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.

After an amazing closing keynote by Lawrence Lessig, Saturday presented freedom from the convention center! Lots of goodbyes. Switching up the hotel room. And then adventures with my HLS/LITA buddy and new roommate, Michael. Portland Saturday Market, picking up some Adrienne Rich at Powells, a liquor-injected doughnut, sleep, fetching our rental car downtown. I vividly remember driving through the mountains to the coast and feeling the weather slip from sunny to gray to every shade in between, this cute zippy little red rental car with our bags trundled in the backseat, the sole crackling radio station that seemed to play Stevie Nicks every other song. Then moody Cannon Beach, poetically named Cape Disappointment, Astoria (where we discovered a secret trove of outlandish seals underneath a dock!), and finally the Sou’wester, this historic lodge turned vintage trailer extravaganza. Plus sauna. Plus rusty old bikes to be borrowed for beach cruising. Just lovely.

In summer 2011, I turned 21 and had about three weeks of partying it up before heading to grad school, where I turned my focus to building my experiences. I took it seriously and worked a lot and as I have said oh so many times before, did not have much of a life. I always knew I wanted to fast track the education side of things so I could live. Now I feel like I’ve picked up where I’ve left off in terms of prioritizing experiences and moving beyond my carefully cultivated comfort zone. It’s a relief and a joy to have professional and personal fulfillment finally, finally starting to happen in tandem.

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  1. The happiness and strength in this post is contagious! So glad you’re “going forth” in so many ways :)

    1. Aww, thank you for the comment Ari. Thanks also for attending the LIS ed symposium this past weekend :) Needless to say, Francine and I miss you lots!

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