This edition of Member Spotlight focuses on Janel Kinlaw, Data Analyst at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, 2nd Year Director for NC SLA and 2018 Conference Planner for LMD.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you first become involved in the information profession? I was an Information Systems undergrad and went into the benefits consulting world right out of college. I did some programming and systems analysis which helped grow my problem solving and listening skills and eventually moved up into a project manager role. I also learned a lot of healthcare rules and regulations and came to appreciate all the hard work that happens behind the scenes to support a benefits annual enrollment every year.
What prompted your choice of a career? I was wanting to go back to graduate school to become a teacher and instead I found the library science programs. When I think about my childhood, the library was the one place that I enjoyed going back to again and again. And it turned out that library science was a good fit for my interests and has allowed me to continue to learn every day
What kind of libraries have you worked in throughout your career? I've been in special libraries my whole career, but during graduate school I thought I would end up in an academic library.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out as information professional? Get involved in your local chapter and network with other librarians. If you are fortunate to attend a SLA conference
Why did you become involved with SLA? I joined SLA (and ALA) as a student, because I didn't know what kind of library I would end up in after graduate school. I moved to the DC area after getting my degree and was fortunate to volunteer with a very active and supportive SLA chapter. I joined the DC/SLA programming committee and helped to plan the chapter's monthly events. Being active at the local chapter level or at the national level helps you learn more about how SLA works and the challenges that other chapters or librarians are facing around the country.
What reasons would you give other professionals for joining SLA? For taking an active role in SLA at some level? Keep an eye out for a call for volunteers and say yes! Look for opportunities to expand your skills or gain new ones that you might not be able to get in your day job. A former colleague of mine became the chapter treasurer because she was looking for budgeting experience that she couldn't get in her day job.
What do you wish you had learned in graduate school? What is the most important thing you learned? Data visualizations is one skill that I wish I could have learned more about in graduate school. Being able to explain data sets in an easy way is becoming more and more important.
What will be the most important skills librarians will need as they move into the future? Be adaptable and willing to learn. Our profession is always evolving and changing which is a challenge for all of us to stay current and up-to-date. With all the change in technology, perceptions of libraries and services offered, it is important to remember that sharing our love of reading, technology or information needs is still the same no matter the format.
What do you like to do outside of the information professional world? With multiple small children, my hobbies are limited these days. Singing classical music, watching baseball and taking long walks have occupied me in the past.
Is there a cool project or particular part of your job that you really like and can share? I've been using my project management skills to help lead a cross-unit team to identify new software to manage our award process. We've been using the current software for 20+ years and it has been interesting to learn the day-to-day workflow of how we manage the process currently. It took us a few months to get a set of high-level requirements and capture the current workflow as well as find the "pain" points that we want the new software to address. For me this project has been like a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle and I've enjoyed putting all the pieces together.
What is the best book or article you’ve read recently that you would recommend to others? I'm a working mom and have found the only way to read books these days is to listen to them. As You Wish by Cary Elwes and Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner are two of my recommendations for audiobooks