This post is part of our Curators’ Corner series. Every so often we’ll feature a different DCN Curator. The series grew out of a community-building activity wherein curators at our 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!

Sherry Lake, University of Virginia

Sherry Lake is the Scholarly Repository Librarian at the University of Virginia. Sherry was interviewed by Madina Grace in February 2024.

How did you come to your current position?

I’ve been at the University of Virginia (UVa) Library for over 20 years but I’ll start in 2010 when the NSF sharing data letter came out. The UVa Library started a small team of scientific data consultants who started working on the data management templates to help our researchers. I was part of the UVa Librarians that teamed with the California Digital Library and created the DMPtool.

UVA started hosting an institutional repository in 2013 and I have supported it for almost 10 years including doing some backend work.

So what do you do in your day-to-day job?

My official title is Scholarly Repository Librarian. I am part of the Scholarly Communications Team at the Library. I support frontend and troubleshoot technical issues with our data repository which is based on the Dataverse software. I also support graduate students who deposit electronic theses and dissertations and an open repository for pre-prints, post-prints, and other scholarly works.

There are three different repositories, the ETD and Open repositories are based on Hydra; we are in the process of developing a new ETD/Open repository in house.

How much of your job involves data curation?

UVa doesn’t have a guideline for data curation. Researchers do self deposits. As a part of DCN I hope to establish some policies and guidelines about curation for UVa. But through the Data Curation Network, I have curated 5 datasets for other member institutions. Curating for the DCN will certainly help me when UVa starts curation; I feel I am getting better at curating the more I do.

Why is data curation important to you?

I really think that curation is important because in our self deposits there’s so many things that could use a README and be more understandable for users. It is also vital for the data reuse and clarity of any project. 

The Dataverse software, which is the underlying software for our data repository, LibraData, has all technology necessary for data curation, including creating checksums and curators’ reviews.

Why is the Data Curation Network important?

I like the opportunity to participate in the DCN steering groups. That and DCN Curator check-ins help me get to know fellow data repository managers and data management liaisons. It’s great to have a pool of knowledge to go to to ask questions. I love data people and have known some of them for years!

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

I could see myself being in a small, maybe a special, library that is still academic but is subject specific, e.g. transportation or physics. I could assist with reference or technical questions and have a personal connection with all the library users.

What is your favorite cuisine?

That’s a tough question. I have so many favorite options, e.g. pizza, steak and breakfast waffles. 

Charlottesville has the best bagel shop in town called Bodo’s Bagels. One of the datasets in our data repository has a 3D image of a Bodo’s bagel:

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love watching sports! My husband and I have season tickets to UVa baseball; it is my favorite sport to watch in person. I also have three cats that need constant attention: Cali, Kate, and Tim. Tim frequently appears on DCN zooms.

What is your favorite city?

I love Boston, it’s easy to get around and they have the Boston Red Sox, so I’ve been to quite a few baseball games there.

Where would you most like to travel to next?

My favorite PBS show is “All Creatures Great and Small” filmed in Yorkshire, England and it’s where I want to travel next. The English countryside looks so peaceful: sheep, green rolling hills and adorable gingerbread houses.

To learn more about Sherry, and the datasets she has curated for the DCN, see her curator page!

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