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How to Build Your Professional Library

Every consultant or freelancer is an expert in their particular field, but the vast majority of us have to worry about a lot more than just our clients’ projects. We have to know how to take care of our taxes, deal with basic accounting and legal issues, and more on a regular basis. Compiling your own professional library will come in handy time and time again when you can’t run to your public library for resources, and you should get started in building yours right away!

1. Gather Your Textbooks

Whether you’re still in college, or graduated decades ago, pull together any textbooks that you still have. No one remembers absolutely everything they learned in school, and this combination of basic and advanced resources can be the best way to start your library collection. Didn’t go to school? No problem! You can pick up copies of new and used textbooks online to have for reference.

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2. Visit Your Public Library

Choose a day or two that you can devote to library research. Browse book sections in your public library related to your field, general business, working for yourself, freelancing, consulting, accounting, taxes, business law, or any other resources that might apply to you. You can even check the books out, read them, and decide if you would want to reference the material on a regular basis, and whether or not the books are worth purchasing for your collection.

3. Use Online Library Services

Many public and school libraries subscribe to online library services, such as . Depending on what services your library signed up for, you may have access to audiobooks and / or e-books (electronic versions of books), and even some reference materials. You can find a lot of valuable resources there that you can access without stepping your foot outside your door.

4. Check With Professional Organizations

Oftentimes, professional organizations will recommend books, or even sell books on their website by industry professionals, that you can’t find anywhere else. Check organizations devoted specifically to your field for more in-depth resources, or general business or entrepreneurship-oriented organizations for more general titles.

5. Browse Online Booksellers

Online booksellers, such as carry more titles than most regular book stores, because they can carry highly specialized materials, and books that are only carried “on-demand” rather than being kept in stock. Most of these sites let you see a full table of contents, so you know what the books might teach you, and some even allow you to read a sample chapter, so you can decide if you like the style and tone of the book.

6. Visit a Brick and Mortar Bookstore

If looking at the table of contents and sample chapters online isn’t enough to convince you to buy a pricier title, head over to your local bookseller and leaf through an actual copy. You should be able to find more information in the book about the author and their credentials, as well as viewing any outlines, templates, or forms that the book contains. If it’s worth buying, it’s worth taking a look at first.

7. Never Call it Quits

It’s not likely that you’ll be able to purchase an entire professional library at once. Your library is something that you’ll continuously be building, as your industry and technology change, and you realize the neverending list of topics you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. Buy resources you know you’ll turn to over and over again, and build the most comprehensive collection that you can.


  • Choose books that cover a topic thoroughly, so you don’t need to buy several smaller books, usually at a greater cost.
  • Only buy a book if you like the author’s style and formatting enough that you won’t get annoyed every time you use it.
  • Try to buy books that offer you sample templates, forms, CD-roms, or other resources right within the book.


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