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Jen Darragh

Librarian for Data Services and Government Information
Johns Hopkins University
How did you become involved in the world of data?: 
I started working with social science data immediately out of college as a “data intake specialist” (essentially a data coder/cleaner) for a longitudinal research project. The data archivist/librarian part was much more of an accident. I was relocating to State College, PA and right before going away on a trip, I applied for a Data Archivist job at Penn State that had just posted. I wasn’t really sure what the job would entail, but when I had the chance to interview I realized “I could do this – it’s basically just the other side of what I’m already doing.” I worked for Penn State for six years, really got into what I was doing, decided to get my library degree, took a brief (but enjoyable) hiatus from working solely with data for three years to serve as a social and behavioral sciences librarian at VCU, and now I’m back neck deep in data working for Johns Hopkins University as the Librarian for Data Services and Government Information. I couldn’t be happier.
What do you value most about your membership in IASSIST?: 
IASSIST really helped me get to where I am today as a data librarian – it definitely helped shape my career parth. It’s hard for me to believe I’ve basically been doing this kind of work for 10 years, and I’ve been a member of IASSIST all that time. I have learned wonderful things about building data services, understanding data file structure, and data curation and I know that I will continue to learn more. I’ve also made a number of invaluable contacts over the years. We are a community that is constantly evolving as research and technologies evolve. It is the absolute best way to keep your skills current – and I found it even more helpful when I wasn’t solely a data librarian for a few years. I was afraid I’d “lose my edge” but I never did, and IASSIST is a big part of the reason why.
What was your favorite IASSIST conference?: 
While I have enjoyed many IASSIST conferences over the years, I have to say that my current favorite was IASSIST 2008 hosted by Stanford University. I think we had a truly great program that year, and I had a great time in California in general (I had never been there before).
What are some things you are working on currently?: 
Right now I am working on setting up restricted data administration services for the Hopkins Population Center, which is no small task (two campuses and two very different research administration systems). I am taking GIS training so I can become more proficient with helping users that come to the Government Publications, Maps and Law Library (where I live most of the time at Hopkins). I am developing data workshops and instruction sessions that are both resource-based and topic-based. I am also working with colleagues in the medical library who specialize in supporting Public Health research develop an information portal based on evidence-based research methods (I’m handling the “measure the magnitude” portions).
When not working with data I…: 
I tend to be a bit of a foodie, and enjoy cooking and finding restaurants that serve interesting foods. Over the past few years I have learned to incorporate more natural and organic ingredients into my diet – it’s completely changed the way I eat. My boyfriend also has us making our own wine, mead (yes mead), and beer. It’s been fun – especially when what we make tastes great (which, sadly, isn’t always the case). I have a big dog, and we enjoy going for walks – she’s doing well adjusting to city life. I also enjoy knitting, but I’ll admit I’ve been at a loss for what to make next…any ideas?
  • IASSIST Quarterly

    Publications Special issue: A pioneer data librarian
    Welcome to the special volume of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ (37):1-4, 2013). This special issue started as exchange of ideas between Libbie Stephenson and Margaret Adams to collect


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