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University of Michigan School of Information


UMSI doctoral student finalist for Best Poster Award at iConference 2022

Headshots of Alexandria Rayburn and Andrea Thomer. "iConference 2022, Best Poster Award Finalists, 'The Craft of Database Curation: Taking Cues from Quiltmaking,' UMSI logo."

Tuesday, 02/15/2022

University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) doctoral student Alexandria Rayburn and Assistant Professor Andrea Thomer are finalists for the Best Poster Award at the annual iConference, an international gathering of information scholars. 

Their poster, “The Craft of Database Curation: Taking Cues from Quiltmaking,” showcases the craft that is involved in digital stewardship. Rayburn and Thomer take a new approach, looking at data curation work through the lens of quiltmaking. 

“The broad question guiding the project is what are the practices that people use to maintain infrastructures for longer than they were originally meant to be maintained?” says Thomer, adding that they were particularly interested in the creative practices people use in their work. 

Using multiple case studies on data migration, the researchers uncovered similarities between curators and quilters, including the practice of piecing multiple systems together to create a cohesive whole, relying on community collaboration, and inter-generational labor. “We hope to show that the role of craft practices extends to work with technology,” says Thomer.

Rayburn notes that data migration work is costly, time intensive, and needs to be completed often. “It can feel like a really overwhelming task, especially to folks who don’t have a technical background,” she says, adding that it could be helpful to think about this work in more relatable ways. 

“I’ve found that other representations of this work don’t always resonate with me, and I think if we want to make this work more accessible to a wider audience we need to think of better metaphors,” says Rayburn. They hope this work will provide a broader understanding of what a successful data migration can look like for memory institutions.


This year’s iConference will be virtual, from February 28- March 4. The theme of this year’s conference is “Information for a Better World: Shaping the Global Future.”

UMSI and University of Michigan faculty and students are represented throughout this year’s iConference, at poster sessions and paper presentations. In the list below, UMSI faculty and students are listed in bold; other University of Michigan-affiliated presenters are italicized.


“The Craft of Database Curation: Taking Cues from Quiltmaking:

Alexandria J. Rayburn, Andrea K. Thomer


Full Paper:

“Sentiment and Network Analysis of Twitter Reactions to the U.S. Birthright Citizenship Ban Debate"

Adam Worrall, University of Alberta; Ana Ndumu, University of Maryland; Lynette Hammond Gerido, U-M School of Public Health


Early Career Colloquium:

“Early Career Colloquium Application: Sara Lafia”

Sara Lafia, U-M Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, Institute for Social Research