Early Career Conference Awards – Interview with Catherine Jenkins

Catherine Jenkins is sponsored by the Legal Division. Catherine is a Health Literacy Project Manager embedded in NHS library and knowledge services. She runs information drop-ins at public libraries and is passionate about access to research. She is currently studying part-time on the MSc Information Science course at City, University of London. Prior to joining the NHS she worked in open access publishing with a focus on Creative Commons licensing and compliance with funder policies in metadata and on the printed page. Her professional interests include the ethics of open access business models and the representation of minority languages in knowledge organisation systems.

2019 Legal Division ECCA winner, Catherine Jenkins
2019 Legal Division ECCA winner, Catherine Jenkins

Why did you pursue a LIS career?

I have always been interested in information (meaning, gut, everything really!), so working and researching within information services is an ideal combination for me. LIS as a discipline and industry fosters connections between academics and practitioners. As I would like to be both when I grow up – an information scientist and researcher embedded in the workplace, mobilised to put into action the insights from one sphere to inform my activities in the other – the LIS pathway seemed like a good one to embark on. I was also inspired by the fact that my mother undertook her own LIS degree before me, so I had a role model to follow!

Can you tell us about your career so far?

My background is in research publishing, specialising in open access books production. I joined a bilingual (Welsh and English) university press after graduation, then went on to work for an international science publisher in their open access department. Both roles involved liaising with librarians and learning from their expertise. I remain very passionate about open access (especially for book chapters!) and scholarly communications, and I’m delighted to have been able to explore these aspects, in tandem with outreach work, in my first LIS role at a mental health trust. I am also studying MSc Information Science part-time at City, University of London. Making the switch from publishing to project management in a library and knowledge services setting and a return to study has demonstrated that it really wasn’t so much of a ‘switch’: I have been able to route my love of metadata from the technical side of publishing to my current role in promoting health information literacy (by thinking about ways to improve the discoverability of patient information leaflets, beispielsweise), and I have enjoyed and been enriched by the ideas of fellow students on my course from a range of different walks of life.

Why did you decide to apply for an ECCA with the Legal Division?

The Legal Division’s aims resonated with my interest in open access and the Creative Commons movement. In my work I seek to connect members of the public with accessible, high-quality health information sources that are free at the point of use, so I am keen to keep myself up-to-date with the open access legislation landscape. The ECCA initiative also presented an opportunity for me to undertake the kind of learning, development and civic engagement that I was lucky enough to experience during my Fulbright summer in Pennsylvania prior to starting university. The objectives of Fulbright awards – to forge cultural understanding and scholarly links between the US and Europe – also seemed to me to speak directly to ECCA and its potential to achieve the same lifelong connections.

What are you most looking forward to about SLA 2019?

Having been a speaker at a regional LIS conference in Wales recently, I’m looking forward to being able to relax as a delegate without worrying about delivering a paper! But most of all, as a first-timer to a SLA conference, I am looking forward to meeting SLA members from all over the globe and to learning as much from them as from the sessions themselves. I feel so lucky to be beginning my SLA Europe journey by meeting the SLA’s wider membership. I am also very excited about exploring Cleveland and returning to the States again – I loved it so much when I carried out my Fulbright student project there (on minority language representation in American public libraries). I plan to visit the Cleveland Public Library to see their wonderful drive-up window (I’ve been visiting the libraries of the places I travel to since I was young and announced that I wanted to see the National Library of Wales; looking back, this was a sign of things to come!)

Which sessions/speakers on the programme are excited most about?

The Contributed Papers and posters sessions and the Legal Division sessions – especially ‘The Secret Sauce: Where You’re Probably NOT Looking to Find Your Client Intelligence’ and ‘Practical Applications of AI in Law Firms’ – are a few highlights in my schedule so far; the latter will be particularly useful for me, because I am researching the use of AI in generating abstracts and the ethics of making decisions based on those machine-written abstracts at the moment. I am eagerly anticipating The Information Professional of the Future discussion too, and to hearing the different perspectives presented there.

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