I had a baby this year! It was a big thing in my world, bringing lots of new physical realities and choices. I am choosing to be candid about my experience in this reflection, not only for my own sake but also to encourage others to share the messiness – even knowing that writing about my breasts is maybe not what some would deem “professional.” Frankly a good part of me would rather just block out my distressing postpartum period rather than relive it in words for anyone to judge; however, the flip side is that I’ve learned so much from what one might call mommy bloggers whose reflections were one of the only ways I had even a smidgen of a sense of what was coming for me, so this is my contribution as a way of paying it forward. If it’s helpful to even one person I will gladly submit to the awkwardness a thousand times over. Thank you for reading!
I almost didn’t publish this post. I let it sit in my drafts and lurk guiltily in my conscience. With every passing day it seemed way too late to post it. Ultimately, my interest in continuing a tradition from 2015 and 2016 won out, so here are a few rambling thoughts about 2017.
January is the month of knowing. I am keeping the secret that I’m probably leaving Wisconsin and it boils away inside of me. I told my family at Christmas so my next step is to tell my AUL. We do a careful dance as I seek a counteroffer. Is there anything my current employer could offer that would make me stay? Ragip and I have already had this conversation. Maybe a comparable title, a promise of staff. We weigh the possibilities with his job, the closeness of family members. We make a pros/cons list for the new job. Pros: more money, amazing career leap, managerial experience, the knowledge that to grow my career I need to move around so I might as well get on with it. Cons: traffic, higher cost of living, far away from family. All the unknown unknowns, both a pro and a con. Ultimately, I receive a reasonable counteroffer, which is a nice gesture but not enough, and I accept my job offer with elation. I negotiate with my new boss at UCR with a raging cold and the next day we make the nine-hour drive to Pittsburgh for my aunt’s 50th birthday party.
February is the month of planning and logistics. At work, we roll out new marketing materials and I draw up a strategic plan for RDS to try to use any last sway I may have to cement something in place. I’ve always realized the precariousness of everything I’ve worked on here but it takes the knowledge that I am leaving to really highlight it. We fold in time to go apartment hunting in California, touring twenty apartments in two days and signing a lease for the very last place we see. For the first time, we float the idea of trying to go on honeymoon to Turkey early, between leaving UW and starting at UCR. We had originally planned to go in October but decide this is much better.
March is the month of goodbyes and lasts. I send so many last emails! Join in on my last Mirch Masala lunch buffet, shivering down State Street with colleagues. I bring together the librarian meetup I’ve organized off and on for a year, some grad students, some colleagues, some local librarians. There’s a relief that accompanies closing out so many commitments but there’s also a sad twinge hinting at what could have been. All the collaborations I’d envisioned that hadn’t yet been well-timed – just like that, they’re suddenly gone. I push away the melancholy side and reflect instead on how happy I am that I came to UW and had so many opportunities to try things and respond to new challenges. I know I’ve grown by leaps and bounds since taking this job, and I’m grateful for it.
In 2015 I wrote about my year. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue that practice for 2016 too.
January lives up to its reputation: cold and dark. R and I start the year newly engaged in Nashville. Later I’ll learn that people think I’m knocked up, at least until a suitable enough amount of time passes and they realize that’s just not the case. I keep twisting the ring around on my finger. It was all so sudden but so strangely right that six months ago we were saying hello to now, this, today, and jewelry to top it all off.
Back at work, I give a webinar presentation for the Digital Curation Interest Group (DCIG) Midwinter meeting, one of my favorite talks on creative ways to revitalize research data services. Next up is UW’s first Data Carpentry workshop, a natural extension of the Software Carpentry trainings led by the Advanced Computing Initiative (ACI) for the past two years. ACI has been one of my most intriguing partnerships; trying to understand how Research Data Services (RDS) can best work with them has been on my mind for some time. Co-sponsoring Data Carpentry seems like a good start.
Call for Chapter Proposals: The Complete Guide to Personal Digital Archiving for Librarians, Archivists, and Information Professionals
Edited by Brianna Marshall | Published by ALA Press
Proposal Submission Deadline: July 15, 2016
Objective of the Book
This book will act as a primer for information professionals seeking an introduction to the possibilities for libraries and archives to support personal digital archiving (PDA). In an increasingly digital world, the burden of managing and preserving digital items is falling to individuals, not just libraries, archives, and cultural heritage institutions. However, these institutions are poised to be able to share a wealth of information back with the communities who need assistance wrangling their archives, which could include digitizing, organizing, storing, and creating new outputs from their personal digital collections. Despite libraries’ position to provide assistance, many libraries and archives are still unsure what exactly PDA refers to and what resources and approaches are needed to effectively support their communities. This book will serve as a much-needed guide to aid in exploring PDA best practices, tools, and institutional and organizational case studies. Anyone who has been tasked with building a personal digital archiving setup or community programming – including archivists and public, academic, and special librarians – will glean practical strategies from this book.
