ACRL 2015


I loved ACRL 2013 in Indianapolis and it seems a little crazy that ACRL 2015 in Portland, Oregon, has already come and gone! Let me ramble through my conference experience, per usual.

On Wednesday I attended the data management preconference offered by several data management librarians I’ve enjoyed interacting with on Twitter for a while now. Check out #acrldatasvcs for tweets.


Despite my above tweet, the preconference was great! Lots of food for thought, captured adequately in an email I shared with Research Data Services that I’ll share with you as well.


I just returned from ACRL, where I had a great time attending a preconference on data management. You can check out the crowdsourced notes here (admittedly not too in depth) but there are also a few quick takeaways that I wanted to share.

We are not alone. Yes, this is obvious I guess but doesn’t it feel like we’re an island some days? This was a good reminder of how many groups there are out there. Naturally the groups/efforts I was exposed to at the preconference were library led but still… we have a community to learn from and even collaborate with if we so choose. That said…

Not everyone has a community like we do. RDS has a long and varied history, which in my experience can be problematic because it feels as though pockets of UW think we don’t exist any longer. Continuity and sustainability over so many years is tough. However, the fact that we have each other to learn from and make things happen alongside is rare. Next up: continuing to grow the RDS team and our relationships with important campus entities.

Nobody knows what they’re doing. There are standout institutions who seem to have it all together from the outside looking in… but as it turns out there’s a lot of confusion about many of the things that we talk about all the time:

  • How do data management support groups define success?
  • How do we set a scope for our services?
  • How do we keep up with the deluge of federal funding mandates when they provide only the vaguest of descriptions and no infrastructure?
  • How to prioritize educational efforts – one shots vs embedded?
  • How to prioritize audience – internal to library, research labs, departments, etc?

The preconference was refreshing for me because I don’t know how you all feel, but this whole realm can be bewildering in terms of figuring out how to add value. I came away very excited for the work we have been doing to build relationships and create things (website! toolkit! digest!) here at UW. Sooo many good things.

Also it’s worth mentioning I got compliments on our blog content apropros of nothing. People are noticing us. Keep up the awesomeness! Let me know if you want to chat more in depth about ACRL, RDS, anything.


Community is just everything. You probably don’t care about that rambly email but it’s the real deal about how I feel. I’ve struggled mightily with how to help ease RDS along and one of the main strategies I employ is just to share the love and positivity and hope as we work toward cohesive, campuswide strategy and vision for our work. Sometimes that’s all you can do, ya know?

On Thursday I presented a poster, Visualizing Library Data Using Tableau, alongside my colleague Bronwen. Katie Fox, a SLIS student, participated in our project but wasn’t able to make it to the conference. In order not to overwhelm this post, I’ll talk more about the content of our poster in a later post.


I probably got the most out of the meetups this year. Wednesday was scholcomm/data/altmetrics, Thursday was digital humanities interest group, Friday was Hack Library School and the all-conference reception. I met so many wonderful people I can hardly keep them straight. I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to know enough people that these conferences are like joyful reunions. It starts to feel like we’re friends, too, in addition to being colleagues. It almost makes it feel criminal to enjoy my work so much! One buddy even shared the yik yak buzz about the librarians who stormed Portland, leading to nonstop giggles on the MAX.

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recent presentations

I am zooming headlong into the fog of library conference season. I’m doubtful that I’ll be anything but on autopilot for the next month and a half, starting this month for ACRL and ending with the LYRASIS eGathering in May. With this in mind I thought I’d share some of the recent talks I’ve given before heading into the next round!

Wayyy back in December I gave a talk at the UW Digital Humanities Research Network, one of the more inspiring groups I’ve found myself involved with on campus.  I never get bored of talking about data management 101. It’s one of those topics that I think gets breezed over because people assume it’s too basic or already known but no – it’s the bread and butter. I’m convinced that everyone, myself included, needs a reminder about these concepts every six months! I was also excited because this was the very first slide deck where I included an image of a scrapbook layout (my data).

