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I Am MLA: Shenita Peterson

Submitted by Shenita Peterson; edited by JJ Pionke

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Institution: Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Title: Public Health Informationist

Brief description of responsibilities

My primary responsibility is to serve students, staff, and faculty in the School of Public Health. In the past couple of years, that assistance has centered around creation, retrieval, management, and analysis of data. I also lead our Systematic Review Service and serve as a member of our Communication and Outreach Team.

Why is MLA important to you?

As a lifelong learner, I view MLA as my perpetual “university.” I came into the profession with a background in public health. As a result of my MLA membership, I have learned a great deal about librarianship and how to be a steward of the truth. MLA is also important to me because it gives me a safe and supportive space to come into my own as a leader, with skills that have impacted both my professional and personal life.

What is your advice to someone taking on a new role in leadership in MLA or in some other capacity?

Reach out to someone you trust and have a conversation about everything that worries you about the role. Get it all out. Talk through worst-case scenarios. After working through those negative thoughts, you can focus on the opportunities for change and growth.

What has been the most interesting project you have worked on?

The first evidence synthesis project I worked on was an update to the American Cancer Society’s guideline on colorectal cancer screening, which had an immediate clinical and public health impact upon publication. It was a massive project, and I had the pleasure to be guided by my associate director, who taught me so much about the systematic review process.

What do you consider to be the most pressing issues or trends in librarianship?

I believe critical librarianship is one of the most important trends in the profession. What we do as human beings always has an impact that includes our work within librarianship. Being thoughtful and introspective about the choices and decisions we make can only have a positive outcome.

Bucket list

One of my favorite movies of all time is the romance, City of Angels (1998). Lake Tahoe, NV, features heavily in the third act. I fell in love with the beauty of the area. I vowed that one day I would go to Lake Tahoe, rent a cabin, and sit on the lake with a lovely cup of tea and just take it all in.

What is the best thing you’ve read/watched/listened to recently?

The Great British Bake Off is such a delight to watch. The contestants have this magic mix of earnestness and talent. It is also a great way to learn about culture, chemistry, and cookies (biscuits).

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