Working History: Kit Frost
Employer: Library of Parliament (Parliament of Canada)
Job Title: Chief, Interpretive Planning
What are the regular tasks for your job?
My job is anything but regular. The Library of Parliament is responsible for developing and implementing public outreach and educational programs and initiatives on behalf of Parliament and parliamentarians. Within that, my role is leading the planning and development of content for new interpretive and outreach programs, products and resources; to coordinate the development of evaluation plans for public communication programs and products; to provide professional and managerial leadership for advising the Library in the subject matter of interpretation to the public and for conceptualizing, developing and implementing a far-sighted, comprehensive and integrated messaging framework and programming strategy for Public Outreach.
On any given day, I manage a number of types of initiatives and resources destined for the public. Whether it be developing interpretive plans, or exhibits to be installed in the Centre Block, or tour content, to designing interactive websites, designing interpretive panels or way finding signage, writing informational brochures/booklets, or delving into social media — my job is to connect Canadians to their Parliament.
What is the best part of your job?
Although there are many amazing things about my job, the most appealing part is having the privilege of working at Parliament. I am constantly reminded that the programs, products and resources that we develop have a broad reach — that Parliament is central to the lives of all Canadians. This is both humbling and extremely rewarding.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
There are a number of unique challenges in working for an institution like Parliament which is both a place of business and historical site, but I would say the main challenge is similar to my point above: reach. Parliament makes decisions that impact all Canadians. In a time of declining voter turnout and increasing youth apathy to traditional democratic institutions, the greatest challenge is reaching those people that have for one reason or another not engaged in democracy. As a result, we are currently looking at new ways to connect to people, to share and make parliamentary information available and accessible to them through non-traditional methods using Web 2.0 platforms and applications.
How did you get interested in history?
I would say that my interest in history is gleaned from my dad. Dad spent his early life on a farm in Manitoba — a child of two immigrant parents from Sweden and Norway he was fascinated with his family history and Canadian history in general. That interest led him to Ottawa where he worked at the National Archives for 40 years. When I was a child he used to bring me into the archives and tell me stories about the collections he was working on. I was hooked. History became my favorite subject at school and my major in university. We still have heated discussions about historical and political issues around the dinner table.
What advice would you give to students who are interested in a similar job?
My biggest piece of advice would be to take advantage of every opportunity you have to gain experience. While you are in school, approach people in the field, offer to volunteer or apply for summer internships at heritage sites, museums or government institutions, work as a researcher or in your university archives. Try to decipher what part of the field you are interested in. When in university working on my B.A and Masters, I worked in many different capacities in the historical sphere: museum interpretation, developing educational programs, supporting a municipal heritage committee, exhibit content development and heritage research. In essence, I got involved in the local historical community; got to know people and connect with them. To me, this was the most critical time in my career development because it gave me a solid foundation on which to build. Take each opportunity you are given, network and work hard. The experience you get at the beginning of your career will help establish your long term path.