Collecting Small Data
Karen Hogenboom, Numeric and Spatial Data Librarian,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Tom Teper, Associate Dean of Libraries and Associate University
Librarian for Collections, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Lynn Wiley, Head of Acquisitions,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Introduction
Ipublications
n recent years, our professional literature has devoted many pages to the
need for data services in support of e-science.1 Naturally, most of these
focus on the development of support services that enhance
our ability to meet the needs of scientists and other individuals who collect and
analyze large data sets, or “big data.” For example, ARL’s recent publication
E-Science and Data Support Services: A Study of ARL Member Institutions sought to
document the various approaches that member institutions employ when
providing data-support services for the e-sciences.2 In discussing these needs,
much of the focus—both locally and in the literature—tends to center on
addressing the issues that arise when institutions contemplate providing support
for computational, team, and networked sciences. Yet, as noted in E-Science and
Data Support Services, what we call big data only represents one part of the
significant challenge that research libraries face in meeting changing data needs
in our respective scholarly communities.3 The acquisition and management of
small data present particular challenges that require exploration as our
institutions evolve to meet changing user needs. (“Small” refers both to the size
of the data set and the cost of acquiring and managing the data when compared
to data sets like the human genome or 100 years of weather observations.)
Locally, this growing interest in managing data is part of a broader interest in
exploring new options for acquiring resources that will meet the changing needs
of our faculty and student communities. Positive developments (such as
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SEPTEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC