Book Review . . . Alternative Careers

I recently read What’s the Alternative? Career Options for Librarians and Info Pros by Rachel Singer Gordon (2008). I thought it was an excellent read and was full of useful information for anyone considering a career outside of the traditional library setting. At 288 pages, it is easy to get through in a short amount of time (I spent an evening flipping through and reading parts of the book).

This book is for everyone – from someone considering work in the information profession, to new graduates trying to find that first job, to the experienced professional who is seeking a new challenge. Gordon accompanies you throughout your journey of exploration, providing guidance, questions to ask your self, and tips. I found the little stories by people who had taken the leap to be inspiring. Librarians and information professionals come from many different backgrounds, and this book demonstrates how these different backgrounds can be used to carve out an information career for yourself.

The book begins with an analysis and questions for the readers to ask themselves as to who is ready to make the leap. Then it goes on to talk about organizations that serve libraries and librarians, such as vendors. For those of you who are interested in organizations that share the love of books, the next section explores some of these options such as publishing. The next two chapters explore striking out on your own and setting up your own business. If setting up your own information based business doesn’t sound like something you want to do, then there is the option of a career in the information sector. Records Information Management, Knowledge Management, and Information Architecture are just some examples. Perhaps you can take your information skills to other professions. One that intrigued me was working as a paralegal, as the researching and organizing information are two aspects of librarianship that I love. There are options for careers in IT. Gordon wraps up with advice for those coming back to a traditional library or information career, as she provides advice for those wishing to pursue education in the library and information field.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is considering what to do next in their career. Full of suggestions and inspiration from people who were in the same position the reader might be in, I would suggest it is required reading for library and information professionals. Being unhappy in your current position, having your position cut, or not being able to break into the job market does not seem so hopeless with this resource at your side.

Personally, I’m still interested in a traditional library career at the moment, but I am keeping an open mind after having read this book. There are lots of potential avenues that one can take, and I am even more enthusiastic to start my information career!

For more information about this book, check out this link to the book from

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