Sloan Digital Sky Survey, data will reach larger numbers of users dispersed across non-traditional audiences—undergraduates, K–12 students, and interested members of the public. This expansion in access will create a parallel expansion in users’ need for help with data navigation across a range of library settings. Somewhat less obvious, perhaps, are the ways that librarians could become middleware agents between systems and systems, and between people and people. Several presenters, including Catherine Blake, Fran Berman, and William Michener, pointed to the need for mediation between different systems, and indicated that librarians will have an opportunity to play a strong role in this area. In order to do so, however, librarians will need the skills to negotiate between different data systems and between different sorts and compilations of data sets. Some key concerns in this area will be interoperability, migration, and emulation—all points at which humans must take action in order for systems to begin to talk with each other, and to remain interoperable over time. Arguably the most important role for librarians as middleware in the e- science context, however, is mediation between people and people. As Sayeed Choudhury pointed out, “human interoperability is more difficult than technical interoperability.” It requires trust, common vocabulary, and negotiation of values. And often—though not always—research librarians are uniquely well positioned to negotiate such issues within and beyond their institutions: they can inspire the trust of a variety of actors, thus enabling them to develop a shared vocabulary and value set. In an increasingly interdisciplinary and collaborative research environment, the capacity for expert mediation will become very important. Indeed, some panelists’ stories suggest that it already has: James Mullins recounted a situation at Purdue in which librarians were able to “bridge the gap” between researchers who did not have a “shared vocabulary.” Medha Devare characterized Cornell Library’s successful leadership role in the VIVO project as a consequence of their reputation as “trusted arbiters of information.” Interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers is increasingly important in the virtual communities formed by networked science, but that does not mean that it will be easy. To the extent that science librarians hold positions of trust within their communities, they will be in a unique position to play mediating and facilitating roles within and between those communities. RLI 262 16 Reinventing Science Librarianship: Themes from the ARL-CNI Forum ( C O N T I N U E D ) FEBRUARY 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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