This post was authored by Erich Purpur, Science and Engineering Research Librarian at the University of Virginia.
This year’s DCN All Hands meeting took place on June 28th and 29th at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. I’d like to start by saying thank you to our fearless leader, Mikala Narlock, and the organizing team at Princeton which included Wind Cowles, Sarah Reiff Conell, Matt Chandler, Neggin Keshavarzian, Hannah Hadley, and Halle Burns. It is always a thankless task to organize any event and thanks to their effort the All Hands Meeting was well organized and enjoyable for the rest of us!
The event was attended in-person by people from around the country though naturally other institutions in the region had better attendance. Unfortunately the day before the event saw bad weather in the area and many flights were canceled, leading to re-arranging travel plans and last minute hybrid zoom attendees from many institutions (again thanks to the organizers for arranging that on short notice). My institution, University of Virginia, is a relative newcomer to the Data Curation Network so it was our first time attending the All Hands Meeting. Additionally, I had never been to Princeton and hardly to New Jersey in general so it was a new experience for me.
My favorite session of the two-days was the “group data curation” session. We were put into teams of 5 or 6 people and given a hypothetical dataset to curate. Honestly, I have only curated one dataset on my own and it was really helpful to walk through the process with more experienced DCN members. I was able to see what they are thinking about and what they do when curating a dataset. This gave me really good feedback about my own curation processes which are not yet fully developed. To be honest I don’t remember what the dataset was that we curated and it really didn’t matter. The point of the exercise was to talk through the exercise as a group, bounce ideas off each other, and discuss sticking points.
Of course, a major draw of attending any workshop/conference event like the All Hands Meeting is the people themselves! Again, as a newer DCN member I had not yet made connections throughout the organization. I really liked the relatively small size of the All Hands Meeting (around 40 people) as it was intimate enough to get to talk to people, learn where they are from, what they do, and how we can help each other. At the University of Virginia, we anticipate a lot more data curation from our university community in the future and it was very reassuring to learn that the DCN membership’s expertise is wide ranging and thorough. If in the future we need to submit a dataset to the DCN for curation that falls outside our institutional knowledge, it is in good hands!
Outside of the meeting, I was able to squeeze in some fun activities too. The nightly group dinners were great to meet the attendees in a more informal setting. I am a runner and I went on runs in the morning around campus to see the beautiful old architecture of Princeton, saw people rowing in the river/canal near campus (a sport I know nothing about), and visited some neighborhoods in town outside of the university. This year’s All Hands Meeting was definitely worthwhile for me to attend and I look forward to next year’s meeting at Duke University!
Image 1: Wide view of the conference space with attendees discussing in groups.
Image 2: Wide view of the conference space with attendees discussing workflows. The UVA team is on the right.