Interested individuals are invited to submit a one page chapter proposal on or before July 15, 2016. The proposal should summarize the proposed contents of the chapter and provide a draft outline of major points to be included. Please indicate which, if any, of the topical areas listed below you believe your chapter would best fit into – though note that depending on variety of incoming submissions, these areas may change by final publication.
Part I: What is Personal Digital Archiving? Connections with Libraries and Archives
Part II: Tools and Approaches to Personal Digital Archiving
Part III: Case Studies for Public Libraries
Part IV: Case Studies for Academic Libraries
If you have questions or ideas about a chapter that you’d like to discuss before submitting a full proposal, please feel free to email me. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by August 1, 2016 about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines. Full chapters are expected to be submitted by November 1, 2016. I may also request that contributors serve as reviewers for this project.
- July 15, 2016: Contributor proposals due
- August 1, 2016: Notification of acceptance
- November 1, 2016: Full chapter submission due to editor
- January 1, 2017: Editorial review results sent to contributor
- February 1, 2017: Final deadline to editor
Please send inquiries and submissions to Brianna Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is excerpted from an invited talk I gave at the Oklahoma State University Library in early April. I’ve embedded the slides below but you can also scroll through for my notes – not the most thorough writeup I’ve ever written but enough to give you a glimpse at my discussion points!
I’d love to hear whether these ideas fit with your experiences with library digital scholarship services, either here in the comments or on Twitter.
I gave a webinar for ACRL’s Digital Curation Interest Group (DCIG) earlier this month! As hard as it always is to give recordings a fresh listen and hear all the times I say umm and so!, what can you do? I had fun and I’m so glad I could share some of my ideas on shaping RDM and digital scholarship services. You can either watch the full recording here or skim my slides below.
As I mentioned in my recent DCIG webinar, I’ve decided to pick a word to guide my year. It’s something that a lot of the crafty lifestyle bloggers I follow do, and while part of me feels a little silly, I learned last year the power of focusing in on a concept (visibility as applied to Research Data Services). Having a word creates focus, an overarching purpose, and helps me know that if the things I am up to feed that objective I’m doing just fine.
So this year my word is moxie.
: the ability to be active
: courage or determination
I thought about calmer words but I think I need a bit of forcefulness behind my word. Mostly I just love moxie because it has that gritty yet playful spark I need. I want to thrive in the messiness of it all as I work my way toward orderliness. I want to be an analytical powerhouse without losing my creativity. Also it feels super retro, bonus!
When I think about what I want this next year in all parts of my life I think about the things holding me back. Here are a few of the psychological barriers I’d like to power through.
Keep doing things that are uncomfortable and new and scary. You get into a job and sometimes it’s all too easy to become complacent, so I do my best to continue to push myself. Now more than I ever I know I need to keep my hunger, keep myself out on the edge. That where the useful stuff is, more often than not. The serendipitous stuff.
Iterate quickly and stay on the move. The driving force behind my ability to work well is momentum. I am more productive when I feel like I’m building toward something. The slumps I fell into last year often coincided with projects I just could not get answers on or push forward. This is why I now recognize the value in having simultaneous projects with different levels of complexity, scope, risk, and potential payoff.
Prioritize the essentials. Last year I read the book Essentialism and it had a profound affect on me. Why focus on a ton of little things that we end up not doing well and don’t satisfy us when we could focus on the heavy hitters? This means sticking with my gut and picking a direction and going with it until it no longer feels right. Saying no. Frequent gut checks about the path I’m on.
Set my own deadlines. This is a subset of my focus on rapid iteration. I need deadlines otherwise things don’t get done! A lot of my work is self-directed or comes with a fairly flexible timeline. I don’t usually have tasks with hard deadlines, so I’ve been creating a habit of setting these myself. They’re often arbitrary but that doesn’t matter; all that matters is that they exist. Otherwise the time gets eaten away by other tasks and I end up doing things just before they need to get done. I feel like a productive person, don’t get me wrong – but I could be better. When I imagine what I could do if I just locked myself in the office overnight and set to getting things done…
Allow myself to be bad at things. I saved the NUMBER ONE thing I want to prioritize for last. This is my PRIMARY struggle. On a small scale, it means I turn away from things I don’t like, that are for whatever reason unpleasant or not to my taste – and then they fester away until eventually I deal with them. Because of course they don’t just disappear! An email that requires a complex answer, a multi-step task that’s inconvenient. It all gets dealt with, so that’s not really the issue – the issue is how heavily things weigh on you in this scenario. Avoidance breeds power that it shouldn’t have and I find that it has a profound effect on my energy toward totally unrelated tasks. I recently discovered that psychologists refer to this as “attentional residue.” How’s that for a visual? Really though, I think it does a good job conveying the lingering weight that procrastination creates.
