This post is part of a new series we’re calling the Curators Corner. Over the coming months we’ll feature a different DCN Curator each week or so. The series grew out of a community-building activity wherein curators at our ten partner organizations interview each other “chain-letter style” in order to get to know each other and their work outside of the DCN better. We hope you enjoy these posts!

Rachel Woodbrook is the Data Curation Librarian for the University of Michigan. Rachel was interviewed by Shanda Hunt in May of 2019.


How did you come to your current position?

After graduating from library school I worked in community college libraries for a while and then the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in Seattle. I was at IHME for four and a half years before coming to Michigan to pursue new opportunities for growth.

What do you do?

As the main curator I’m the first line of defense and act as a kind of service coordinator. In addition to curation, I develop education and workshops for various departments and librarians. I also do other types of departmental outreach, curate with departmental liaisons, and track technical issues that affect our repository users.

How much of your job involves data curation?

It depends on the number of current deposits. Deposits in our repository average between five and ten each month. Curation work may take between 20 and 60% of my time. Even when I’m not actively curating data I’m still working on data-related issues – working with repository developers, doing usability research, improving documentation, etc.

Why is data curation important to you?

Curated data are more useful and curation enhances data’s impact. It’s hard to sift through everything and find the right information. Curation helps to make data and information more intelligible. I’m involved in a new project at Michigan with the National Center for Institutional Diversity which will focus on data ethics and applying EDI principles to the data lifecycle.

Why is the Data Curation Network important?

If we can create a successful proof of concept it could be applicable to any institution that does this work. The Data Curation Network is thinking beyond the institutional level, and we’re exploring how to leverage capacity across institutions.

If you weren’t doing data curation, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be doing something similar to what I’m doing now, or similar to my last job – data-seeking and interfacing between different groups and types of experts.


To learn more bout Rachel, and some of the datasets she’s curated for the DCN see her curator page!