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Region 4 News July 19th, 2024
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Funding Recipient Spotlight: Professional Development Grant for the MDLS Conference

Posted in: #CC/Academic List, Funding

This is a guest post written by funding awardee, Corey Black. She used NNLM Region 4 professional development funds to attend the Midwest Data Librarian Symposium last fall.

As a graduate student getting a master’s degree in library and information studies and an early career librarian, stepping into the realm of professional development can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Attending the Midwest Data Librarian Symposium (MDLS) marked my initiation into the world of conferences, and it was an experience that not only broadened my understanding of data services and what data librarians do but also provided a platform to showcase my work as a National Center for Data Services (NCDS) Intern at a conference.

The MDLS conference was hosted by the University of Ohio and Ohio State University in Cincinnati, OH. The tagline of the conference was “An unconference for data and librarians” and was kept small with no more than 50 people in attendance. They hosted a number of workshops and presentations as well as built in time for attendees to gather socially. The conference is held every year in October and changes location every year.

While I have quite a bit of experience presenting my work, I was very nervous about presenting my work in my first conference setting. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a very inviting and casual sense of camaraderie among attendees. I was one of about six attendees that were early career librarians or graduate students attending this conference for the first time. We were warmly welcomed into the community. The conference organizers first did this through assigning newcomers’ mentors (information professionals that have attended past MDLS conferences). The atmosphere was relaxed and took a lot of the pressure off that comes with attending a large conference. Participants exchanged ideas and shared their experiences in the rapidly evolving field of data librarianship.Corey Black presenting in front of a large screen holding a microphone

One of the highlights of my experience was the opportunity to present my work as an NCDS Intern. Having spent 10 weeks learning the ins and outs of data curation, management, and preservation projects, I was eager to share my insights and findings with fellow professionals. Me and my co-presenter chose to focus on our experience with mentorship and through this lens discuss the importance of support for early career information professionals. This was conducted in a round table style discussion. Presenting amidst esteemed colleagues was undoubtedly nerve-wracking, but the supportive environment fostered constructive discussions and invaluable feedback that bolstered my confidence and refined my presentation skills.

Beyond my own presentation, attending sessions and workshops opened my eyes to the multifaceted role of data librarians in supporting research and scholarship. Each session offered new perspectives and practical insights that I could directly apply to my work. Engaging with experts in the field not only expanded my knowledge base but also inspired me to explore the landscape of data librarianship.

Moreover, the symposium served as a platform for networking and forging professional connections. I found myself engaged in enriching conversations with professionals with a wide expanse of experiences who generously shared their wisdom and offered guidance on navigating the complexities of the profession. These interactions not only broadened my professional network but also opened doors to potential collaborations and mentorship opportunities that I look forward to further developing.

Reflecting on my experience at the Midwest Data Librarian Symposium, I am filled with a sense of gratitude for the invaluable learning opportunities and connections that I have gained. The symposium has not only equipped me with new skills and knowledge but has also instilled in me a deep sense of belonging to a community of passionate professionals. Not to mention, I was able to connect in person with a few of my fellow NCDS Interns. Indeed, my journey at MDLS has been transformative, laying a strong foundation for my ongoing professional development.


If you are interested in obtaining funding for professional development, we are currently accepting applications for Year 4. Applications accepted and awarded on a rolling basis until February 16, 2025 at 5:00 pm MT or when the funds are depleted.

Please reach out to your state’s point of contact with any questions you may have.



Contact us at:
Network of the National Library of Medicine/NNLM Region 4
University of Utah
Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library
10 North 1900 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-5890
Phone: 801-587-3650
This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012344 with the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.

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