Monday, November 30, 2015

A Day of Library Conversation on Open Public Data

[Note: this article appears concurrently in the ACRL-WA/OR newsletter for Fall 2015, n76]

On October 13, Seattle Public Library hosted a day of library conversation on open public data. Attendees came from around the Puget Sound area and included libraries such as Seattle Public Library, Pierce County Libraries, King County Libraries, Sno-Isle Libraries, the University of Washington and the UW Libraries, the City of Seattle, and OCLC. Representatives from Socrata, a company that provides solutions for governments to put their data online, were also in attendance. The idea behind the workshop was to facilitate a discussion regarding the role of the library in open and government data initiatives. The hope was to brainstorm ways in which public libraries can partner with local data initiatives, how to provide library staff with the skills and resources they need to participate in local data, and how to support the library's community of users.

The session included folks from Socrata presenting examples of some of the government data they provide solutions for, as well as a brainstorming session on what a library's potential role is regarding open data. In the Puget Sound there is already a bounty of online government data available (for example,,,,, and many, many more), and libary user communities are accessing that data from library computers. The question is: could or should libraries be doing more to support what users are doing?

Though no magic-bullet solutions were found, everyone involved agreed it was a good initial conversation -- it was the first time all of us had collected together to learn about how we are or would like to be supporting open data, what our staff needs to be able to continue or begin supporting open data initiatives, and what the future might look like as far as library support for these endeavors goes.

I'm sure this was the first of many meetings on the topic, and everyone looked forward to potential collaboration on future projects, and/or to more discussion on particular concepts.

Some additional open data-related resources that were highlighted at the event included OpenSeattle (a civic technology group, including weekly civic hacking nights), Municipal Research Services Center (has a data request service for municipalities), Puget Sound Regional Council (also has a data request service), NextDoor (private social networks connecting neighborhoods).

Following the afternoon workshop, an evening event at SPL was held. Titled "From Data to Action: Open Data and You," the event included a panel presentation and audience discussion. Panelists were:
  • Ryan Biava, ‎Senior Policy Advisor, Mayor's Office of Policy & Innovation
  • Abe Diaz, Mobile Program Manager at NBC-Universal, Inc. and Independent Developer
  • Amy Laurent, Assessment, Policy Development and Evaluation Unit, Public Health, Seattle & King County
  • Domonique Meeks, Masters of Science Information Management graduate student at the University of Washington and the co-organizer of Hack The CD
  • Jenny Muilenburg, Data Curriculum and Communications Librarian, University of Washington Libraries Research Commons
Facilitated by Jim Loter, Director of Information Technology at SPL, discussion topics included resources for open data (with a focus on, best ways to learn about data if you're starting out on a project, where to acquire data-related skills, and examples of the creative ways people have used open data. The best part of the night was the Q&A, with questions ranging from Seattle policy decisions, skill training, ideas for how to use open data, and more.

The presentation was recorded, and will be available online via SPL soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November 18 = UW GIS Day

Campus GIS Users:

Wednesday, November 18th is GIS Day and the University of Washington will highlight and celebrate the transformational role of Geographic Information Science (GIS) by hosting a day-long event in the UW Libraries' Research Commons.

UW GIS Day Agenda:

10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.Welcome & Light Refreshments (coffee and doughnuts)
10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.Lightning Talks 1: Non-Students - Submit a Proposal!
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.Speaker Session #1: Mapping for Social Good
·         Marty Schnure,
·         Andrew Powers & Christy Heaton, MaptimeSEA
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.: Lunch
1:15 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.: Lightning Talks 2: Students - Submit a Proposal!
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.: Speaker Session #2: The State of GIS Education Today
·         Nick Chrisman, RMIT University
·         Michael Goodchild, UC Santa Barbara/UW

Interested in presenting at GIS Day? We could still use a few more people to give lightning talks. There are going to be two sessions: one for student presenters and one for non-students. Submit your proposal for a lightning talk here:

UW Students: Win a $75 UW Bookstore gift card at this year’s UW GIS Day! All you need to do is give a 5 minute lightning talk at UW GIS Day. Audience members will vote on their favorite based on style and content. The winner will receive a $75 UW Bookstore gift card!

