Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rachel Singer Gordon, Librarian Turned Editor

Today I'm happy to introduce you to Rachel Singer Gordon, a technology-oriented librarian whose career has evolved into editing books for librarians. Rachel has for many years been the voice of the "new" library--one that uses information in all forms, not just books, to help its patrons.

Here's her story of how she got from the reference desk to the editor's seat:

Before my son was born in 2002, I was working as a computer services department head in a smaller public library. At the time, I'd begun both publishing in the library literature and presenting occasionally to library groups. I chose to scale back to part-time reference desk work in order to be home with my son, while continuing to pursue writing and other freelance work that could be done from home.

My freelance career began taking off, and in mid-2005 I found myself having to choose between scaling back on freelancing or quitting my part-time job. The freelance work easily won out; I enjoyed writing, enjoyed having the opportunity to meet and work with librarians from around the country, and was somewhat burnt out on reference work. Around the same time, my publisher, Information Today, Inc., wanted to expand its library publishing program. I began as a consulting editor with them that fall.

As a consulting acquisitions editor, I seek out authors for ITI's book publishing division, encourage and work with them on submitting proposals, serve as their liaison throughout the writing process, edit their final manuscripts, and serve as another pair of eyes on their galleys. I also attend two of ITI's major conferences each year (Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian), which gives me a chance to meet many of my authors in person for the first time and to find new ideas and inspiration from the conference sessions. As I've continued giving workshops and presentations on topics from library management to writing for publication, I get further opportunities to connect with colleagues around the country when I travel for conferences and other events.

I also continue to write for publication in the library field, and have several ongoing commitments. I coauthor a department in Computers in Libraries magazine, write monthly computer book review columns and a quarterly prepublication alert column for Library Journal magazine, and contribute a monthly column on writing for publication to Library Link, an online portal for librarians. Right now, I'm finishing up my ninth book (on alternative careers for librarians); my eighth, an edited collection on technology and the future of libraries, comes out next month.

My career portal for librarians,, remains the most highly trafficked library job site, and integrates with my writing and other activities. Much of my writing focuses on career development issues, and I continue this focus online with, its associated professional development newsletter, Info Career Trends, and with my two blogs, Beyond the Job and The Liminal Librarian. So, although I'm not currently working in a library, I still consider myself a librarian at heart--which I hear also from many of the people I've been talking to for the book on alternative careers. Librarianship provides a fantastic foundation, no matter where our careers take us.

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