Last month my student assistant Elliott and I gave a talk in SLIS about data curation stuff. You know, this talk made me a little sad. We marketed specifically and heavily toward SLIS students and had two show up (plus a librarian and a professor). I mean, SLIS promoted it, Dorothea and Bronwen promoted to their classes; what else can be done? I feel bad griping because we had two students show up and I’m not trying to undervalue their presence. I was just underwhelmed. And can I be real and say I was a little annoyed? I came in with a thousand and one ideas about how I could work with current students, open doors for them the way doors were opened for me… and I’ve found that excitement quashed repeatedly.

Most recently, I presented as part of the RDS Holz brown bag series. This series was dormant for a while but we brought it back this spring. Attendance to these talks, too, has been dire. In particular, I thought that this talk, which brought together an associate university librarian plus two established librarians – would draw a broader audience. Sigh. The slides I link to below are just my portion of the talk on open data; you can find the complete slides in MINDS@UW.

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project life CT: february

If there was any doubt that I am a cat lady, the layouts that I submitted for February’s Project Life creative team roundup should clear it up. I opted to create two of my layouts featuring Francine and Magnus, though my trip to Washington DC for OpenCon was ultimately featured by Becky.

I will admit that my PL process changed drastically right around the time that I became a member of this year’s creative team. I fell out of my PL groove a little bit. Sometime this next month I’ll share a little bit more about the whys and hows but for now I’m just happy to say that I love it again. I am taking so many pictures of this spring’s adventures and I can’t wait to share them!

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my job hunt: cover letter & resume / CV [pt. 3]

This is the third post of a multi-part series where I talk about my job hunt. Read part one (prepping through library school jobs and classes) or part two (library school extras).

Giving advice about application materials like cover letters and resumes is tricky business because there’s such a wide variety of valid opinions out there, and of course it’s a topic that has been covered (ha) at length all over the place. I’ve chosen to focus on cover letters specifically because they’re so weird and mysterious and horrible to write, though I also share a bit about my resume/CV.

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my job hunt: library school “extras” [pt. 2]

This is part two in a multi-part series about my job hunt. Read part one here.

I almost didn’t write this post – and in fact had other posts queued up and ready to go – but something was bothering me. I wrote about my library school jobs and classes, yes, but that tells such an incomplete story of the things that I did in library school that affected my job hunt. Here are a few of the things that I so often hear referred to as extras – but I don’t think they’re extras at all. Lemme bring back a throwback phrase from my younger days: “Let’s be real – extras are everything.” (And when you get to your job hunt, they pay dividends.)

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my job hunt: library school prep [pt. 1]

January 2015 marked one year since I interviewed for my  job at UW. I realize now that I really haven’t ever talked about my job hunt experience beyond what I wrote on Hack Library School (general overview about process + phone interview tips).

When I was a library student I read a post by Robin Camille about her job hunt. I still remember how amazingly helpful I found that post! Pretty sure I just pored over it. She talked about the things I eagerly asked my job hunting friends about, hungry for the tiniest of details. This week I thought I’d take inspiration from the type of details she chose to share.

Clearly, the information I share is not meant to be indicative of how anyone else’s job hunt should or will go – my hope is simply that it will provide a point of reference for your own adventures in job hunting. And because I have so much to say, I thought I’d make it into a series. Today I’ll cover my preparations as a library school student, both with classes and jobs; soon you can expect posts covering a detailed timeline of my job hunt, my application materials, interview experience, and final takeaways.

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spring 2015 presentations

This spring will be absolutely bananas – and one major contributor to that is my presentation schedule. I’m actually relieved because this is the environment in which I thrive. Give me everything to do and I’ll make it work; anything less and I just get ancy.

The next few months will bring a fun mix of conferences and local talks – plus my very first (paid!) invited talk at the LYRASIS eGathering. Can’t tell you how exciting/nervewracking/glee-inducing this is! Pinch me.

february & march

Data Curation for Future Librarians.” UW-Madison School of Library & Information Science. Madison, WI.

Open Access and Open Data Updates from OpenCon 2014.” UW Research Data Services Holz Brown Bag series. Madison, WI.

