improved mechanisms for sharing holdings and a better understanding of the
level of use expected of our physical holdings) and negative developments (such
as diminishing numbers of librarians and tighter budgets) have converged and
encouraged critical examinations of long-standing practices. Throw in the
broader expectations of subject specialists for scholarly communications and
user engagement so ably outlined by the University of Minnesota, Duke
University, and others, and one finds a
fertile environment—both locally and
across our profession—for exploring new
roles.4 In this environment, our community
sees a renewed interest in cooperative
collection development models, demand-
driven acquisitions, and consortial
acquisitions, as well as a desire to explore different models for facilitating our
librarians’ engagement with the scholarly communities that they serve.
It is in this environment that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
explored the challenges of acquiring and delivering small data for faculty and
student scholars. The University Library contended that there were
commercially available data resources that were previously ignored in its
acquisitions activities, that acquiring these resources would help prepare library
professionals to serve new roles on campus, and that services associated with
small data represented a new opportunity for our services to reach the scholarly
community that we serve.
A Micro-Funding Opportunity
Looking for an opportunity to meet these objectives, the library’s Office of
Collections proposed and sponsored a pilot program. Seeking to explore some of
the aforementioned challenges that small data offered, the Office of Collections
requested that the library’s Data Services Committee solicit applications from
faculty and graduate students who needed to acquire numeric or spatial data
for their research. As a pilot program, the library targeted awards toward
meeting smaller needs (in the $5,000 range). However, the amount awarded
for individual proposals would depend upon the total number and suitability
of applications received. This program would enable the University Library to
test the waters and better determine the long-term interest in and viability of
programming in this area.
RLI 276
13
Collecting Small Data
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
SEPTEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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.
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