The Application Process
The University Library publicized the program on its website, via announcements
to subject specialists, and through a weekly e-mail digest distributed to all
faculty and staff on campus. Applicants described the goals of their research
project, the importance of the requested data to their research, and the
uniqueness or unique functionality of the requested data compared to other
sources of the same data. Emphasizing the desirability of Internet-accessible
data and data available without restrictions that prohibited delivery to the
entire campus, the call for proposals also indicated a strong preference for
applications that proposed partnerships between librarians and researchers.
Although we did not expect many to take up this partnership offer, there was
some hope that opportunities would arise for subject specialists to be included
in, or otherwise engaged by, research teams.
Some of the inquiries during the application period were questions about
the availability of data, and, in two cases, members of the Data Services
Committee were able to point researchers to resources that the University
Library already owned or to which it already subscribed. Other inquiries were
out of scope, related to linguistic data, copies of tangible documents, or
requests to cover processing fees for publically available data sets. The Data
Services Committee referred these inquiries to appropriate subject specialists in
the library. One research team proposed a project where the University Library
would purchase address data, which they, in turn, proposed to map. Although
this data could not be licensed by the library, the research team would then
work with the University Library to give the georeferenced data back to the
vendor in exchange for wider access to the original data.
In the end, nine researchers applied, and the library supported six
applications. Applications came from researchers in geography, business,
political science, agriculture, and psychology. One approved application was
for a single year’s subscription with the understanding that the library would
not necessarily renew the subscription, but the rest were for discrete
acquisitions.
Implications for Acquisitions
The acquisitions process brought its own issues and complications. Variations
in local procurement processes and how vendors sell the actual data all affected
the potential for successfully fulfilling the request. The necessary components
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Collecting Small Data
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SEPTEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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