The Arcus Library Science team aims to preserve and expose research products to enable new discoveries and collaborations within the CHOP research community. To achieve this goal, the Library Science team works across three functional areas: Archives, Metadata, and Discovery. In the remainder of this post, you’ll read more about the individual team members and the specific duties of each area.
If you’re wondering “what are archivists and librarians doing at CHOP in the first place?,” you can find out more here. In short, librarians and archivists are trained to address the complexities of storing and organizing research data with its potential privacy and confidentiality concerns.
Spencer Lamm, Supervisor of Library Science
As supervisor of Library Science, Spencer designed a team that combines information professionals from across the varying specialities of Archives, Metadata, and Discovery. These specialities were chosen to fit the needs of building an entirely new system for storing, describing, and presenting biomedical research data.
Previous to CHOP, Spencer managed library technology at Swarthmore College and the Tri-College Consortium and then at Drexel University. At both institutions, he was responsible for library applications and infrastructure, digital collections and repositories, and library discovery systems. From these roles, Spencer brings an appreciation for the value of novel interaction between library concepts and technical expertise.
Spencer is a drummer. While he isn’t currently performing, he is enjoying helping his son learn the drums and is currently trying to find cheap ways to soundproof the basement to placate his neighbors.
The role of the Digital Archivists is to steward the ingest of select, contextualized data contributions to Arcus. The Archivists partner with potential contributors to understand their preservation and access needs, evaluate their data, and preserve their data while maintaining its future usability when revisited or shared. Internally, the Archivists help design systems and tools to ensure the integrity and authenticity of data. They also establish supporting standards and workflows to keep track of the data as it is transferred from contributor to Arcus, retaining the legal, administrative, technical, and provenance details necessary to manage it securely in the Arcus Archives.
Christiana Dobrzynski, Digital Archivist
As a Digital Archivist, Christiana looks forward to exploring new parameters for appraising and selecting data collections to support meaningful curation of CHOP’s canonical research knowledge. They joined the Arcus team from Bryn Mawr College, where they were the College Archivist. Other previous archives experience includes work with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dedalus Foundation, and The Museum of Modern Art, as well as overseeing multi-institution archival projects in the region. Additionally, their appreciation for grassroots community-building informs years of consulting work supporting contemporary artists, activists, storytellers, and cultural heritage cooperatives.
They hold a Masters of Science in Library & Information Science with a concentration in Archival Studies from Drexel University as well as a Masters in English Literature and a BA in English, both from the University of Delaware. Outside of digital realms, Christiana loves handweaving textiles, gardening for pollinators, and studying traditional North African herbalism and ethnobotany. Colleagues usually will see them throughout the day accompanied by various herbal tea concoctions.
Nicole Feldman, Digital Archivist
As a Digital Archivist, Nicole Feldman enjoys the challenges of holistically capturing the affordances of complex data objects as well as planning for their ongoing lifecycle management. Prior to joining CHOP, she worked as a Digital Asset Manager at the magazine publisher, Condé Nast, where she oversaw the digital stewardship, downstream workflows, and data and rights management for the brand’s varied media holdings, including Vogue and Vanity Fair. She is excited to apply her experience providing enterprise level services in her work with the diversity of ongoing research efforts at CHOP. Nicole holds a Master of Science in Information Science from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor’s in Religion from Carleton College.
In her free time, Nicole enjoys jogging at a recreational pace, trying out new recipes, visiting landmarks of American architecture with her husband, and moviegoing.
The Metadata Librarians help accomplish the goal of making research data findable and interoperable by establishing structures and standards for metadata. One key way they structure the metadata is through the creation of a schema. The schema is a conceptual map which tracks the relationships of informational fields to one another. Together, these fields give both context and specificity to the item being described.
The Metadata Librarians work primarily with what’s called descriptive metadata. That is, the metadata they collect describes or explains the dataset it is about. For the Library Science team, well-formed descriptive metadata will allow Arcus users to find the projects, studies, datasets, and files they’re looking for. When they populate the fields in the schema using information gathered from clinical or lab files in conjunction with guidance from the researchers who look after this data, they help to achieve the goal of making an item findable.
Hannah Calkins, Metadata Librarian
As part of the Arcus project, Hannah is most excited by the prospect of making existing biomedical research and clinical data discoverable to other researchers who may make use of it. Hannah’s previous experience is in clinical data management at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she became very familiar with the challenges of connecting clinicians and researchers to the data that was right for them. She has a Masters in Information and Library Studies from the University of Texas and undergraduate degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin.
Within the field of information science, Hannah is particularly interested in the influence that culture, language, and experiences have on semantic understanding of terms and categories within and across communities.
Hannah spends her much of free time traveling and playing ultimate frisbee. When she’s not on the road, she can be found at home cooking and spending time with her partner and their two terrible cats.
Julianna Pakstis, Metadata Librarian
In her role as metadata librarian, Julie is especially interested in innovating on traditional library cataloging to find new and increasingly optimal ways to represent CHOP’s research data.
Prior to CHOP, Julie worked in the Penn Museum Library and Temple’s Urban Archives and also interned at the University of Chicago Libraries focusing on metadata for Mesoamerican linguistic audio-visual material. She has a Masters in Information, Library Science – Archives and Preservation from Rutgers and a Bachelor in Classical Studies and Minor in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Julie is a proud dog-mom to retired racing greyhound, Shadow. She tries to run with him as much as possible but he’s much happier to sleep than run these days. While Shadow naps, Julie powerlifts or sews, and has been trying to teach herself violin.
The Data Discovery Librarian is responsible for making the data ingested into Arcus discoverable and reusable. This includes all applications and services that provide unified searching, browsing, and discovery of the Arcus digital archive’s biomedical data, objects, and collections. This involves designing systems and interfaces for a vast spectrum of research needs. To accomplish this, the Data Discovery Librarian utilizes user experience design principles and assessment methodologies to learn more about the emerging needs of CHOP researchers.
Laura McNamara, Data Discovery Librarian
Laura is most looking forward to applying user experience research methods to the development of more intuitive systems in order to facilitate the discovery and reuse of scientific research data. Laura joined the Arcus team from Jefferson University Hospitals & Jefferson University working in electronic resource management and discovery of published scholarly works. She is very interested in research reproducibility and data sharing, as well as user experience mixed methods research. Laura has a Master of Science in Library Science from Clarion University and a Bachelor of Science from Rochester Institute of Technology.
When not thinking about data discovery, Laura is usually knitting or enjoying various forms of fiber arts, preferably while engrossed in science fiction of some kind.