Melissa Fraser-Arnott just completed her first year in the San José Gateway PhD program and is busy preparing to present an extensive literature review for her proposed research. She plans to examine the professional identities of library and information science (LIS) professionals who work in non-traditional settings or in non-traditional roles.
Fraser-Arnott became interested in the topic because of her own non-traditional experiences as an information specialist. Most of her career has incorporated non-traditional roles, including her work in alert services, information resource building, and technology training, as well as her work in an electronic library built on partnerships with non-governmental organizations.
Over the next several years, Fraser-Arnott will collect qualitative data through semi-structured interviews with LIS professionals who work in non-traditional roles. “There is a rich body of research literature that describes identity in many professions, including sociology, education, psychology, and nursing,” said Fraser-Arnott. “This body of research on professional identities shows that the identity issues we discuss in our profession are not unique to our discipline.”
Fraser-Arnott currently lives in Ottawa, Canada, and works as a librarian for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with Canada’s privacy legislation. “We investigate and respond to complaints if someone feels that their privacy has been violated by the government or a company,” she explained. “A lot of the complaints are technology related.” She is one of two librarians who are embedded in the information management team. Her job responsibilities include collection management, records management, and SharePoint training.
Fraser-Arnott chose the San José Gateway PhD program because of the program’s part-time option and the ability to complete the program through distance learning. “Since I earned my Master of Library and Information Science at the University of Western Ontario, I’ve wanted to pursue a PhD, but I needed to work,” she said. “And once you’re working, it’s hard to think about taking time off to go back to school.” she said.
“I always wanted to conduct research, but I never had the chance. Working in a non-academic library, you’re not encouraged to publish or do research, and it’s harder to get research subjects,” Fraser-Arnott said. “I knew that if I wanted to do research, I’d have to do it in a formal context.”
With guidance from her San José Gateway PhD program faculty advisor Dr. Bill Fisher, Fraser-Arnott hopes to complete her research in four to five years.
“I’ve been to the Canadian Library Association every year for the past six years and have always enjoyed it. The main benefit is meeting new people and reconnecting with friends. You can get so wrapped up in your own work in your own library, and everyday issues can seem overwhelming. But at conferences, you meet others who have interesting solutions or who are going through the same thing.”