As a child, Becca found a community at her public library. Today, she analyzes data that helps Chicagoans find their community at Chicago Public Library.
“Telling stories with data is something I really enjoy. When you look at numbers, especially if you think of it in terms of plotting or graphing, you can see what is effective and go from there,” Becca says. As the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Data Analytics Manager, she collects, analyzes, and manages donor information, trends, and insights that help inspire supporters into action and expand the Library Foundation community.
You have an anthropology degree. How has your degree and career journey led you to the Library Foundation?
I’ve had an interesting journey. In college, I tried on a lot of different majors and programs and ended up really enjoying anthropology. Once I graduated, I went straight into the nonprofit sector. I worked with the Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) and a private nonprofit called OneTable. I was drawn to the nonprofit sector, specifically my position at JASC, firstly by a desire to connect with my community and to contribute to its well-being. I loved the environment I was working in and the deep connection that I and my team had to the work. After that, I moved on to a job in the corporate sector, which was a lot different and it cemented the idea that I wanted to return to the nonprofit world and probably stay there.
Though I ended up with an anthropology degree, I have always wanted a master’s in information and library sciences, so when I saw this role, I thought this would be a great way to combine my love for libraries and my non-profit background.
Because you were an anthro major, are you a self-taught data analyst, then?
I am indeed self-taught! When it comes to math, I’ve always been inclined toward statistics and data analysis, taking several classes throughout my academic career. I’ve always loved computers (thanks, video games!) so it wasn’t terribly difficult to learn how to use them to organize and interpret data. I’ve worked with different databases and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms throughout my career, both in my nonprofit and corporate work and I was able to use that experience to secure my first role in tech. In that role, I dove in headfirst to learning Salesforce (a rather complicated CRM) and mastering Excel, which helped take me to where I am today!
What’s been your favorite thing about working at the Library Foundation?
My favorite thing about working here is the team and how passionate everyone is about the Library and the services it provides. I really feel like I am among kindred spirits because everyone shares that same drive in advancing the mission and cherishes everything the Library does for our communities and the city.
On that note, I have loved finding out just how much public libraries do for us. I feel like a lot of Library services fly under the radar, but it’s been great seeing everything it does for our community.
You’ve been here a little over 6 months. What are some lessons you’ve learned so far?
The biggest one is patience. As with any job, I faced some learning curves, but I’ve learned to be more patient with myself as I continue to grow and learn new things—which is kind of what the Library does for people, too.
Do you have a Library program that resonates the most with you? Why?
My passion has always been in youth services. I wanted to be a teen services librarian when I was younger—and that’s a career path I’d still like to explore. I think especially in Chicago it’s important to have spaces for teens and young adults who are going through very confusing and challenging times in their life. It’s important to have outreach and programming dedicated to teens—they are the future of this city, of our world and they need support and resources to develop life skills and help them grow into leaders.
What’s your Library story?
I’ve been reading since I was very little—I taught myself how to read when I was 2 or 3, which is common with neurodivergent kids. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends or a community I felt welcomed in. To my parents, our Library (the Tinley Park Public Library), seemed a natural place to take me to find a community and indulge in my love for reading. I was introduced to many Library programs like the theatre program that helped me make friends, have fun, and be included in a way I wasn’t elsewhere.
I also served on the youth advisory council at my local library. I did their theatre program and hosted some programs of my own. I was very involved!
What’s your favorite book?
The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
What’s your favorite genre?
When I was little, high fantasy. I went through a bit of burnout with reading during and after college, so I stopped reading for a bit. I recently got back into it, and I discovered I love mysteries, thrillers, and crime books.
Team audiobook, e-book, or hardcover?
I am a bit torn. I was a hardcover traditionalist for a long time, but with a concern for how the printing of books impacts the environment, I am also team e-book.
Any hobbies aside from reading?
I am involved in a couple of alternative fashion communities and everything that comes with that—things like crafting. I can’t sew, but I’ve tried to crochet. I’m a musician, primarily a vocalist. I have three cats that I’m obsessed with. I learned how to draw during the pandemic, too.
If you weren’t working here, what would your career be?
My dream career would be a teen services librarian!
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