Guest Blogger: Beyond the Numbers conference

Enjoy a different perspective!

A Guest Blog from Simone Schloss. Simone is completing her final semester at Simmons SLIS and job hunting in NYC. She is currently interning at Tisch’s Lilly Music Library, Tufts University. @SimoneSchloss

What could be better than free data and a free conference all wrapped up into one exciting 2 ½-day package? From October 6-8, 2016, I made my way to the “Gateway City” for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ bi-annual “Beyond the Numbers” Economics and Data Conference for Information Professionals. I was richly rewarded by interesting presentations, engaging colleagues, and delicious meals and outings.

Intended to address the challenges of economic information, the conference brings together experts to share their experiences at the frontier of economic data and information, to discuss problems, challenges, and potential solutions, and to identify ways to improve access to and understanding of economic information. The objective is to provide librarians and other information professionals with the knowledge, competence, and enthusiasm to disseminate economic information expertise to their respective audiences.

The traditional role of librarians in selecting materials and subscription databases is evolving rapidly with the growth of open data. More time is now spent advising users on where to find it, how to organize it, and what to do with it. The conference was a crash course in Federal Reserve acronyms such as FRED (Economic Data), FRASER (Archival System for Economic Research), and CLINT (Categorically Linked Timeline). A university professor summarized the opportunities and pitfalls of data. An agency director described the collaboration between public and private entities in the development and application of Big Data.  Federal Reserve Board staff discussed best practices for replicable and accessible data, surprisingly uncharted territory.

Outside of panel hours, we helped ourselves to generous breakfast, lunch, and snack buffets. Complimentary evening get-togethers were sponsored by BRASS/RUSA and IASSIST. We were even invited on a private tour of the incredible Inside the Economy museum. I made dozens of valuable professional contacts from among the 120 attendees.

Librarians and library students with an interest in the social sciences: mark your calendars for fall 2018 and share in this free treat! Subscribe to the GOVDOC and BUSLIB ListServs so as not to miss a thing. It’s all about the data!

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