How did you become interested in librarianship?
I ended up working as a librarian by what I would describe as “happy accident.” I got my BS in ecology at UC San Diego (it’s good to be back!) and my MS in marine science at Oregon State University. As it turned out, I wasn’t all that keen on a life of field work but I really enjoyed working with data. Before I started my current position, I spent 3 years as Data Manager/Research Assistant with the Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach at Washington State University. I learned a lot about coding, data wrangling, and data analytics, and discovered that I love teaching and helping other people work with their data. When I started to search for my next position, I stumbled upon the job of “data librarian.” Turned out, there were great positions that met all my criteria in a field I had never thought about: librarianship. So far, I’d say it’s an excellent fit!
Describe the first time you worked in a library.
This year is the first time I’ve worked in a library and it’s been a great learning experience since day 1. It makes complete sense in hindsight, but when I started, I was not expecting a university library to be such a huge enterprise! It took me all summer to feel like I even kind of had a handle on the organizational structure and knew the roles of most of the departments.
I am a member of the LAUC-SD Research and Professional Development committee for 2018-2020.
What do you like best about being a UC librarian?
I’m really enjoying having a team to collaborate and work with. I’ve been learning everything I can about librarianship since I started and my coworkers have been so generous with their time when I have questions.
Describe a recent or current project on which you are working.
It’s a challenge to pick just one! I’m working with Reit Otsuji in the Research Data Curation Program here on expanding our campus’s Software and Data Carpentry training. For those who are unfamiliar, Software and Data Carpentry (together, “The Carpentries”: https://carpentries.org/) are sister organizations that leverage a global community of volunteers to teach foundational coding and data science skills to researchers. UC San Diego is currently a Carpentries Silver-level member organization and in addition to running quarterly workshops, we’ve been training new instructors and building a local community of Carpentry enthusiasts. I think these workshops are a wonderful and supportive way to get learners (often graduate students) over the initial coding hurdles. They don’t learn everything there is to know about coding in the workshop, but my goal is that they walk away feeling empowered to start tackling research automation tasks. My favorite part is seeing learners have that “a-ha!” moment when things start to click.
I’m also currently organizing UC San Diego’s inaugural Love Data Week (https://lovedataweek.org/about-ldw/) on February 11-15, 2019. The library is hosting a series of seminars and activities (https://lib.ucsd.edu/lovedataweek19) during that week and my hope is that we can educate and inspire students and faculty about all things data.
Describe your recent professional work outside of work, such as association work, writing, research, or anything else.
In my free time, I’m still working on a few projects that carried over from my previous position. One project is finalizing a database of nearly 1.4 million lakes, with annual lake surface area and basin-level climate and population variables for the past 20 years. It’s been a labor of love and I can’t wait until it’s released into the world. Best of all, the database will be entirely free and accessible to anyone who wants to use it!
What would you like the next big thing in libraries to be?
I often feel like I’m working on the next big thing in libraries, but it’s also my day-to-day normal. As more and more data become freely and publicly available, reproducibility and sharing become priorities for many researchers, and students across disciplines become interested in coding and programming for data analysis, compute resources are becoming more important than ever. I’m really interested to see how university libraries tackle the challenge of scaling up computational support, from undergraduate students to faculty researchers.
Complete this statement: "One surprising fact about me is...”
I have dual citizenship. I was born in Calgary, Canada, and moved to the US when I was 5.
Can you recommend a book or movie or tell us your favorite book or movie and why?
It’s not out yet, so I guess I can’t technically recommend it, but I am counting down the days until Captain Marvel is released.
Please note your website or social media site, if you would like to share
I occasionally tweet about data science, coding, and educational stuff at @stephlabou
My Data Science LibGuide (https://ucsd.libguides.com/data-science) includes a “Newsletter posts” tab. These are “what’s new in research and resources in data science” blurbs that go out in the UC San Diego Data Science departmental weekly newsletter. I have a lot of fun putting these together!