Six organizations (EDI, ESIP, iDigBio, DataCite, Arctic Data Center, DataONE) collaborated at the 2018 ESA Meeting in New Orleans (August 5-9) to offer a Data Help Desk. We co-located to share a booth quad in the Exhibition/Poster Hall. Three sections of the quad were open, with a couch and high top tables that created an inviting space for people to drop in, take some stickers and literature, and ask questions. The other quad section was curtained off with a large monitor for short presentations. Presentations ranged from “Using R to Manage Wildlife Tracking Data” to “How to Use Github.”
Many of the people who approached us at the Data Help Desk were curious to learn what we do. We talked a lot about the importance of data publishing, and how each of our organizations fits into the ecological data landscape. The Data Help Desk was very successful in making the ESA community more aware of the importance of archiving data for reuse by others.
The Data Help Desk has also proven itself valuable from the perspective of community building among data service providers. It was a pleasure for EDI personnel to get to know others in the ecoinformatics realm by working closely together on the Data Help Desk. The ESA conversation about data will expand next year as other organizations, such as NEON, have expressed an interest in joining us as part of a “data neighborhood” at the ESA 2019 meeting.