My upcoming “practice your data sci skills” events

Posted April 8, 2014 By Abigail Goben

I’ve got a couple of different speaking engagements coming up–a workshop here in Chicago and a preconference in Vegas!

First, in about two weeks, on April 24, my research partner Rebecca Raszewski and I will be giving a workshop at the University of Chicago. It’s being held the day before the Zar Symposium whose subject this year is Data: Collecting, Using, Managing.  I can’t find any further information on the website and I know they were going to set a small cap so it’s possible that the workshop is full. But so you can see what I’m doing, here’s the official announcement:

Exploring Our Own Data: Practical Application of Data Management : Skills to Library Data Sets
[April 24, 2014, 1:00-4:00; The John Crerar Library; The University of Chicago]
As need for experience with managing data sets continues to grow, librarians need hands-on opportunities to work through the data life cycle and practice their own data management skills. Library data sets present a rich trove for exploration and expansion of this skill set. Join Abigail Goben and Rebecca Raszewski for a hands-on workshop using reference desk statistics to improve your data skills. Discuss challenges and pitfalls of working through the data life cycle, including licensing rights and the hazards of multiple hands capturing data. Explore creating forms and doing some preliminary statistical analysis with Google Tools. Utilize Open Refine, an open source tool for standardizing and transforming messy data, with an instructor-provided data set.

And then in June I’ll be giving a preconference for LITA at the ALA Conference in Vegas.  With Sarah Sheehan and Nathan Putnam, we’ll be doing a full day on practicing data science skills, working with an actual library data set.

Here’s the official announcement:

“Managing Data: Tools for Plans and Data Scrubbing” with Abigail Goben, University of Illinois, Chicago; Sarah Sheehan, George Mason University; Nathan B. Putnam; University of Maryland.
As data continues to come to the fore, new tools are becoming available for librarians to assist faculty and use with their own data. This preconference will focus on the DMPTool and OpenRefine. The DMPTool will be presented to demonstrate customization features, review data management plans, best and worst practices and writing a data plan for a data set a library may collect. OpenRefine will be demonstrated with sample data to show potential use with library data sets and more of the data lifecycle process; metadata will also be covered.

So what does that really mean? It means we’re going to spend the day getting your hands dirty, doing a lot of hands on practice and we’re doing to do it with actual library data. If you’ve got a small data set that you want to bring and spend the day working with, you’ll be encouraged to do that, but we’ll also have one there for you to work on it too. You’ll work through the process of a data lifecycle, answer the questions not just as a librarian, but as a data scientist. I expect a rousing debate about sharing non-sensitive library data and I am looking forward to seeing how people approach data standardization differently–as well as documenting that standardization. Sarah and I are neither data librarians full time, so we’re coming from the liaison perspective. Nathan, though, is the Head of the Metadata Services, and he’s going to take all of us through  improving our metadata skills (one of the advantages of putting this together is I get to learn from him too!).

Registration is definitely still open for the pre-conference. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions! If you have an idea of a data set that you’d like to bring, it’s worth starting to think about that now as it’s ALREADY APRIL (yeeesh) and June is going to be here shortly after I finish my next cup of coffee.



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Open Access Tenure: Waiting Game

Posted March 18, 2014 By Abigail Goben

There have been a couple of inquiries about where things are, what I’ve heard, etc.

In short, I’ve heard nothing.

It’s one of those things that went so firmly on back burner the second my papers were turned in that getting asked surprised me. After a January spent updating all of my files, February was the month of keeping candidates straight (18 in person interviews, where I spent anywhere between 30-180+ minutes with each candidate), and now suddenly it’s mid-March and the vote is tomorrow. Once the library p&t committee is through the vote, I’m not sure the process, but I’m sure someone will start sending me information shortly thereafter. And, if all goes well, I’ll get to proceed for another 18 months towards the next tenure review.

In the interim, I’ve been dealing with edits of one of my manuscripts and feeling guilty about a manuscript that I haven’t touched in more than six weeks and really guilty about a research partner whose most recent deadlines went whooshing by and I felt helpless to try and even make an effort.

Most of my attention recently has been trying to sort out some things for LITA Education and also dig back out from being out of my office and in front of candidates so much for a month. This week [she said, looking around and preparing to duck] is a lot quieter than most of my weeks have been since the beginning of the year and I actually feel like I’m making a dent in some of the backlog. Let’s not pretend I’m about to be all caught up and bored, but at least the possibility of treading water is coming.

Next week I’m traveling to Research Data Access and Preservation. I recalled that I’d be traveling soon over the weekend and then wondered why I felt so disconnected from the conference. I realized why, eventually–this is the first national library conference I’ve been to in about three years where I wasn’t either giving a presentation, leading a committee, or on the planning committee. The other two exceptions were the Data Literacy conference I attended at Purdue last fall (pulled a planned poster due to co-author leaving my institution) and the Stats conference I listened in on (not a library conference, trust me, though librarians should be there). As with my trip to Woods Hole last May for the Bioinformatics Course, I’m thrilled to be going and just learning and enjoying the presentations and networking with colleagues. It does mean that I haven’t done a whole lot of preparation for the meeting though… Oh well, I’ve got clean clothes and a 3 hour plane ride to sort that out, right?

