Reliable Sources: Interview with Allison Milne and Katie Skidmore

Interviewer: Mélanie Brunet

In early February 2017, I interviewed Allison Milne and Katie Skidmore, two Ottawa-area information professionals working in content management at Export Development Canada (EDC), a Crown corporation.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Allison: I’ve been at EDC off-and-on for about eight years, and I’ve been in my current role as an advisor in the Content Management group for nearly two years. I worked in both the corporate library and the records management team until they merged into Content Management. I’m from Ottawa and did my undergraduate studies at the University of Ottawa and then studied library science at Western in London.

Katie: I’ve been at EDC for about two years as well where I’m also part of the Content Management team as a Senior Associate. My role comprises of working both on the Library and Recorded Information Management (RIM) team. I’m from Ottawa as well, but went to Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) for my undergrad, where I completed a 6 month exchange in Sweden. I returned to Ottawa to get my Master in Information Studies in 2011.

What was your first library or information-related job?

Allison: I had a student job in the records office at EDC during the summer of my third year as an undergrad. It involved filing, paperwork, boxing files for offsite storage, which was quite boring. But after I graduated, EDC hired me for a two-year contract to do an offsite storage audit of their holdings. I got to learn about how they did their offsite storage processes, solve discrepancies between systems, do research, and I was exposed to their reclassification structure. I saw that managing information was more than just filing. It was three years later that I seriously considered a career in this field.

Katie: I worked at the WLU Library in my last year as an undergrad. I worked the graveyard shift – and loved it! My primary responsibilities were assisting with circulation as well as retrieving books to fulfil loans requests from the University of Waterloo and the University of Guelph (which share a tri-university catalogue). It was very much the traditional librarianship that most people associate with the field.

How did the MLIS program at Western and the MIS program at uOttawa prepare you for this work?

Allison: Because I initially worked on the records management side at EDC, the MLIS program did not prepare me much in terms of what to expect. But in general, it helped me develop my critical thinking, apply myself in group settings (there were lots of group projects!), how to approach tasks that are not well-defined and figure things out. Community development was an interesting course but I did not get to explore that further in my work. It was an 18-month program, including a coop placement.

Katie: I completed a bilingual program since I was planning on living and working in Ottawa. The MIS courses dealt largely with pure librarianship – think cataloguing. There were few courses dealing with information management and technology. I completed an eight-month coop placement at the uOttawa Management Library which allowed me to get practical on-the-job training, practice my French, network and become exposed to day-to-day challenges in the field.

What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your Master’s degree?

Allison: I hoped to remain employed at EDC, but I was not able to go further without a master’s, so I took a leave to get an MLIS. I returned to EDC as a coop student and was hired on contract for eight months after I graduated. Then I worked in the federal government and later as a consultant in the private sector, which is how I met Katie; we worked at the same firm. Being a consultant taught me a different reality and skills I never knew I needed, such as going to a new site, picking up from nothing and hitting the ground running. These skills have helped me in every position I’ve had since. My goal was to stay employed, but I got more out of it than that. I was able to make connections with people in other industries.

Katie: At first, I was focused on getting a job in traditional librarianship, not knowing there were other options. I was just ready to start my professional career, whatever that looked like. I started in the consulting field knowing nothing about it. An employer took a chance on me and that was the greatest opportunity I’ve had because it launched my career.

How have your previous jobs prepared you for this one?

Allison: Being a consultant taught me confidence – it can be really scary to be sent to a new site and figuring things out – all aspects of management, how to handle a room, how to represent your company, keep up with best practices in the industry and trends in the field you’ve just joined. And to identify the gaps that everyone is trying to address. I gives you an idea of what you might be facing in a new job.

Katie: Ditto. Consulting prepared me to be ready for anything, whether that be leading or supporting a project – large or small. It helped me develop my soft skills and often took me way outside my comfort zone. In most organizations there is the mindset of “see one, do one, teach one”. As a Consultant, you are not always afforded that opportunity and may jump right into “do one” or “teach one”.  

What kinds of tasks do you do on a daily and weekly basis?

Allison: I manage database and journal subscriptions, including costs and terms of use to ensure access. I also work at the reference desk, and help with SharePoint (content management system), advising on what to store and where, metadata structure, governance of the system in an organization that’s a bit decentralized. The idea is to make sure SharePoint is well managed, keeping in mind the balance between helping each client and providing them what they need to do their job, and delivering the system.

Katie: As I mentioned previously, I have a dual role operating in both the Library and on the RIM team. Within the Library, I renew subscriptions and provide reference and research support; but my primary focus is on information and records management. Often, I am providing advice on guidance on a wide variety of topics, but my passion is deploying SharePoint sites and delivering training across the organization.

