Data, Science, & Librarians, Oh My!

My thoughts as I navigate the world of data librarianship.

code4Lib 2015!

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Hi everyone, this is Vicky reporting from Portland, Oregon! I am here on the west coast for the first time attending code4Lib 2015, and since today is the last day of the conference, I thought I’d give everyone a bit of a report about what went on here.

First, I want to talk about the format of presentations at code4Lib. It’s absolutely unlike any other conference I’ve ever been too. There are no multiple sessions going at once. Everything is streamlined into one room. Yes--we sat in a room from 9-5pm watching 20 minute presentations, with an hour for lunch and two to three half hour breaks. This sounds really daunting but I have to tell you--it was so refreshing! I’ll talk a little bit more about the actual presentations later on.


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Library Advocacy

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Everyone reading my posts must be saying, “Damn, this girl is obsessed with proving the value of the library! We get it already!” Blame Jim Matarazzo, my corporate libraries professor back at Simmons. He really drilled it into my head that if a library can’t prove that it’s worth having, it will be the first thing cut from a budget. And it scared me into constantly thinking about it. Thanks, Jim!

In my last NDSR-NY post, I described how the needs assessment survey can be utilized to show value on an institutional level, in the setting of meetings with business operatives and institutional leaders. In my blog post for the SIGNAL, I wrote about how programs like NDSR can prove their value on an interdisciplinary level as well as to the LIS field.


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Party on, AMNH!

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Hello everyone! Vicky here to bring you some holiday cheer. I thought, since this is our last post before Hanukkah, Yule, Life Day, Festivus, Kwanzaa , Pancha Ganapati, Soyal, the Dongzhi Festival, Christmas, Newtonmas, Boxing Day, Omisoka, and New Years, I could wind down a busy few months by talking about the American Museum of Natural History party season!

Just about every day of the week, starting from the 10th of December to the 19th, there is a party at the AMNH. Each department has their own parties, some are small and attended mostly by people within the department; others are all staff events with food, drinks, and music.

The Library kicked off the party season this year, with probably 50+ people eating and drinking in the reading room (it’s only one night of the year, librarian friends who are cringing!) as the night went on.  This was a great opportunity for me to better get to know many of the scientists that I've interviewed for my NDSR project in a more informal environment.


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Prove Yourself: Needs Assessment Edition

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What I’ve come to love about the library science field (which after years of waiting tables you’d think I’d hate) is the service aspect to everything we do. Librarians are intensely user-focused in all of our work: through the use of needs assessment surveys, we mold our libraries to what users want, expect, and need. We use the results to design programs, buy technology, even create positions within a library (YA librarian is a thing because of that!). Some common ways to implement a library assessment include  focus groups, interviews, scorecards, comment cards, usage statistics from circulation and reference, and surveys sent to users via email or on paper.

This past week, I attended a workshop with the fabulous Julia Kim at METRO that focused on the implementation and design aspects of surveying, called "Assessment in Focus: Designing and Implementing an Effective User Feedback Survey." The presenter, Nisa Bakkalbasi, the assessment coordinator at Columbia University Libraries/Information Services, was a former statistician and presented on the many ways one could glean statistically valuable quantitative data from simple survey questions.


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Science: The Final Frontier

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Science: the final frontier. These are the voyages of Vicky Steeves. Her nine-month mission: to explore how scientific data can be preserved more efficiently at the American Museum of Natural History, to boldly interview every member of science staff involved in data creation and management, to go into the depths of the Museum where none have gone before.

Hi there. Digital preservation of scientific data is criminally under-addressed nationwide. Scientific research is increasingly digital and data intensive, with repositories and aggregators built everyday to house this data. Some popular aggregators in natural history include the NIH-funded GenBank for DNA sequence data and the NSF funded MorphBank for image data of specimens. These aggregators are places where scientists submit their data for dissemination and act as phenomenal tools for data sharing, however they cannot be relied upon for preservation.


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