When you’re a kid you don’t worry about judging yourself against others, appearing this way or that way. You lose yourself wholly to your passions. There’s a period of time where you are pretty bad at something, and not always in a comfortable, enjoyable way. I’d love to move back to that place. Interestingly enough, I think I’m actually better at being “bad” at things in my work life than my personal life. When it comes to my creative endeavors I don’t feel as free as I want to feel. I feel sort of panicky and unable to begin because my mind fixates at how unready I am, that it’s not the right time, that I’ll feel more ready and therefore have a better end result at some unspecified later date… and of course that’s all utter BS because the best time to start something is right now. We all get that intellectually but our brains trick us – and I’m quite susceptible.
So those are a few things that have been on my mind lately. To me they also provoke some interesting experiments in productivity and service building, too – what’s the tension between iterating quickly and doing uncomfortable new things, for instance? How do you keep static priorities while embracing those new tendrils of possibility that introduce themselves unannounced and can be the most worthy to pursue?
2015 was markedly different (and remarkably better) than 2014.
I’m not particularly good at appreciating the recent past or savoring things just as they are. I’m often eyeing up the next step, scheming about how to get there. So today I thought I’d reflect on this wild and wonderful year that was filled with personal and professional shifts, mostly as an exercise for myself. This certainly isn’t everything but it’s what came to mind when I thought chronologically through my year. It feels like ages since I wrote. I’ll admit that I miss it.
One of my new endeavors in 2015 was the UW Open Meetup, the brainchild of myself and colleagues Carrie Nelson and Jim Jonas. With half a year under our belt, I thought I’d provide a quick update on how things are going.
The story of our origin is that we’re a bit of a rogue group. We just made a meeting about open access, data, and education a thing. We found each other, cooked it up, and threw ourselves into it. We notified the people that needed to be notified but this was another one of those things that was all us. We’re all librarians, though at the time we started meeting we were all in different libraries with no real overlap – no shared committees or projects. We started talking about our passion for openness and the myriad issues it intersects with and we had this moment where we wondered aloud where everyone else was. Surely others cared too. Then we realized that maybe our first step should be to make a place to breed those connections and collaborations and insight and new directions. We got to work.
Note: This text is cross-posted from the Winnower in response to the ARCS/Winnower essay contest. You can also view the original version. I am grateful to Stacy Konkiel for bringing the contest to my attention and encouraging me to share my story.
For a long time I let the things I am not – namely, a researcher and an expert – stop me from having an impact. I wasn’t quite sure that my words carried any weight, especially as I struggled with how to classify myself as I transitioned from graduate school. Though I work for a library, I am not a librarian (by training, sure, though not by job title). I am not even a data specialist (not by training, though maybe through experience). I don’t consider myself to have any specific expertise, not really, but I am conversant and curious. All of this led to real uncertainty over how to direct my work and the uncomfortable feeling that I didn’t fit anywhere.
I got a lucky break, though. Open Con 2014 introduced a world teeming with ideas and energy. It didn’t matter that I was a twentysomething with pink hair and a brand new job I didn’t know what to do with. For the first time, openness felt inevitable and powerful, not just one of my weird tangentially relevant side interests. I recognized that there were passionate people from very different disciplines and corners of the world who were ready to work together. Critically, I heard directly from researchers who had embraced openness, including Erin McKiernan, Jon Tennant, and Ross Mounce.
Open Con forced me to break down artificial boundaries I’d internalized: the idea of librarians as “other”, separate from researchers, seen as helpful but somehow lesser. It wasn’t that I felt disrespected in my library role; it was just that I found myself waiting for cues that weren’t likely to come. It seems silly to say but before Open Con, my understanding of the inner workings of academic research was rudimentary at best. It felt like there were more doors closed than open when it came to interacting with researchers and really understanding their environment. I recognized that I wouldn’t get an invitation to engage, not from my library or from researchers themselves. I would just have to make openness my business and bring my library along for the ride.