What most surprises you about your job?

Allison: The speed at which things change. EDC is transforming in the way it delivers services, and it drastically impacts how we work, the type of information we provide, the projects we have on the go, how SharePoint sites are delivered. Cross team collaboration is important because when a request comes out of the blue, we have to make sure that it’s in line with what IT and ATIP is doing. It’s hard to keep all employees in the loop when things changes quickly.

Katie: The importance of partnering with teams within the organization. In many cases, I will be on a project that will require expertise from different fields. That’s why cross team collaboration is so important. I am in constant communication with my IT and ATIP department, but I can say that I have leveraged almost all support teams at EDC to assist in responding to client requests.

What’s your favourite part of your role?

Allison: Definitely the client interaction and customer service. Every day, I help two to ten people, give them what they need while meeting corporate standards. I do problem solving within specific parameters, and I build relationships when I work with clients.

Katie: Watching clients’ eyes light up when you provide them with a simple tip or trick on how to better manage their information – usually via SharePoint. It might be simple but it can really improve process efficiency within a team.

Do you have any advice for students interested in getting into the information field?

Allison: Participate in a coop placement if you have the opportunity. It’s an invaluable experience, from the interview process to learning on the job. Also, be outgoing and confident. Don’t wonder “should I apply for this job?” Just go for it. It was scary at the time to work for a private company, but it was the best decision.

Katie: Become a consultant at some point in your career. It’s the greatest decision I ever made. I was exposed to a wide variety of departments within the federal government, including different types of team structures, leadership, and bureaucracy. You can’t get that experience within the four walls of one organization.

What’s next for you, career-wise?

Allison: On an operational basis, I’d like to rise a bit above where I am now and keep advising on strategic enterprise-wide decisions. But above all, I want to be happy and work for someone who believes in me, and continue in the information field where there’s a place to grow.

Katie: I want to continue challenging myself and working where professional and personal development are encouraged.



As of March, Allison accepted an internal position at EDC with the Operational Excellence team. She spends her time coaching EDC leaders and employees in the field of Lean management and in problem-solving methodologies and capacity saving techniques.

As of April, Katie accepted a position at the Bank of Canada leading a Shared Drive Migration project. Her priority is to reduce the amount of content being stored on the Bank’s Shared Drives and reinforce the usage of SharePoint.


LANCR Annual General Meeting / Assemblée générale de l’ABRCN

Want to know what LANCR has been doing this year? Join us for our Annual General Meeting to find out! Catch up with colleagues, have a bite to eat and partake in some games.
This year’s AGM will focus not only on the last year’s activities but also the future of LANCR.  It will be the launch of our membership survey to decide what direction LANCR should take.


  • Location: Morisset Library, University of Ottawa, Room 153, 65 University Private
  • Time/Date: Wednesday, May 31st at 5:30 PM.
  • Cost: None


Please RSVP by May 28th:

Vous voulez savoir ce que l’ABRCN a fait tout au long de l’année? Venez à l’assemblée générale annuelle pour en savoir plus ! Renouer des liens avec vos collègues autour de grignotines et de jeux.

L’assemblée générale de cette année est non seulement un retour sur les activités de l’année dernière, mais aussi une occasion de discuter de l’avenir de l’ABRCN. Cet évènement marquera le lancement de notre enquête auprès des membres de l’association afin de déterminer l’avenir de l’ABRCN.


  • Lieu: Bibliothèque Morisset, Université d’Ottawa, salle 153, 65 Université.
  • Date / Heure: Mercredi 31 mai à 17 h 30.
  • Coût: Gratuit

S’il vous plaît, confirmer votre présence d’ici le 28 mai

*CANCELLED / ANNULÉ* Panel: Behind the interview desk / Discussion: L’envers de la médaille

Update: April 24 – Please note that this event has been cancelled due to low registration. Thanks for your understanding. 

Mise à jour: 24 avril – Veuillez noter que cet événement a été annulé en raison d’un nombre limité d’inscriptions. Nous vous remercions de votre compréhension.

behind the interview desk (EN)

The Library Association of the National Capital Region (LANCR) presents Behind the Interview Desk: Perspectives on Hiring.

Join us for a discussion on the hiring process from the other side of the interview desk. Our panel is comprised of a public librarian, academic librarian and a librarian working in an alternative setting. The panelists will discuss their experiences and expectations while interviewing potential candidates.

The panelists are available for your burning questions. If you want the inside scoop, this is your chance!

