Behind the Broadcasts
Just like the news gatherers they support, National Public Radio (NPR) librarians are ready to pivot on short notice. Hannah Sommers, an NPR program manager—a new role for librarians at the organization—uses her librarian skills in nontraditional ways to ensure the network has the behind-the-scenes tools it needs to thrive in a rapidly changing environment. “Hannah’s groundbreaking work sets the NPR Library apart in the media industry and in the library world,” says Laura Soto-Barra, NPR’s chief librarian. “Her team demonstrates what the future of our profession holds for those willing to embrace a fast pace of change.”
Sommers, who has been at the network since 2004, moved to her current position in March 2012 as director of the library product development team. Before her promotion she led initiatives to preserve NPR’s broadcast and music archives by expanding and upgrading databases and servers. She led a small team to develop internal products that didn’t exist just over a year ago. In November 2011, her team introduced new archival software to store broadcasts, dramatically reducing the cataloging backlog from weeks to days. “She can see the bigger picture but can also recall the more specific items we may need now or in the future,” says Constance Miller, senior project manager for NPR’s digital media department.
Sommers says that she looks for internal partners for projects, advocates for resources, communicates with stakeholders, and determines how to keep new initiatives moving forward. “Our industry, the media, is experiencing a lot of disruption. The business model is being remade right before our eyes,” Sommers says. She is on the front lines of those remaking it.