A warm welcome to 2018’s President, Katharine Schopflin. Here we sat down with Katharine for a mini interview to find out a little about her new role as president, SLA and the LIS profession in general.
I really wanted to work at the BBC, so I joined their records management team as a Senior Document Assistant in 1996. You didn’t need a qualification or experience then. I accidentally discovered that I was born to be a librarian. Since then I’ve done everything from news information research to film cataloguing to knowledge management.
Your current role is with a local authority. Tell us more about what you do?
I look after the team which manages Freedom of Information and Data Protection – not just allocating, processing and sending responses but advising as well. It’s been a steep learning curve for me: although I had basic knowledge, my immediate previous jobs were in copyright and licensing. I have a great team, it’s a really good place to work and it’s challenging: a huge enquiry load, need for service improvement and a little thing called General Data Protection Regulation.
Can you give us one key lesson that you have learned from your career so far?
Always be ready for change. Everyone says it, but it’s true. No matter how needed and appreciated you are, your current job could disappear and will certainly change. Work on your soft skills, stay aware and keep learning.
Oh, and everything you do, job applications, web content, even (yn enwedig) negeseuon e-bost, write it for the person reading it, rather than for what you have to say.
How did you first get involved in SLA and why?
I used to attend the Soirée and the old Online Conference breakfast as a non-member. As I had to cover all my own subs, I felt I couldn’t run to SLA as well as the others. It also felt very ‘corporate’ when I worked in a sector where most people wore jeans. Ond … I was drawn in by the value of events and of the network. One year at the Breakfast a sponsor offered a bottle of fizz to the first person who signed up that day and that was that.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I’d like to build on the excellent work done by my predecessors. We need a mixture of high-quality events of all kinds: virtual ones, large-scale ones and smaller, more intimate ones, and reflecting the learning needs of all members. We need to demonstrate the value of our network, to show that being part of SLA is a very strong thing. We want to find a way of offering value to student members and new professionals. And we want to be part of industry events from established conferences like Internet Librarian to grass roots initiatives like the LISDIS conference.
Otherwise it’s going to be a busy time at work for lots of reasons (not just the implementation of GDPR). I am also working on a book for Facet publishing. My collaborator Matt Walsh and I should submit ‘Practical Knowledge and Information Management’ ready for publication early next year. So that’s pretty much every minute of each day accounted for.