  • When: Wednesday April 26th 2017 at 6:00 pm
  • Cost: $5.00 for members, $10.00 for non-members
  • Where: Room B125 (in the basement), Main Library of the Ottawa Public Library, corner of Laurier and Metcalfe
  • RSVP to reserve a spot at 

Our panelists:

Lee-Anne Ufholz joined Wolters Kluwer in June 2014 as a Regional Sales Manager. She previously worked in academic libraries, special libraries and archives. Lee-Anne is a Past President of CHLA/ABSC. She holds a BSc and an MLIS from Western University.

Alex Yarrow is the manager of Alternative Services at the Ottawa Public Library, a department that includes Homebound, Bookmobile & Kiosk, and Accessibility Services.

Alexandra has worked in OPL and Montreal-area public libraries, as well as in university and school libraries. She has been involved in professional library associations at the local, provincial and federal level, and is also the founder and president of the non-profit Twice Upon a Time.

Liz Hayden is the Assessment Librarian at the University of Ottawa Library. Throughout her 25 year career she has honed her expertise in the areas of project management, change management, assessment and planning.

She began her career at the University of Western Ontario and moved to the University of Ottawa in 1999, where she was the Director of Information Management Services. In 2009 Liz graduated from Syracuse University’s iSchool, and joined the University of Ottawa Library team.

Liz returned to her Assessment Librarian position in 2015 following a 2 year secondment as the Chief Librarian at Saint-Paul University, where she was responsible for ensuring that the fundamental transformation needed to bring the library into conformance with current academic library standards and practices was accomplished.

She is the founder of the Canadian Library Assessment Workshop. A bi-annual meeting of assessment practitioners which provides hands-on discovery and development opportunities.

behind the interview desk (francais)

L’Association des bibliothèques de la région de la capitale nationale (ABRCN) présente L’envers de la médaille: le recrutement et l’embauche du point de vue de l’employeur.

Joignez-vous à nous pour une discussion portant sur le processus de recrutement et d’embauche du point de vue de l’employeur. Les membres du panel, des bibliothécaires des milieux public, universitaire et non traditionnel, feront part de leurs expériences ainsi que de leurs attentes en entrevue.

Les panélistes seront disponibles pour répondre à vos questions. Ne manquez pas cette chance de savoir ce qui se passe l’autre côté de la table durant une entrevue !

  • Quand: mercredi le 26 avril 2017 à 18h00
  • Coût: 5$ pour les membres, 10$ pour les non-membres
  • Où: Pièce B125 (au sous-sol), Succursale Centrale de la Bibliothèque publique d’Ottawa, au coin de Laurier et Metcalfe
  • RSVP à

Lee-Anne Ufholz s’est jointe à Wolters Kluwer en juin 2014 en tant que directrice régionale des ventes. Elle a aussi travaillé dans le domaine des bibliothèques universitaires et spéciales et des archives. Lee-Anne est une ancienne présidente de la CHLA/ABSC. Elle détient un baccalauréat en science et une maîtrise en bibliothéconomie et science de l’information de Western University.

Alex Yarrow est la directrice des services parallèles à la Bibliothèque publique d’Ottawa, un département qui comprend les services à domicile, le bibliobus, les kiosques et les services d’accessibilité.

Alexandra a travaillé à la BPO et d’autres bibliothèques publiques dans le région de Montréal ainsi que dans des bibliothèques universitaires et scolaires. Elle s’est impliquée dans les associations professionnelles de bibliothécaires aux niveaux local, provincial et fédéral. Elle est aussi la fondatrice et ;la présidente de l’organisme à but non lucratif Twice Upon a Time.

Liz Hayden est la bibliothécaire responsable de l’évaluation à la Bibliothèque de l’Université d’Ottawa. Au cours de ses 25 ans de carrière, elle a perfectionné ses compétences en gestion de projets, en gestion du changement, en évaluation et en planification.

Elle a commencé sa carrière à Western University pour ensuite se joindre à l’Université d’Ottawa en 1999 comme directrice des services de gestion de l’information. En 2009, Liz a obtenu son diplôme de la Syracuse University iSchool et s’est jointe à l’équipe de la Bibliothèque de l’Université d’Ottawa.

Liz est retournée à son poste de bibliothécaire responsable de l’évaluation en 2015 après un détachement de deux ans comme bibliothécaire en chef à l’Université Saint-Paul où est était responsable d’assurer une transformation en profondeur de la bibliothèque afin qu’elle se conforme aux standards et pratiques courantes des bibliothèques universitaires.

Elle est la fondatrice de l’Atelier des bibliothèques canadiennes sur l’évaluation, une réunion biennale de spécialistes de l’évaluation qui procure des occasions pratiques de découverte et de développement.