Member Spotlight: Janel Kinlaw

By Stacey Nordlund

For this issue's Member Spotlight, I interviewed Janel Kinlaw, Broadcast Librarian at National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington, D. C. Janel received her MLS from Drexel University in December 2005. She has been appointed to a number of leadership positions and committees in both ALA and SLA, and previously served as President of NMRT.

Tell us about your current position and what you do on a typical day - or is there such a thing as a typical day?

There is no typical day here at NPR. Some days I am cataloging NPR's programming - Morning Edition or All Things Considered. Some days I am answering reference questions - such as contact information for a person, national statistics on commuting, experts on sports and culture, or how many stories have we done on ghosts in the past five years. Some days I am working on project teams to innovate on NPR's archival systems or other digital workflows. Some days a big news event happens and it's all hands on deck to help support the NPR staff reporting and producing the story.

What is your favorite aspect of working as a librarian?

My favorite aspect of working as a librarian is helping people find information. I also like that in my current job the environment is always changing, and you need to adapt to the flow of each day.

How did you decide on the information profession for your career? Was it meticulously planned or a happy accident?

Out of college, I worked in the human resource consulting world and was looking for a different career path. I searched around a bit and found library science. It turns out that library science was a good fit for me, and my software development and systems analysis background has helped me find a niche within the library science world.

When/how did you first get involved with NMRT? What impact has your service to NMRT had on your involvement with ALA?

My first involvement with NMRT was volunteering to help input committee and board reports into the NMRT Archives database. A few months later, I volunteered to co-chair the NMRT Archives committee. I was appointed to the Shirley Olofson, Web Committee and President's Program Committee in the following years, while still helping out with the NMRT Archives. Eventually, I was approached to run for a NMRT Board position and was voted in as Secretary in 2010 and then Vice President/President-Elect in 2011. NMRT has allowed me to get experience in different areas that my current job may not allow. It has given me the opportunity to develop a professional network and friendships within ALA.

What do you do for fun when you're not librarianing?

I'm a big reader and have sung in choral groups in the past. These days though, I'm learning how to be a mom to twin girls. Reading has turned into children's books and singing has turned into nursery rhymes =)

Do you have any advice for NMRT members who are current students or recent graduates?

Don't be afraid to make connections and volunteer some time to NMRT or even ALA in general. NMRT and other groups within ALA offer virtual participation on committees. Share resources that you find on job hunting, resumes, building skills, or whatever on the NMRT listserv. Take risks and ask for help, but most importantly have fun!

What's your secret passion?

Not really secret - but I'm passionate for baseball, cooking and reality TV.