Wanyu Zhang/NPR
Laura Soto Barra 2017
Wanyu Zhang/NPR

Laura Soto-Barra

RAD Chief, Research, Archives & Data Strategy

Laura Soto-Barra leads a team of innovative information professionals in her role as NPR's Chief of Research, Archives & Data Strategy (RAD). Soto-Barra has designed and led the transformation of the NPR libraries into the RAD group, advocating an embedded approach to creating and delivering research services, data analysis and digital tools to NPR.

As RAD Chief, Soto-Barra has transformed the RAD team to meet NPR's need for digital information and innovation. She is responsible for the continuous evolution of the systems that steward data about all the stories NPR has ever told – and much of the music used in NPR's editorial work. She has led the development of archival products and services for revenues, and as product owner, she has overseen the development of business plans to help maximize the value of NPR data.

Over the past decade Soto-Barra and her team, co-managed by RAD Deputy Mary Glendinning, originated and built a robust internal database called Artemis, which has been recognized nationally. Recently, they guided the recoding, restructuring, and integration of Artemis into NPR's core digital workflow systems. Soto-Barra oversaw the creation of the NPR Historical Archive and directs NPR's audio digitization and reformatting project to protect, preserve, and provide online accessibility to more than 100,000 hours of NPR's audio legacy, formerly stored in obsolete physical formats. Soto-Barra's efforts to digitize content and develop strategic plans for protecting and sustaining data has enabled the RAD group to build a world-class, digitally enabled and nimble archive that supports and mirrors NPR's growth as a highly respected media institution. Currently, her team is pioneering efforts in voice-enabled search for NPR.

Soto-Barra joined NPR in 2005 as Senior Librarian and became Chief Librarian in 2012. In 2014 she was promoted to RAD Chief, the first to hold that role at NPR. During her tenure, the RAD team has been recognized with numerous major industry awards including the ALA's Library of the Future Award, Dow Jones' Leadership Award, SLA's Rising Stars, and Library Journal's Movers & Shakers.

Throughout her career, Soto-Barra's strategic projects have been significant and enduring. Originally from Chile, she began her career as a chemical and mining engineering librarian at the Universidad de Chile. She and her family later moved to Canada where she earned degrees from the University of Toronto. In 1997 she came to the United States to work for The Florida Times-Union/Morris Newspapers, which led to an association with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and later joined The Post-Standard/Advance Newspapers.

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