The Last Mile: Liaison Roles in Curating Science and Engineering Research Data Tracy Gabridge, Co-Head, Engineering and Science Libraries, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) A new generation of cyberinfrastructure programs, including NSF’s DataNet program, is setting high standards for collaboration among all the parts of the research enterprise, including researchers, information technology organizations, and libraries. These new programs envision widespread collaboration as necessary to addressing the urgent and enormous challenge of managing and sharing research data to enable new scientific insights and drive innovation. Studying the research needs of individual researchers and of the institution as a whole is a major component of the work of library subject liaisons. As such, these librarians are well positioned, and will be essential in building the “last mile”1 of research data cyberinfrastructure—the part of the network that will provide connections between the systems and the researchers, and ultimately, to new users of the data. As daunting as the challenge of building infrastructure is the challenge of filling it. What will encourage researchers to deposit their research data for others to see and use for new purposes? To answer this question we may learn from libraries’ experiences in building institutional repositories. Filling the virtual shelves of these brave new digital commons has been a non-trivial challenge. Successfully filling a repository requires careful study of the needs both of the individual researchers, and of the institution, and then finding solutions that provide valued benefits to both sets of stakeholders2. To play a credible role in data curation, librarians must overcome significant challenges. In science and engineering disciplines, faculty do not often see librarians as being equipped to help them solve their data problems: they are RLI 265 15 AUGUST 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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