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IDCC: Building an International Community of Practice

By Rachel Frick

Last week I was honored to be one of the 53 poster presenters at the 9th Annual International Data Curation Conference (IDCC) held in San Francisco.

It was a great program as always, with an interesting mix of attendees. It is amazing how far we have come since IDCC began in Bath, in September 2005.

Our conversations are more nuanced and complex as we examine the issues regarding the management, preservation, uses, and reuse of digital research data. We are refining our arguments and expanding our understanding. We are creating a new class or type of professional work that supports the curation of digital data, whether these professionals are called data librarians, data scientists, data stewards, or data curators, as Liz Lyon discussed in her workforce presentation.

The one conversation I felt was missing was how we foster the community of practitioners already in place. How do we strengthen the network of newly minted data professionals who come from traditional and non-traditional paths alike—those who find themselves to be the sole data person at their library? How can we share what we are learning at home in real time, turning to each other to grow and advance our work, together?

We have outlets for the library data curation community that are more research oriented (e.g., iPresJCDLTPDL), or are targeted toward our educators (iConference). And IDCC does a great job of connecting practitioners, educators, and researchers at its annual conference. But what are the resources for practitioners and new professionals? There is the Digital Curation Google group and RDAP, as well as many research data and data curation interest groups in several professional library associations. To an extent, the Digital Library Federation community also stretches to include those working in this area. Are these meetings and associations enough to foster the growing community of research data practitioners community? Do we need an intermediary step or a space in between a listserv and a professional conference?

This is a conversation I have had periodically with colleagues as a result of DLF’s involvement with the E-Science Institute, and most recently at IDCC with Jen Green of Michigan.

It comes down to one basic question: how do we connect in a way that encourages collaboration and strengthens skills necessary for us to successfully meet the challenges associated with research data?

We struggled with this after the E-Science Institute. After organizational teams participated they expressed the desire to stay in touch, to know how participants fared in their strategic agendas, and to understand the common challenges they faced. But, CLIR’s online community space for E-Science participants has been very quiet. Is it the wrong tool? Or have we lapsed back into having conversations with only a few, in our own private gardens, coming up only to broadcast how well we are doing?

We recently did a small survey of former ESI participants, and they expressed the desire to reconnect and learn more about research data initiatives and how to develop skills and services to support such s initiatives on their campuses.

As a result, CLIR is excited to offer E-Research Peer Network and Mentoring as a follow-up course to the E-Science Institute. We hope that this experience will foster a practitioner network through the process of sharing information about the implementation of the agendas, participant-directed learning, and shared skill development, through a series of webinars, informal online gatherings, and an in-person half-day conference.

Registration information and updates can be found at

A general “open house” webinar is scheduled for March 12 from 12:00-1:30 pm EST. Join us at No registration is necessary

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