SLA Publishes Book on Competitive Intelligence

Practicing CI professionals discuss the challenges they face

McLean, Virginia, 4 November 2022—The Special Libraries Association has published a book that aims to serve as a “realistic” counterweight to what its authors call “textbook scenarios and clean-cut models” about competitive intelligence and “ideas that work only on a white board, not in the real world.”

The book, A Practical Guide to Competitive Intelligence, brings together more than a dozen CI professionals from diverse backgrounds to address topics such as career pathing in competitive intelligence, translating a librarian’s education into CI work, determining whether a CI platform is needed, CI ethics, and reporting CI findings for maximum impact.

“This book is the realistic guide to competitive or market intelligence,” states the foreword by Zena Applebaum, Phil Britton, and Alysse Nockels, the book’s primary authors and editors. “It’s written in plain language and reflects the fact that you’re probably in an ambiguous space. You are most likely defined by what you are not. You aren’t a salesperson, you aren’t a lawyer, you aren’t a scholar, and you sure as hell aren’t in the C-suite.”

Although the competitive intelligence field is by no means limited to librarians, many of its roles, such as conducting research, synthesizing information, and “connecting dots” (to borrow a term used by Zena Applebaum), are fundamental to library and information management. SLA has a thriving competitive intelligence community, and several of the authors of A Practical Guide are members of the community and/or participate in its programs.

“While working on this chapter, I found a great PDF of an old article from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook from Winter 2000,” writes Lynn Strand, a librarian and longtime SLA member, in her chapter about translating a librarian’s education to CI work. “The opening lines reads as follows: ‘… She searches for competitive intelligence every day. She scans databases and online journals for news affecting the firm where she works. Fresh information in hand, she organizes what she’s found and gives it to employees.’ Even the government recognized 21 years ago that librarians were performing CI work!”

A Practice Guide to Competitive Intelligence is available in both soft cover and electronic formats and can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About SLA
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit international organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves information professionals in more than 60 countries and in a range of working environments, including business, academia and government agencies. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy and networking initiatives. For more information, visit

Stuart Hales

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