access model that would work for a library. Some acquisitions went smoothly,
but others bogged down in the data providers’ concerns that charging once for
data to which we would provide broad access would hurt their income stream.
While researchers were able to describe requested data and articulate its value
for their research, issues like the ability to host the data behind a firewall that
requires authentication for members of the campus community, or the different
issues faced in purchasing and licensing
data required further investigation by
members of the Data Services Committee.
While the pilot project provided insight
into the use of small data on campus, the
Data Services Committee does not have
direct relationships with researchers on
campus, who tend to work with their
departmental liaison librarians. Information about the pilot program was pushed
out to liaison librarians for forwarding to their departments, and the Data Services
Committee consulted subject specialists about duplication and overlap among
requested data resources in their fields. Still, it is clear that there are opportunities
for the Data Services Committee’s efforts to benefit subject specialists by bringing
them into discussions about the proposed research and any contributions that the
library can make to the work. Because the applicants were from a wide variety of
departments, the University Library secured a diverse sample of the types of data
local scholars need and the sorts of projects they are working on. We were also
able to spend collections money on specialized data sets with confidence in their
potential use. In many respects, this project represents an effort at expanding the
growing universe of patron-initiated acquisitions.
Even when data was not purchased for a researcher, the conversation about
how the University Library could help with their research was valuable—both
for the scholars and the members of the library’s Data Services Committee. As
previously noted, a couple of applicants requested data already in the library’s
collection. Another applicant requested support for processing data from a local
government agency. Library personnel referred them to a service on campus that
helps researchers prepare data for analysis. Clearly, there is an identified service
need that the library could help fulfill.
From the acquisitions perspective, the critical lessons all focused on
communication. As detailed above, obtaining this type of data requires a
RLI 276
17
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
[I]t is clear that there are opportunities for the
Data Services Committee’s efforts to benefit
subject specialists by bringing them into
discussions about the proposed research and
any contributions that the library can make to
the work.
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