This post was authored by intern Maria Lee , as part of DCN’s partnership with the National Center for Data Services (NCDS). These internships are funded with Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).*

This summer, I am an intern with the Data Curation Network through the NNLM’s National Center for Data Services (NCDS) Data Librarianship Internship Program. The program places graduate students with project hosts with the goal of introducing students of color to data librarianship. We are halfway through the 10-week internship through which I had the opportunity to attend the DCN’s Specialized Data Curation Workshop in Princeton, NJ in late June. At the workshop, almost 30 people from across the country gathered at Princeton University to learn about and dig deeper into the CURATE(D) steps. Workshop participants represented DCN member institutions as well as other colleges, universities, and research institutions. From our first round of introductions, it was clear that the room held a wealth of knowledge and a wide range of experience in libraries and data services. 

From L to R: Abby Scheetz, Karl Benedict, and Tamiru Denka

As a current MLIS student with limited experience with data curation and research data management, I started to feel intimidated by the various titles my peers shared — Geospatial Data and Programs Librarian, Bioinformatics Librarian, Research Data Literacy Librarian — however, I was quickly put at ease during our first break when I got a chance to talk with my peers who were welcoming, curious, and encouraging. Regardless of their role and experience, workshop participants were eager to connect with peers who shared a commitment to open science and ethical data management. As the workshop progressed, our instructors modeled humility and a commitment to learning from all experiences. “Good ideas come from everywhere,” one workshop instructor told me. This sentiment is well integrated into the culture of the DCN’s workshops which welcomed all experience levels and provided meaningful opportunities for everyone to participate. Creating a curriculum that benefits a group with mixed experience levels can be challenging, but the workshop balanced instruction with peer learning and small group activities. This allowed participants to practice curating real data, share tools, ask questions, and reflect on the workflows in their own institutions. 

From L to R: Jenny Coffman, Christina Fidler, Shanna Smith, Laura Bowman, and Tyler Wade

In school, I have learned about digital repositories and theoretical barriers to maintaining highly discoverable digital resources. However, I haven’t had to personally engage with the real-world challenges that my peers discussed, such as building institutional support for data services, technical limitations in repository software, and navigating relationships with researchers. While the challenges abound, I was encouraged to see that my peers turned to collaboration and peer networks in the face of these challenges. One of my major takeaways from the workshop was that we cannot expect to personally master everything that falls under the umbrella of data services and data curation. However, we can build up our expertise in an area that we are called to and be generous with our expertise in hopes of building a larger community of practitioners dedicated to meaningful collaboration. As the workshop wrapped up, one participant noted that this workshop helped build their confidence and helped them see the value they bring as a librarian into data curation and research data management. I too feel more confident with what I know, and maybe more importantly what I don’t know, and am looking forward to asking more questions and learning about the challenges and opportunities in the field.

To cite this blog post, please use: Lee, Maria. (2023) “Good ideas come from everywhere: Reflections from the DCN’s Specialized Data Curation Workshop.” Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,

*This project was partially funded by Federal funds from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH), under cooperative agreement number UG4LM01234 with the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, Lamar Soutter Library. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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