Introduction and Background
As part of my internship with UT Libraries Associate Dean Holly Mercer, I conducted an interview of twelve subject librarians within Hodges, Pendergrass, and Preston Medical Libraries to learn what they knew about data management, if they have had any interactions with faculty about data management, and how interested they are in being involved with data curation activities within the Libraries. The results of the interviews showed that very few of the librarians had heard from their faculty about data management. We also found that many of them had no knowledge of this area. Encouragingly, all had some level of interest in learning more and being involved when the Libraries’ services are formulated. As a result of the interviews, Holly and I decided to offer a workshop to give the librarians some basic knowledge of the context, the importance, and the specific tasks involved with data management.
What Went Well?
I was very pleased with the turnout at the workshop. There were 18 people in the room, plus 5 joining us in Blackboard Collaborate. The group seemed very interested in the topic and wanted to learn more about it. There were 5 exercises that broke up the session and let the participants get their hands into research data management. People spoke up and interacted with each other and me, which helped the time pass.
What Would I do Differently Next Time?
If I were to do it again, I would trim down the presentation to a shorter length. It ran about 1 hour and 40 minutes, which was pretty long. I could tell people were starting to get tired. Certain information can be eliminated to shorten the length.
I would also practice more. I ran through the presentation several times, but I still felt the need to cling to my notes. I don’t like that feeling. There is always more preparation that can be done. This will allow me to be more nimble on my feet and elaborate on certain aspects of the program without feeling like I’m off course.
What Did I Learn in Preparing for and Presenting This Workshop?
Preparation: This was quite an undertaking for me. It was the longest presentation I have ever given. At one hour and 40 minutes, I had to cover a lot of material. Through the course of preparing for this presentation, I learned more about data management that I didn’t know. This will help me in interviews and in my future career since I will advocate for data management services within my library and outside of it. Preparing for this presentation helped me solidify in my mind how to articulate these issues to others.
Presenting: I learned that the librarians at Hodges are very interested in research data management and eager to help whoever the new Data Curation Librarian is (hopefully me!). This is encouraging, because there really is too much for one person to do. The new person will have to leverage existing relationships between the librarians the faculty researchers if he or she is going to be successful.
How Will I Apply These Lessons to my Future Career?
One thing I’ve learned is that real change only happens when it is a grass-roots effort, not a top-down mandate. Mandates may sometimes get the job done, but at what cost to employee morale? The discussions we had today of obstacles to RDM with researchers and incentives to help them understand its value were valuable in formulating what I will need to say and do with researchers at my institution in the future.