Then it’s back to the grind here and I must tell you all the details of the upcoming preconference I’m presenting in Vegas…

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In Memoriam: Marilyn Goben

Posted March 4, 2014 By Abigail Goben

Marilyn Goben (July 6, 1931 – March 4, 2014)

My paternal grandmother, Momoe, was a farmer’s daughter who went on to work at “the Bank” for many years. I’m not sure if it was always the same bank, but when I was little it was Bank One. The second wife of her widower husband, she had three children of her own plus raising his daughter. She became a divorced woman and single parent at a time when that was far less common. It is of her that I think when I hear about the glass ceiling of many professions. She trained many young men in the banking business who would then be promoted over her.  The title of “Momoe” came before I was born, something an extended cousin said at a family party that my sister, then herself a toddler, squashed into a new name.

My earliest memories of her were at her condo, which had sliding glass doors and deep orange shag carpeting in the basement and a stationary bicycle. She lived in a complex that had it’s own pool and going there was a particularly favorite activity when we were visiting. She usually brought along “pool cookies”–which was the only name I had for sugar wafers for years. Strawberry and chocolate were the best flavors, vanilla was what you ate because you’d run out of the good ones. She also kept a jar of red hots in the pantry on a lower shelf, for the 4 year old me that would go in search of the cinnamon treats. On her fridge were tons of different magnets, and that was something I remember picking out for her as gifts.  She attempted, more than once, to teach me to crochet. It never took, though I can at least get through a basic chain if I absolutely have to.

Staying over at her house meant exploring all of the perfume samples that she kept on her dresser–though she traditionally only ever wore one scent. I remember a Christmas a few years ago, standing at the perfume counter getting samples, closing my eyes and inhaling until we found the one that smelled “like Momoe.”

She did seemingly endless crossword puzzles and rounds of solitaire, she always wore house slippers, and she hated being photographed, so I have very few pictures of her. Her favorite color was purple. She only wore diamonds. Fairly late in life, she had her ears pierced a second time so she could wear a pair of diamond studs all the time.

Over the years and due to myriad reasons, we’ve grown further apart, though I would see her at Christmas and I made a special trip to my aunt’s cabin in northern Michigan a couple of summers ago to celebrate her 80th birthday.

Since then I’ve not seen her much. The last time I believe I saw her was, sadly, at my maternal grandmother’s wake. I marveled that she’d driven herself, kind of scary as she’d had most of the nerves in her feet killed. Most recently her health has been deteriorating and at the turn of the new year, when her health would start it’s final decline, I drafted this so I wasn’t writing from a place of immediate grief, just editing. Now she is at rest, no more in pain nor hampered by a body that at 82, has been frustratingly failing her of late.

Just a couple of weeks ago I spent the last Christmas gift she gave me, from 2012, a gift card that I used for some really beautiful yarn. And perhaps it’s fitting that I’m just about done with a project called Pool Cookies.  For now, I will be remembering her.




Here Come the Candidates

Posted February 4, 2014 By Abigail Goben

Around Workplace Hedgehog it’s all in person interviews all the time. Starting today and ending on February 24, I’m seeing at least 13 candidates, possibly a total of 16 or 17 if I can squeeze in the presentations for one more search.  This will hopefully culminate in 6 different new people getting hired across a couple of colleges over the next few months.  I’m looking forward immensely to the influx of people but also slightly dizzy at the idea of seeing a different person or two every day for a while.  My calendar pretty much looks like: answer email, see candidate(s), write up candidate for search chair, answer email, go home. My dry cleaner is thrilled, I’m dressing up every day.

I know a number of people who are job hunting and I’ll briefly point back to the posts I put out earlier this summer that I hope people will find useful:

From My Side of the Search Committee:

Cover Letters
CVs and Interview Tips
Things We Need to do Better

And put out the offer again that if you’d like me to take a read through your cover letter (as long as it’s not for a UIC position) I’m happy to offer feedback.

January was paperwork, February will be candidates, I’m kind of afraid to ask what March will bring as it’s theme this year…





Open Access Tenure: Read my 3Y Papers

Posted January 28, 2014 By Abigail Goben

Last week I promised you my 3Y paperwork so that you could see the forms I’ve filled out and the statements I’ve written.  I’ve redacted only a couple of works in progress that I’m not quite ready to share with the world and papers that weren’t generated by me (letters of support, statements from other people).  But if you’d like to wade through all of it, you’re welcome to do so here: That link will be up until September, after that, you can send me an email if you’d like to see them.

Now that everything has gone in, I’m amazed to realize that we’re already at the end of January and that I really haven’t done as much as I’d planned for the first month of the year. The weather certainly hasn’t helped but here we are nearly to February and I feel like I’m coming out of a fugue state and trying to now play catch up. And of course, email and meetings don’t take many days off.

Getting through this far feels like I should now have a break, and in theory I do as my next round of papers won’t become a giant headache for another 18 months, but in practice I have a lot to do.  Assuming everything goes well, I’ll be getting feedback on things I should be improving before my 5Y paperwork deadlines so there will be areas to work on and those works in progress should really be moving over to the works published column.

Hope that you are staying warm and dry wherever it is you’re reading from!