Visualizing Library Data with Tableau.” With Bronwen Masemann and Katie Fox. Association of College & Research Libraries Conference. Portland, OR.

april & may

You’re in Good Company: Unifying Campus Research Data Services​.” With Cynthia Hudson-Vitale and Amy Nurnberger. Research Data Access and Preservation (RDAP) Summit. Minneapolis, MN.

Telling Your Data Story with Tableau.” With Bronwen Masemann and Katie Fox. Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians (WAAL) conference. Manitowoc, WI.

Archiving Your Life’s Work.” With Paul Hedges. Invited talk, UW-Madison Retirement Association. Madison, WI.

DH Data Curation.” Mini-lecture, Digital Humanities Project Toolbox class (LIS640). Madison, WI.

Practical Tips for Online Engagement.” LYRASIS eGathering. Virtual.

What does this spring have in store for you? Any upcoming presentations?

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project life CT: january

I didn’t officially announce it yet, but I was selected as a member of the 2015 Project Life Creative Team! It’s definitely an honor. I love this system. I love printing my photos. I love the simplicity. I was happy to be able to share a few bits and pieces about my process in my team profile and I plan to expand on that here very soon.

This year’s creative team is filled with just about the coolest women. Not only are they talented and inspiring, they’re also incredibly nice! We have a Facebook group and everything. A lot of them have written about scrapbooking, shared layouts, and been savvy Instagram users for a long time. I’m just trying to keep up! I encourage you to check them all out. Wowza.

Being a member of the creative team entails sharing monthly layouts with the PL team; they then pick one to highlight. Delightfully, my retro pics from Science Hall were shared in this month’s creative team roundup.

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Are you a scrapbooker? If not… why not?

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i feel better when i’m recording

Documenting my life has always been important to me. This blog is a part of that but I have been less than active over the years. At certain junctures I’ve thought, “Oh let me capitalize on the energy of [finishing an important application] [graduating] [starting my new job] [feeling settled into my new job] [insert other life event here] to finally post more.” But it doesn’t happen, not really. It’s nice to have a space for occasional musings and that’s worked so far. But lately I’ve done some soul searching cheesy as it sounds and I KNOW I AM HAPPIER WHEN I WRITE. About my job, in particular, and this crazy (awesome) profession. Writing is just hard. I would come home from work and think, “Maybe I should write something,” but of course I’m sapped of the ability to create anything useful by that point.

In the past I’ve felt like a real weirdo whenever I’ve posted. Just vulnerable I guess, odd for sharing any thoughts. But then I read this. Plus recently I went back through my archives and caught this fascinating glimpse of what I was working on and thinking about at different points. It was so interesting to me and I wished I could read more to get a more expansive glimpse at my old self. I mean, sometimes I hardly even remember grad school anymore. I had this moment of realization that this part of my life is fleeting enough too – and wouldn’t I want more of a record?

So I came up with a new methodology for myself. I frontloaded a month’s worth of content; it’s all scheduled and ready to go. It feels good and also insanely obvious in retrospect is that all I need is a list, prep time, organization. This is how I’ve always worked, so why would this space be any different? It’s kind of like making social plans after work – doesn’t come easily to me (introvert alert) but I always feel better afterward. Ditto running. And I’m feeling more positive than ever that this blog falls into the same category.

As of right now, posts will go live on Tuesdays and Thursdays; both library and Project Life stuff. Hooray!

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summer in wisconsin

Oh golly. I just logged in to my blog and realized that I had this draft post waiting for a loooong time. Too long.

I haven’t been myself these past six months, if we’re being truthful. There have been a series of hard transitions that have made me feel like the bottom has dropped out of my life. Like I am rudderless. They’ve mainly been changes in my personal life, not professional, though of course there are aftereffects. I didn’t anticipate it being this tough. I have been hiding. I have not been thriving. And honestly I don’t know how to get back to a place where I feel okay.

I think 2015 is the year to rediscover my path. To pay off my student loans and figure out how I really want to spend my time. To dig deeper into my job and find new hobbies and opportunities. To recognize that my past does not need to be so entwined with my future.

For now, here is a glut of photos from my summer in Madison, meant to be shared months ago. I hope they’ll give you a happy little glimpse into this amazing place.

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