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News Highlights from the NNLM Middle Atlantic Region
Updated: 5 hours 47 min ago

Understanding How Librarians can Support Data Science and Big Data

Mon, 2018-09-24 08:00

In the NNLM Big Data in Healthcare: Exploring Emerging Roles course, we asked participants, as they progressed through the course to consider the following questions: Do you think health sciences librarians should get involved with big data in healthcare? Where should librarians get involved, if you think they should? If you think they should not, explain why. You may also combine a “should/should not” approach if you would like to argue both sides. NNLM will feature responses from different participants over the coming weeks.

Written by Cathryn Miller, Social Sciences Librarian, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA

Supporting data science and big data means supporting a new form of research.  Researchers engaging in data science often find or collect big data (large volumes of data), wrangle (prepare) the data, analyze it, and create reports (Federer, 2018).  A common technique used in data science is machine learning in which machines (computers) learn how to cluster, make recommendations, predict outcomes etc based on what the machines learn from the data.  In a healthcare setting, big data and data science can transform the clinical decision-making process.

How can librarians support researchers engaging in data science?  By no means do I think that librarians must learn advanced statistics or computer programming to support data science and big data.  We can support data science and big data by extending our strengths in providing access to information and in providing instruction.  In addition, librarians may want to consider learning about research data management, “the active management and appraisal of data over the lifecycle of scholarly and scientific interest” (Jones & Pickton, 2013).

Providing Access to Information: Focusing collection development efforts on data science methodology could be very helpful, especially for researchers who are venturing into data science for the first time.  Topics for books and ebooks might include machine learning, research data management, data visualization, text mining, algorithms, R programming language, python, data wrangling etc.  Curating those resources on a LibGuide or website, along with links to websites that help people learn about data science and obtain support (eg might be especially useful.

Organizing Workshops:  Librarians can facilitate learning by organizing workshops.  Librarians have created and shared workshop materials on a variety of data science topics; Kristin Briney at The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee made her principles of data visualizations workshop available to be reused (Briney 2017).  There are also many workshops about research data management that librarians can use such as the Research Data Management Essentials workshop created by Alisa Surkis and Kevin Read at New York University (Read & Surkis, 2018).

Services Supporting Research Data Management:  Librarians’ specialized knowledge in finding, storing and preserving information could be particularly helpful for data scientists.  Consulting with researchers to help them create data management plans, think about the way their data are documented and organized, protected, stored and shared is a task that relates to librarian skillsets.   

Librarians don’t have to become experts in data science and big data to help those collecting and analyzing big data.  By providing access to information and organizing workshops, librarians can support data scientists.  Librarian support is key to helping researchers thrive, regardless of whether their data is big or small, and regardless of the methodologies they use.


Briney, K. (2017). Data Visualization Camp Instructional Materials (2017). UWM Libraries Instructional Materials. 4.

Federer, L. (2018). Data Science 101


Jones, S., Guy, M., & Pickton, M. (2013). Research data management for librarians [training booklet]. Digital Creation Centre.

Read, K & Surkis, A. (2018). Research Data Management Teaching Toolkit. Retrieved from:

Categories: Data Science

Upcoming Training for Health Sciences Library Staff

Wed, 2018-09-12 11:00

Did you know that you can get free training from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine right from your desktop? Nearly every day, there is a new webinar from NNLM or the National Library of Medicine. Other classes are available through Moodle. Since webinars are available nationally, make sure to take note of time zones. Some upcoming classes that may be of interest to health sciences library staff include:

  • Clinical Information, Librarians and the NLM: From Health Data Standards to Better Health – This interactive webinar series focuses on the roles and products of the National Library of Medicine related to applied medical informatics, particularly as applied to electronic health records systems and clinical research. Sessions are held weekly on Thursdays through October 4, from 12:00-12:40 PM ET.
  • PubMed for Librarians – PubMed for Librarians is made up of six 90-minute segments. These six segments will be presented via WebEx and recorded for archival access. Each segment is meant to be a stand-alone module designed for each user to determine how many and in what sequence they attend. Register for the next live session (part 4) coming up on September 19 from 2:00-3:30 PM ET, or watch a recording.
  • Accessible Library Customer Service – September 19, 1:00-2:00 PM ET – Gain knowledge and tools to provide accessible customer service in your library by joining us for this one-hour webinar! This presentation will give an overview of disability including appropriate terminology, creating an accessible environment, and evaluating current practices for way-finding, emergency preparedness, and web resources. Other topics include budgeting for accessibility, accessible employment, specific service needs, potential partner organizations, and a plethora of tips and resources for future use.
  • – September 26, 3:00-4:00 PM ET – This presentation will help you learn how to navigate the site and understand the nuances and limitations of information available on
  • NNLM Research Data Management Webinar Series – The NNLM Research Data Management (RDM) webinar series is a collaborative, bimonthly series intended to increase awareness of RDM topics and resources. The series aims to support RDM within the library to better serve librarians and their institutional communities. The next webinar in this series, Planning, Developing, and Evaluating R Curriculum at the NIH Library, is coming up on October 12 from 2:00-3:00 PM ET.
  • LinkOut for LibrariesNovember 1, 2:00-3:00 PM ET – LinkOut for Libraries provides journal access to PubMed users. Join us for an informational webinar to learn more about this service from the National Library of Medicine. Erin Latta, from the National DOCLINE Coordination Office, will lead this webinar.

In addition to scheduled courses, NNLM has a number of “on-demand” self-paced classes via Moodle, such as:

Most webinars are recorded, so you are encouraged to register for a session of interest, even if you cannot make the live webinar. To register for classes, you just need to create an account.

You can find additional opportunities on our training schedule.

The best way to find out about upcoming trainings, NLM updates and other information from the Network is to subscribe to MAR Weekly Postings, which come out on Fridays.

Categories: Data Science

Did you miss the first round of MAR funding? Apply now for $19,000

Thu, 2018-08-30 13:00

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region, a health information outreach program funded by the National Library of Medicine, has funding for two grants of $19,000. Libraries, community-based organizations, schools, health care providers, and other organizations that provide health programming or services within PA, NY, NJ or DE are eligible to apply. Applications are due October 5, 2018, and award funds must be spent by April 30, 2019.

Applications for funding less than $15,000 will not be considered at this time.

Projects can fall under one of these categories:

  • Clinical and Public Health Outreach Award: Projects that enhance clinicians’ and public health workers’ abilities to find and use biomedical and health information in practice and for patient education.
  • Outreach to Consumers Award: Projects that improve health information literacy and increase the ability for patients, family members, students and members of the general public to find and use health information.
  • Health Sciences Library Project Award: Projects that support health sciences librarians as conduits of information management, access, and delivery within their institution and/or outreach community.
  • Health Literacy Project Award: Projects that promote a culture of health literacy within the organization.

Potential applicants are encouraged to review the above RFPs and watch a one hour recorded webinar on writing applications for NNLM MAR funding. Additional questions may be sent to

Stay tuned: Another round of funding opportunities will be announced soon to encourage proposals from public libraries or involving public library partnerships!

Categories: Data Science