Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Flying solo: data librarians working outside of (traditional) libraries

Today’s ANDS webinar on ‘Flying solo: data librarians working outside of (traditional) libraries’ was rich with stories from three great presenters:
  • Siobhann McCafferty, Research Data Coordinator for the National Agricultural Nitrous Oxide Research Program
  •  Michelle Teis, Senior Consultant at Glentworth
  • Jane Frazier, Data Librarian with ANDS and formerly a data curator at Dryad data repository.
Each told their own unique story, however there were common elements to all. These included:
  • Being prepared to move jobs, even countries
  • Being in contract roles, not permanent positions
  • Having a real thirst to learn new skills and technologies
  • Drawing on basic library cataloguing skills and developing strong metadata skills (they were all queens of metadata!)
  • Being prepared to engage with content creators, being skilled at interviewing to get or manage content
  • Being flexible and adaptive
  • Being outspoken and proactive – about your skills, about what librarians can do

Data librarianship is a new and emerging profession which is ill-defined in terms of roles and responsibilities and is equally ill-defined in job titles. The speakers advised those wanting to move into the field to:
  • Look beyond job titles – jobs may not be called ‘Data Librarian’ but may actually be data librarian roles
  • Draw on traditional library cataloguing/metadata skills
  • Think big, talk up your skills and your keenness to learn to potential employers.


In response to a question about how those in traditional library jobs could move into non-traditional roles like data librarian, Siobhann made an interesting comment that employers are looking for something different because they don’t really know what librarians can do. She – and the other panellists – advised being proactive and vocal about what librarians (and libraries) can offer in the way of research data management.

The recording will be posted on the ANDS YouTube channel soon and appear under the 'Data Librarians' playlist.

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