7 SPEC Kit 350: Supporting Digital Scholarship
profiles for four positions 14 submitted three profiles each eight defined two positions and five added a
single profile. Only four institutions could not or chose not to provide a staff profile.
By reviewing the position titles, some trends quickly become apparent (Q11). Those who
provided a single profile seem to highlight a staff member who is responsible for coordinating or
supporting a number of projects, sometimes with specific experience in archives or metadata. Those
describing two positions tended to provide one in an upper-level administrative position, with the other
in a more specific functional role. Standing out in the groups of three profiles are GIS and maps, digital
analysts, and a variety of directors, as well as some developers, visualization specialists, and scholarly
communications support. The 42 respondents who submitted four profiles provide a more robust and
varied spectrum of roles and tasks—these range from senior administrators, faculty, subject matter
specialists, and coordinators to unique positions including those working with eScience, maker spaces,
visualization, and repository managers and workers. This breadth of position and function suggests some
well-established cultures of support and engagement among a large number of respondents. The number
of senior positions also indicates that DS support has become a core part of the research process and is no
longer a niche service, suggesting that where such support remains ad hoc it is likely to become part of a
more coherent service or support program in the near future.
The way these positions have been added or expanded and redefined from existing positions
makes it clear that DS has become part of the strategic vision of library services and collaboration (Q12).
Almost half of the positions described (106 or 46%) are new positions, repurposed from others, or newly
defined, some only relatively recently. Many had already existed and use a number of DS-related skills
and tools (87 or 38%), but have evolved with an eye toward provisioning DS. Only a minority of these
profiles were described as being redefined with the addition of DS support to an established posting
(38 or 16%). Respondents’ comments explain that this has been most often due to a shift in emphasis to
better incorporate DS or as part of a program to better integrate electronic resources and DS work into
the core mission of the library—examples include repurposing catalog and reference librarians, adding
responsibilities to liaison librarians, and enhancing digital preservation work.
That this strategic focus on DS is recent is substantiated by the time these staff have been in
the libraries (67% for 5 years or fewer) (Q13) and the length of time they have supported DS activities
(74% for 5 years or fewer) (Q14). Most of these positions have therefore been defined within the past
five years or those filling them have only been recognized as specifically supporting DS in the past few
years. Finally, 94% of these are permanent, full-time positions (217) and only 4% are limited term (10) and
typically grant supported, factors that indicate DS support is now integrated into library staff hierarchies,
roles, and a growing portion of library mission planning.
The department, unit, center, hub, or lab listed as the base for the positions in these profiles (Q16)
indicates that those respondents with the most staff tasked to support DS also tend to host a DS center or
hub, yet this work also falls to distributed support provided by specialized work done in more narrowly
focused units, including scholarly communication, digitization services, metadata services, institutional
repositories, and digital preservation departments. Many of those doing this work are also housed in
specialized units, including map, science, engineering, and social science libraries archives and special
collections multimedia or media libraries and data services and support and even makerspaces. Many of
the primary responsibilities identified in the next question link to such units.
The survey asked respondents to identify the DS tasks that the profiled individuals provide and
specify up to three of those that are their primary task (Q17). The results confirm that many of them
continue to work on traditionally library-based projects, including making digital collections, data
curation and management, digital preservation, and metadata creation. However, a surprisingly large
number provide project planning (30%) and project management (29%), with a majority doing project
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