Contact Matt Parsons at for more information.

We hope you will join us!

-Matt Parsons, on behalf of the GIS Day Planning Group

Friday, October 30, 2015

UW Students: Win a $75 UW Bookstore gift card at this year’s UW GIS Day!

UW GIS Day is coming up fast, with a full day of events planned for Wednesday, November 18. GIS Day is an international event that showcases how GIS can be used to make a difference in society. UW students have the chance to win a $75 UBookstore gift card by participating in the student presentation session.

All you need to do is give a 5 minute lightning talk at UW GIS Day. We're looking for 8 students who have used GIS in a project or as part of their undergraduate research to give lightning talks. Audience members will vote on their favorite based on style and content. The winner will receive a $75 UW Bookstore gift card!

Submit your proposal for a lightning talk here:

Wednesday, November 18th is GIS Day and the University of Washington will highlight and celebrate the transformational role of Geographic Information Science (GIS) by hosting a day-long event in the UW Libraries' Research Commons. Updated event information is posted here: It's a fun and fast-paced day of GIS goodness that covers a wide variety of disciplines.

Contact Matt Parsons at for more information.

We hope you will join us!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Data Sharing Issue of Journal of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication

Hot off the presses: a new special issue of the Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication (Vol 3, Iss 2, September 2015) is dedicated to research data sharing. Articles include topics such as accessible research data, institutional data polices, data sharing practices, data citation and data management plans, as well Amanda Whitmire's write up "Implementing a Graduate-Level Research Data Management Course: Approach, Outcomes and Lessons Learned." In addition, data from the article is included in the JLSC's dataverse. Looking forward to checking out many, if not most of these articles in the very near future.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Data Webinars, Live and Recorded

Needing a refresher on data your data reference skills? Looking for background information on a particular type of data? Check out the following webinars focused on data and data reference:

On August 18, data librarians Hailey Mooney and Jen Darragh will present a webinar aimed at helping you answer patrons' data and statistics questions. "Data for the Non-Data Librarian" will be held from 11PST/2EST, and will hit topics such as the difference between data and statistics, search strategies for both, ways of finding local area data, and how to leverage free and paid data resources. Register at

Earlier today, the Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association hosted the latest in their "Help, I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian" webinars. Kristin Partlo presented "Accessing Datasets for the Data Curious," which included information on helping patrons download data, exploring the relevance of a dataset, and alerting patrons to common pitfalls and patterns. This series of webinars is archived online: other webinars covered court records, environmental data, the National Archives, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, geocoding, and many (many!) more, most of which have the slides and recorded session available.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

IASSIST2015 Research Data Management Sessions

IASSIST2015 logo
The International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology (IASSIST2015) upcoming conference (Bridging the Data Divide: Data in the International Context) is highly focused on data, with tracks on research data management, data services professional development, and data infrastructure and applications. It draws an international crowd that skews social science, but other types of data librarians/curators/managers are also in attendance in large numbers. There are typically multiple sessions in each block that a data librarian might want to attend, and trying to pick through based simply on track might have you missing some excellent offerings in another area.

That said, my job is "data curriculum and communications librarian," so my interests lie primarily in data services, policy, marketing and communications, and teaching and education. I've picked through the schedule and am sharing here the sessions I plan on attending. And though there's a large number of posters and pecha kucha talks I'm interested in, I highlighted the ones that best matched my primary interests.

Check out the list here, and feel free to share your own list in the comments below.

Monday, May 18, 2015

ALA 2015 Research Data Management/Curation Programming

ALA hasn't historically been known for a heavy dose of data librarian-related sessions or presentations, but it's worth taking a look at this year's annual conference (#alaac15). There's a small but topical group of sessions that will be of interest to data librarians/curators, including a data management plan preconference, a two-part session on data visualization in the library, and a panel presentation from DCIG titled "Conversations with Digital Curation Practitioners," with talks from three speakers and a chance for Q&A.

