Institution: U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA)
Master of Arts, Information Resources & Library Science, University of Arizona
Master of Music, Flute Performance, University of Arizona
Favorite LIS Website or Blog: The Signal: Digital Preservation
Editor: Wanda, you have an interesting and unique background as a professional flutist. What was your path to librarianship?
I think the most meaningful thing for me was learning about the issue of inaccessible field recordings captured by Ethnomusicologists because of obsolete audio formats. I was also drawn to the challenge of becoming a gatekeeper for cultural information. The complexity of digital collections and cultural competence is what brought me to this wonderful career.
Editor: What type of work did you expect to pursue when you first started graduate school?
It seems like graduate school was eons ago, and ‘several-versions-of-Wanda-ago.’ When I started my second program at the University of Arizona’s School for Information Resources and Library Science, I envisioned my dream job in an archive or special collections working with Latin American music and Ethnomusicology collections.
Editor: How does this compare with your current position at FDA?
At FDA I have been working on a project to build a digital repository using the open source software DSpace. I wear many hats, the most recent one project manager, but some of my main responsibilities are content management and metadata.
Even though I do not work in a traditional archive the basic goal is the same: preserve and ensure access to materials for current and future research. It is that flexibility that I love so much about librarianship. In fact, it is so flexible that these days I am not sure what to call myself!
Editor: Your work at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) sounds very interesting. Is there a particular impact or outcome of yours on this current project that you are most proud of?
I have to say that having the opportunity to present in front of fellow librarians at the National Institutes of Health, Library of Congress and other opportunities, stands out. I am used to taking the stage with flute in hand, a thing I have done since I was 11 years old, but I had never presented to a group of my colleagues at this level.
Another accomplishment I am particularly proud of is creating metadata schemas based on the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) for two digital repositories.
Editor: You have a unique perspective as a LIS professional working in a non-traditional information setting. In your view, what opportunities exist for librarians and archivists in these types of environments?
I would say look at opportunities that utilize information in one way or another. Non-traditional information settings do not usually have a roadmap like traditional information settings have. To get there, it is best to look at the job description and requirements, rather than just the title.
Editor: In reviewing your resume, I notice that you have a strong diversity background. You are trilingual, have had several study abroad experiences, and are also a Knowledge River Program alumna. How do you incorporate this expertise into your work or outside professional activities?
My current position has a different focus and so I have found other channels for pursuing these interests. One of the wonderful opportunities that have come my way is to help establish HOLA FDA, a Latino/Hispanic Employee Resource Group at my agency.
Editor: Finally, where do you go from here in terms of your professional development? Are there any issues or challenges you are eager to take on?
I still have so much I want to take on. One that might not sound exciting to many is to improve my project management skills. Working at the FDA has taught me the value of excellent project management and ways to move big projects forward.
I love working with digital collections and all the complications they present. I believe this is the next frontier in librarianship, but at the same time, I do miss walking into a room full of old books. I hope that someday I will be able to marry these two passions. I would love to work in an environment that holds both digital and physical cultural records.