Finding Community at the 2014 DLF Forum

Brianna Marshall
Brianna Marshall

This Forum Update was provided by Brianna Marshall, Digital Curation Coordinator, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

@notsosternlib | briannamarshall.com

This year, I was one of several proud recipients of the DLF New Professionals Fellowship. It seemed fitting, as I just started in June of this year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison – new graduate in a new position at a new DLF member institution. And what do you know? I have only great things to say about DLF.

Early on in the conference a panelist said, “There are no dumb questions about technology.” Now, I couldn’t tell you in what session this delightful phrase was uttered, but I can say that I was really excited to hear it. I am bad at accepting the in-between times, the awkward not-yet-good-at-something part. The phase where you have to ask questions that feel crazy dumb. Sometimes I am bad at saying, “I need help.” It can feel as though to admit that you don’t get something exposes you as a fraud. So even though in theory I value openness in myself and in others, letting the honesty come out is tricky. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

So needless to say, it was inspiring to be at a conference like DLF where openness was the norm, where people admitted to the shortcomings of projects and shared what they wanted to do better. This attitude is so, so critical to helping our community thrive. I’m in a digital generalist role with data management, digital preservation, the institutional repository, and scholarly communication all in my job. It’s incredibly fun and I am learning a lot, sure, but there’s also the near-constant thought that I have a lot to learn. Sometimes that’s exciting – a future full of new knowledge! – and other times it’s daunting enough to hide away. DLF helped all the not knowing feel not only acceptable but common: we’re all in the same boat and we all have things to learn and teach one another.

The point of DLF is not the presentations, which were varied and overwhelmingly impressive – a bonus. The point was pretty clearly the community. The conversation. The people. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t awesome – even though I felt very new with little to add, people talked to me. They were excited to hear that it was my first time at DLF. I even became an automatic meeting spot thanks to the magenta hair acting as a sort of signpost. We all know that the true sign of a successful conference is conversation that spills out past the frenzied conferencing days, and I’m happy to report that it has.

And now, to say thank you.

I wouldn’t probably have made it to DLF 2014 without my favorite librarian, Michelle Dalmau, who wrote me a letter of recommendation in 2013 (no scholarship) and then again in 2014 (scholarship!).

Thanks also to the program planning committee, listed here. Wow! The conference was great – thank you for your hard work to make it so. I met several of you and got to say thank you in person, but for all the rest, know that I appreciate it and look forward to saying hello soon.

To refrain from mentioning the superb efforts of the DLF staff (primarily Louisa) would be sad indeed. From responding to twitter comments about the temperature to adjusting methods of getting box lunches to attendees, their efforts were crucial to the event running smoothly. Plus, I was given an extra drink ticket after I foolishly lost mine. True pals! For real though, I’ve never been to a conference that was so expertly managed.

See you again soon, DLF. I’ll be back.

For those who weren’t in attendance and want to get the DLF 2014 experience: