, and
  3. going through the process of self-renewal can lead to more meaningful work and the chance to make a difference.

The tools and the format the author uses to help readers move toward self-renewal are straightforward.  Self-exploration exercises are used to remind readers what is most important to them, and to help them discern differences between what might have been the skills they wanted to use in the past versus the ones that hold their attention right now.

Renew Yourself, written by a veteran library professional, is relevant and applicable to individuals across all professional lines. The need for self-renewal – and the benefits of doing so – is a common theme for all of us today.

Caitlin Williams, Ph.D. is a lifelong career development professional.  She has worked in organizations, career centers, outplacement firms, and private practice, as well as teaching career development topics to counselors at San Jose State University.  She can be reached at:

American Reference Books Annual (ARBA), June 1, 2017

Hakala-Ausperk, Catherine. Renew Yourself: A Six-Step Plan for More Meaningful Work. Chicago, American Library Association, 2017. 130p. index. $50.00pa.; $45.00pa. (ALA members). ISBN 13: 978-0-8389-1499-1.

There is no better time than now to explore new career paths, plan that adventure you’re dreaming about, or jump in to that degree work! Renew Yourself: A Six-Step Plan for More Meaningful Work, by Catherine Hakala-Ausperk, encourages readers to contemplate what they value and how to find happiness in work and life.

With 129-pages, divided into six chapters with the typical who, what, when, where, why, and how questioning, Hakala-Ausperk gives a step-by-step approach to discovering passion and value in our work. She states “Contrary to what most people grow up thinking, work and life are not mutually exclusive. Finding meaning in one—or lack thereof—is going to impact the other” (p. xvii). Following the six steps is a personal plan template, a solid bibliography listing books and digital links for further research, and a serviceable index.

Each chapter defines one step in the process of renewing. Initially, the author creates exercises where readers will reflect on who they are, their history, and their options for redirection. “Since the purpose of this book is to help you get excited about your future, you need to pick a path and chart a course that truly matters and feel, finally, refreshed and renewed to follow it” (p. 25). As your intentionality presents itself, steps will aid in providing focus; the sections Find Your Sweet (Work) Spot, Try Being Appreciative, and Learn Something, Anything New remind us to build our confidence piece by piece. This book never suggests that change and renewal is easy, but provides a logical process, with exercises, for understanding our individual passions, setting personal goals, and implementing an action plan.

Renew Yourself: A Six-Step Plan for More Meaningful Work is a professional development tool that is useful to librarians, career and life coaches, social workers, and others seeking a pathway to meaningful occupations.

Recommended.—Janis Minshull

Friday, March 17, 2017, by Kate M. Spaulding, San Jose State University, School of Information, Career Blog, “Renew Yourself and Your Career”

“Although I think it’s aimed more at mid-career professionals hoping to renew their work lives, Hakala-Ausperk’s plan could also apply to those considering a career change or students finding their way. The book guides you through the process of figuring out your career who? what? why? when? where? and how? It’s broken up into six short chapters – each corresponding to one of those questions – with guidance, tips, and stories. There are also questions to consider and some worksheets to fill out as you consider your path forward.

Right now, during this crazy-busy season in my life, this line struck me: “it’s not the standing still but the constant growth that helps us continually develop and our lives continually unfold” (p. 26). Yes! The craziness has a purpose! But seriously, yes, for by trying new things and learning new things we develop new skills. And those skills lead to new opportunities, new contacts, and new experiences, which, of course, help us develop more new skills. It’s an upward spiral that can even lead to new jobs or career directions.

If you’d like some guided, career self-reflection in your life, Renew Yourself is available from ALA(link is external), but you should, of course, check your local library first!”

Romany, Goodreads (gave it 5 stars)

This is a book specifically for librarians who feel as though they are at a career plateau. The book takes the reader through exercises to re-identify values and interests and gently directs towards a comprehensive plan for change. Although I feel quite happy in my job at the moment, I imagine this is a book I will come back to again in future.

Nicole Cunha, Goodreads (gave it 4 stars)

This is a book where you need to spend time reading the content and reflecting on your goals. I took two months to finish this not because life gets busy (which it does)- but there were multiple points where I had to ruminate with the goals I started with to see if they were attainable. Ausperk’s writing gave me hope that I’m on the right track (and a lot of quotes to keep for future reference), as well as allowed me to define and redefine my personal and professional goals. Highly recommend!

Gloria, Goodreads (gave it 4 stars)

This book targets the library professional, but it really is for anyone wanting to change the dynamics in their work life. Found this to be a bit of a recap of a number of other thinkers on this subject, such as Stephen Covey. Filled with exercises and a positive tone, it encourages a person to think about their values and interests while taking specific steps to accomplish them. So not 100% original, but a good summary of issues to think about when evaluating one’s career.

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