Melissa Fraser-Arnott

Melissa Fraser-Arnott

Why did you become a librarian/info pro?

I had two jobs in libraries early on (running summer reading club activities at Oakville Public Library and interning at the Canadian Police College Library through a youth employment program) and I loved the work. I knew that I wanted to complete a Master’s degree to improve my career prospects, and the MLIS seemed like the perfect fit not only because I enjoyed library work but because I knew that the skill sets involved would be transferable to a range of opportunities after graduation.

What is your current role?

I have been the librarian for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) since 2009. My title has changed during that time from “Librarian” to “Knowledge Management Librarian” to reflect additional management responsibilities in my role. The OPC is an ombuds-office responsible for overseeing compliance with Canada’s federal privacy laws: the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). In addition to responding to complaints from the public under these two laws, we report to Parliament and provide education and outreach on privacy related issues.

A significant portion of our collection includes legal materials, as our office engages in litigation in Canada’s federal courts. Our knowledge management functions include building special collections of internally and externally published materials to support our offices’ functions and assisting other branch teams in designing, building, and maintaining collaborative tools to support knowledge sharing.

What inspired you to become involved with LMD?

I have found leadership and management skills to be essential throughout my career in small, special library settings. Leadership and management skills are important  whether or not a librarian supervises staff. In order to be able to champion library services within an organization, we need to understand how to market, make business cases to senior management, and plan and show the alignment of library services with the organization’s strategic goals. Learning from other librarians in a variety of special library roles through LMD helped me to better run and promote libraries.

 Tell us about your history and current role with LMD

I responded to the call this year to serve as a Co-Chair of the LMD Marketing Section. This is the first time that I have stepped into a leadership position with LMD. I previously served as Secretary for the Canadian Associations of Special Libraries and Information Services (CASLIS) which was part of the former Canadian Libraries Association (CLA).

Are there any upcoming events or initiatives you’d like to tell us about?

My co-chair Karen Robinson and I have been meeting to discuss upcoming events and initiatives for the Marketing Section and recently put out  a survey to gather your feedback. We will be sharing our ideas and plans with you soon.

What do you think is a key challenge for our profession at present?

I think that the budget challenges that libraries are facing now in the United States and have faced over the past five years or so in Canada are symptoms of one of librarianship’s key challenges. Libraries offer immense value to our host organizations and to society at large, but that value is often underappreciated. There are still a lot of people out there who think of libraries as just the place that children go to borrow books. They don’t see the amazing array of services that libraries offer.

Special libraries in particular  offer a range of specialized, personalized, tailored services designed to help their host organizations achieve their strategic goals. When the people who control our budgets don’t understand the value of what we do, then we risk either losing funding or being shut down completely. We need to work hard to make sure that the value of our profession and our libraries is understood and appreciated. The skills and knowledge that we can develop together in groups like LMD can help us to achieve this goal.

How can LMD members get more involved with the division or with SLA?

Reach out with your ideas. If you want to know more about a particular topic, let us know. If you would like to present on a particular topic, let us know. We will work to make it happen. The more vocal you are about what you need from your Association, the better that Association can meet your needs.

And, finally, share a little-known fact about you

I had a baby girl last July, so the experience of reading lots of children’s stories has gotten me into children’s writing. I sold my first two stories this spring to Highlight’s Hello Magazine for babies and toddlers.