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!

Alex Provo, NYU

Alexandra Provo is the Research Curation Librarian at NYU. Alexandra was interviewed by Brandie Pullen in April 2024.

How did you come to your current position?

I was working in metadata before, and I enjoyed that a lot – the mix of technical work and project work. But I also really enjoyed teaching workshops, and that sort of thing. On occasion, I’d get to work with researchers, mostly in digital humanities, and so when this position opened up I was interested in it because it was situated in our Data Services department, which works directly with researchers, students, and faculty. I was able to hop over from our Cataloging Technical Services unit to the Data Services unit.

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

I work with my colleague Talya Cooper as a Research Curation Librarian so we help researchers get their data, code, and other research materials into our new institutional repository UltraViolet.

How much of your job involves data curation?

I would say that is the core of my job. Part of the job right now is doing outreach and getting people to know about our repository and doing that drumming up of business. I work more on the later stages of the research cycle. Since I’m in the wider Data Services Department I also teach workshops, and I do research.

Oh cool, are you researching anything fun right now?

Oh yeah, I am doing a project this year on spreadsheets. So I did a creative MA Thesis on spreadsheets – it was like a quirky website about spreadsheet software as a cultural object – and now I’m doing a project this year on how researchers use spreadsheets.

Why is data curation important to you?

Open access is an important value that I hold. And I think for open research materials to be useful, it can really benefit from a little curation, a little help from those of us who are really thinking about the FAIR and CARE principles. It’s just an important part of our research ecosystem and it helps researchers make the most of their material and bring it forward into the future both for them and for their colleagues and the public.

Why is the Data Curation Network important?

For me personally, I was coming from a different specialty in librarianship, so I’ve really benefited from having such a supportive network where I can take workshops and ask questions. I also think it’s such a cool cooperative model where it’s not just cooperative training, but actually collaborative curation and I think that’s a really cool feature of this.

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

I would be a metadata librarian. I would be doing metadata librarianship and experimenting with Linked Data. I guess I do that a little bit still because I still do research in Linked Data land.

What is your favorite cuisine?

This is very easy for me. It is gelato. I love all frozen treats, but that is my real passion. 

Do you have a certain flavor that’s your favorite?

Yeah, when I’m in Italy I’ll get stracciatella, which is chocolate chip. And then pistachio because it’s very difficult to make well, so it’s a good test if a gelato place is good.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to go birding. I’m not really an outdoorsy hiker type, but I like to be out in nature sometimes. And I like to go to museums. I started my career with an interest in art librarianship.

What is your favorite city?

My favorite city is hands down Florence, Italy. When I lived in Italy that’s where I was for a couple of years. It’s where my heart is. And now my mom lives there so I get to visit. 

Where would you most like to travel to next?

Sometimes it’s hard for me to travel to places other than Italy or California where I have family, but I want to make time to go to Scotland. I’ve never been and I feel like I would really like it. 

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

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