If you're heading to San Francisco, check out the list of data-related sessions here If I've left anything off, please let me know in the comments. And make sure to tweet as you conference! We'll be watching the hashtag for data-related comments.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Upcoming data speakers on UW Campus

Several upcoming speakers on the UW campus will be of interest to local data folks:
  • Tuesday, April 28 @ 1:30, Data Science Studio, 6th floor Physics/Astronomy Tower. Tony Hey will speak on Physics and Computing: Open Science Decoded. Abstract: "The talk will start with the OSTP memo on open access, and then go on to discuss executable papers and best practice for reproducibility of computational physics research. After looking at computing for Big Physics (e.g. the ATLAS collaboration at the CERN LHC), for Medium-scale Physics (with the UK's Collaborative Computational Projects), and for Long Tail Physics, the paper ends with some comments about open source, scientific software quality and career paths for scientific software developers."
  • Wednesday, April 29 @ 2pm, Allen Auditorium, Allen Library. Data Librarian Jenny Muilenburg will address Data Management Plans: Reading, Writing, and Sharing. Topics will include some of the different agency requirements around DMPs, some local resources to help create DMPs, and some examples from different disciplines.
  • Wednesday, April 29 @ 3:30pm, Data Science Studio. Cesar Hidalgo from the MIT Media Lab, Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies. Abstract: "The universe is made of energy, matter and information; but information is what makes the universe interesting. Without information, the universe would lack the shapes, structures, and order that gives the universe both its beauty and complexity. But where does information comes from and what are the natural, social, and economic mechanisms that help information grow? In this talk I will describe the growth of physical order—or information—from atoms to economies by explaining the physical mechanisms that allow order to exist, and the social and economic mechanisms that allow order to prevail in our society and economy."
  • Tuesday, May 5 @ 4pm, Data Science Studio. There will be an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT)Info Session and Reception, useful for those wanting to know more about the Big Data IGERT PhD fellowship or the PhD program. Brief presentations from several IGERT students on current research will be features, as well as a Q&A session.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Data Management Plan Learning Session: 4/29, 2-3:30pm

On Wednesday, April 29, data librarian Jenny Muilenburg will lead a learning session titled "Data Management Plans: Reading, Writing and Sharing," from 2-3:30pm in the Allen Auditorium (Allen Library, University of Washington). During this 90 minutes, attendees will spend time learning about the different disciplinary and/or agency requirements for data management plans (DMPs), and will look at some examples from different disciplines. Tools and resources available to UW patrons will also be introduced, including DMP consults by librarians and DMPTool.

If you're unfamiliar with data management plans (or research data management in general), these very short videos from the University of Minnesota are a great introduction, and will be good preparation for the session.

This workshop is the last in a series began last fall. The first two were "Data Librarianship: Skills and Definitions," and "Archives & Repositories." See the workshop links here:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Responses to NSF's (and Other Agencies') OSTP Response (Got That?)

Last month, the National Science Foundation released a report titled "Today's Data, Tomorrow's Discoveries: Increasing Access to the Results of Research Funded by the National Science Foundation." (We summarized yhehighlights in our blog post on March 18, 2015.) This plan is the first piece of the NSF goal to provide increased public access to NSF research outputs; more from NSF is expected this month.

There was a flurry of twitter-tivity following the report's release; you can follow the continued discussion via the hashtag #OSTPresp. You'll also be able to follow a discussion about other agencies' OSTP responses that were released in the few weeks prior to the NSF report. After several agencies updated or released new policies in close succession, Amanda Whitmire at Oregon State University updated her libguide describing Federal Public Access Plans, and also created a crowd-sourced document to keep track of agencies and their plans, available here: Primarily maintained by academic library-based data specialists, the document is open to additions and edits, which will help everyone stay current as new plans come out (and old ones are edited). The document includes whether an agency's policy covers data as well as traditional research outputs, embargoes, data management plan (DMP) details, preferred repositories (if stated), and more.

The UW Libraries has created a simplified version of this document that is geared toward whether agencies have DMP requirements and what their preferred repository is, with an intended audience that is not in the librarian world. Here you'll find a list of agency requirements, where data and articles are made available, and whether or not there's a DMP requirement. It's a little easier for the layperson to digest than the full list, and can be helpful in presenting this information to faculty and researchers.

Continue to watch twitter and this blog for further information about OSTP responses and what they mean for researchers. And feel free to add anything we've missed in the comments.