We've recently had a influx of librarians interested in hosting DataRescue Events, including people wanting to have events connected to library conferences. We' so excited about the enthusiasm these events have inspired. However, the DataRescue Event workflow used by so many wonderful events is imperfect and we'd love to leverage the expertise of these librarians to bridge the work of events to the work going into Libraries+
One of the most wonderful things about DataRescue Events is how it engages communities. "Hackathon" style events draw crowds and press that libraries are not used to seeing - and it's wonderful! People who attend and organize events rightly feel that their work there is a meaningful way to take action and they learn a lot from the experience. We absolutely want to keep this invaluable component to events alive while also making their work even more meaningful by employing better practices, increasing awareness of the broader issues, and taking advantage of the expertise of librarian organizers and participants.
Working within the standard DataRescue web and data archiving workflow, there are some tweaks and additions you might consider. First, the way the workflow is currently organized, Describing comes at the end. Any data curation librarian will tell you that describing and documentation should happen throughout the data life cycle - starting at the beginning. One way you might tweak the workflow is to expand the Research piece of it - having participants add significantly more contextual information to the record for the data. You can also employ the DataRescuePDX workflow to a similar end.
Another easy and important way to connect the standard DataRescue activities to the work of the Libraries+ Network is to have a Long Trail path that thinks about the problems of preserving federal information and how it might be done in more sustainable ways. Insights from this activity can be shared with us -even posted on our blog- to help inform the discussion at the May meeting and beyond. More about what this might look like to come in a subsequent blog post soon!
There have already been some events that have done some different workflows and activities in the name of DataRescue. The second DataRescueNH in Dover, NH taught web archiving skills to attendees. DataRescuePhilly and DataRescueDC had teach-ins and panels to connect the archiving activities to the larger context of the problem. Virginia Tech had a small informational DataRescue event. DataRescuePDX employed a completely different workflow to work on creating metadata for datasets so they'll be more discoverable, harvestable, and usable. DataRescue@UCSD will employ the UCSD Library Digital Collections to make data identified by their scientists available. Many of the events being planned for Endangered Data Week could also be considered DataRescue by improving skills and understanding related to vulnerable digital information. The way we see it, there isn't just one way to do a DataRescue Event - it's all about what your organization can bring to the table and what's best for your community. Whatever you're thinking about doing, we'd love to chat and help you have the best event possible!