more likely to approach information technology departments for such help. It is in our institutions’ best interest for librarians to demonstrate in compelling ways the strengths and capabilities libraries can bring to bear on these problems, based on libraries’ long and successful record of providing efficient, long-term, and convenient access to the world’s information. To demonstrate that libraries can provide the right data curation solutions for both research institutions and individual researchers, libraries will need to attack the problem from both ends. First, libraries will need to build data curation systems in collaboration with other university partners and second, libraries will need to create credible and valuable data services using the combined efforts of subject liaisons, other library staff, and drawing upon applications built on the infrastructure. At MIT, the Libraries are tackling the data curation challenge in both of these ways. To tackle the infrastructure challenge, the Libraries’ Technology Research and Development Group is offering the DSpace platform, developed in partnership with Hewlett Packard, as a key resource in an NSF DataNet grant proposal developed in partnership with MIT faculty and the MIT Information Services and Technology organization. Concurrently, starting at the end of 2005, a group of science and engineering liaison librarians, calling themselves the Data Initiatives Group (DIG), formed a study group to learn collaboratively about the needs of researchers and the current state-of-the-art in providing services to manage research data, and to identify the skills required to actively respond to their faculty’s data curation needs. While the idea of librarians supporting the curation of engineering and science research data is relatively new, there is a long tradition of subject liaisons offering a variety of services for social science and GIS data. This tradition offers a good starting model for envisioning how libraries might provide other types of research data curation. At many institutions, social science data services were once provided by faculty, not librarians. Over time, libraries have taken on the responsibility of providing these services to their campuses. Social Science data services librarians play a valued and recognized role, selecting and curating data sets and connecting new researchers to data deposited by others. At MIT, the libraries’ social science data curation role has evolved to encompass loading both purchased and locally produced data sets into repositories. Despite the long tradition of social science data services, however, finding faculty who wish to deposit their own data sets into repositories remains one of the most challenging aspects of social science data librarianship. RLI 265 16 The Last Mile: Liaison Roles in Curating Science and Engineering Research Data ( C O N T I N U E D ) AUGUST 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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