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From data to the creation of meaning part II: data librarian as translator

Presenter 1
Kristin Partlo
Carleton College

While institutions, methodology and geography all present barriers for communication and development of infrastructure, sometimes the greatest barriers may be in reaching not across the world but across the hallway. Engaging in the work of unified infrastructure requires finding language that bridges modes of inquiry and meaning, so that all participants see their place in the whole. This work of finding shared language involves translation at many levels. Data professionals know that not everyone means the same thing by ‘data’ and increasingly we seek language that spans the practices of social science, sciences, humanities, and performing arts. This paper aims to highlight some of the ways in which data professionals are already adept at translation. Drawing on examples from work as a subject librarian and data professional at an undergraduate institution, I will elaborate on ways in which translation permeates our daily work, from helping new researchers learn the language and methods of a field, to supporting faculty as they expand their teaching and research across disciplines. Additionally, our role as semi-outsiders within the institution situates us well to help drive conversations spanning disciplinary modes of thinking, in which faculty may also find themselves as semi-outsiders.

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