On being an information entrepreneur


There are dozens of outstanding online resources that focus on LIS careers. Below are starting points for further exploration.


Bates, Mary Ellen. Building and Running a Successful Research Business: A Guide for the Independent Information Professional, 2d ed. Information Today, 2010.
Bates’ book is basically required reading for anyone considering going independent as an information professional, regardless of whether that be as a researcher, indexer, taxonomist, content developer, or other type of information specialist.

de Stricker, Ulla and Jill Hurst-Wahl. The Information and Knowledge Professional’s Handbook: Define and Create Your Success. Chandos Information Professional Series, 2011.
These highly-respected, experienced authors provide detailed, practical career advice that comes across as a cross between coaching, mentoring, and okay, (in the nicest possible way), a bit of nagging. But it’s clear their goal is to help readers avoid career potholes if possible. To that end, the tone and format is strongly prescriptive, letting readers know in no uncertain terms how certain situations should be handled in order to help ensure career success.

Dority, G. Kim. Rethinking Information Work: A Career Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals. Libraries Unlimited, 2006.
Identifies what the options are, which ones might be of greatest interest to you given your personal attributes and values, and strategies and tactics for achieving your career goals. Focusing on strategies and tactics, the book’s goal is to help you build a sustainable, resilient career despite the unpredictable state of the profession.

Fourie, Denise K. and David R. Dowell. Libraries in the Information Age: An Introduction and Career Exploration, 2d ed. Libraries Unlimited, 2009.
Intended as an LIS course textbook, Libraries in the Information Age presents perhaps the most mainstream take on library work. It presents a thorough overview of types of libraries and librarians, plus their activities (collections, preparing materials for use, circulation, reference service, and evolving library services). Especially useful for those considering more tradition LIS paths.

Gordon, Rachel Singer. What’s the Alternative? Career Options for Librarians and Info Pros. Information Today, 2008.
Gordon focuses on a multitude of non-traditional (read: not public, schools, or academic) LIS roles, with an emphasis on identifying transferable skills and applying them to a variety of alternative jobs such as knowledge management, competitive intelligence, working for a vendor, or independent work.

Lawson, Judy, Joanna Kroll, and Kelly Kowatch. The New Information Professional: Your Guide to Careers in the Digital Age. Neal-Schuman, 2010.
An exceptionally detailed (and useful) look at career options in the emerging digital information world, with extremely useful “career maps” of related career paths for specific field, such as archives and preservation, records management, human-computer interaction, social computing, and information systems management, among others.

Shontz, Priscilla K. and Richard Murray, eds. A Day in the Life: Career Options in Library and Information Science. Libraries Unlimited, 2007.
Like having 90 LIS professionals sit down and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about what it’s like to do that kind of work. Includes profiles from those practicing in school, public, and academic libraries as well as numerous non-traditional roles. Multiple voices, multiple career paths – a terrific resource.


Career Strategies for Librarians (on hiatus until early 2012, but terrific archive of articles)
Topics include career exploration, education, job searching, experience, networking, mentoring, interpersonal skills, leadership, publishing and presentations, and work/life balance.

Hack Library School
For LIS students by LIS students; a terrific reality check on both the graduate programs and the professional employment situation they will be launching into.

Infonista: On Being an Information Entrepreneur
Addresses alternative LIS career paths, career strategies and tactics, profiles of alternative LIS professionals’ jobs and career paths, and cool career resources.

Librarian by Day. See especially: “So you want to be a librarian,” at

Librarian of Fortune
From well-known independent information professional Mary Ellen Bates, with a focus on succeeding in the business of being an independent plus resources, tools, and tactics for doing so.

Power Networking for Introverts
From LIS professional Marcy Phelps, “a blog by an introvert for introverts.”

See also the blogs of relevant professional association for up-to-date career information.

Online Resources

Explore a Career in Libraries
Check here for coverage of career paths, core competencies, library careers, and trends and statistics.

Finding a Job – Updates
Companion piece to “How to Become a Librarian.”

How to Become a Librarian – Updated
A great primer for those new to the profession, including prospective students considering whether or not this is the right career choice for them.

Info Career Trends Newsletter
Put on hiatus in June 2009, Info Career Trends was’s bi-monthly electronic newsletter devoted to professional development. A terrific resource for an archives cruise.

Library and Information Careers: Emerging Trends and Titles
An annual survey from San Jose State University’s SLIS program that identifies emerging employment trends and the titles associated with them.

LinkedIn: LIS Career Options [subgroup of ALA’s LinkedIn group]
1700 LIS students and professionals, nearly 200 discussion threads, and everything you ever wanted to know about building a career as an LIS professional. Join the ALA LinkedIn group (you don’t have to join the actual association), then click on the “More”tab, then “Subgroups,” and there we are!

LJ’s Placements & Salaries Survey
Annual survey and analysis of the LIS employment environment.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Librarians
Provides a solid overview of the various aspects of the profession, including the nature of the work, working conditions, employment statistics, education requirements, job outlook, and salary information.

Q&A With the Library Career People
Excellent career advice from Susanne Markgren, Digital Services Librarian at Purchase College, State University of New York, and Tiffany Allen, Personnel Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University Library. A great-read, for both those entering the profession and those mid-stream in their careers.

See also career information of relevant professional associations.

Key Associations

American Association of Law Librarians
Professional association for the nation’s law librarians.

Key organization for records and information management, including digital records.

American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
National association of school librarians/school media specialists.

American Library Association (ALA)
Best bet: connect with the divisions and special interest groups, check out the JobList, and if you’re new to the profession, consider joining the New Members Round Table (NMRT).

American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIST)
“The Information Society for the Information Age” – for those focusing on tech-based careers.

Medical Library Association
Professional association for more than 4,000 health sciences librarians; reflects the wide range of career paths opening up in this expanding industry.

Public Library Association (PLA)
National association for public librarians.

Society of American Archivists
Encompassing the broad range of roles that archivists are now stepping into.

Special Library Association (SLA)
Encompasses the broad spectrum of special and alternative LIS roles. Most effective when you join and become active in your local chapter.
These are the major national LIS professionals; for a complete list, see “Professional Associations in the Information Sciences.”

Note: many/most of these organizations offer student memberships at a steep discount.