Research Data,” which appeared in the August 2009 issue of Research Library
Issues.3 The “last mile,” borrowed from telecommunications jargon, refers to
the final stage of a “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.”4 Well before the NSF announcement,
Gabridge proposed data management planning as an area in which liaison
librarians in science and engineering could expand on their already
collaborative efforts, laying the groundwork for depositing data by conferring
with faculty researchers from the moment data is created. “Librarians can put
researchers in touch with standards applicable to their need, create a plan for
managing the lifecycle of data in compliance with their grants, and create
organizing strategies for documentation, files, backups, and more.”5 Resources
like MIT’s Data Planning Checklist6 and digital curation guidelines provided
by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research7 have
been available in the last two to three years and are often the first stops for
both librarians and researchers who are wrangling data plans.
More importantly, inasmuch as the NSF requirement marks a chance for
libraries and campus entities such as research institutes and laboratories to
join forces anew, or cohere substantially around a common challenge, it also
occasions, if not necessitates, opportunities for cross-departmental
collaborations within a library itself. The call from NSF means that librarians
will need to have more than a satisfactory understanding of one another’s
work—for reasons of efficiency, accurate referrals, and identification of gaps
in services and specializations. Implicit in Gabridge’s foregoing appeal is the
depth and range of librarian expertise that cuts across boundaries of practice
and skill sets: subject specialists, metadata librarians, institutional repository
coordinators, data curators, systems/IT librarians, copyright specialists,
collection managers, and acquisition librarians (for advisement on data
sharing and collection policies). The expertise may have to be mined
differently than before, and a new framework, or reorganization of
infrastructure, may have to occur, but many of the essentials for assisting
faculty researchers on data management issues have long been available in
academic libraries. In addition, the cross-specialization making up these
collaborations could be transferrable for the creation of a broader range of
research services. As Dorothea Salo suggests in a posting at the Book of Trogool
blog, “I encourage libraries and IT shops building data-management services
RLI 274
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Joining in the Enterprise of Response in the Wake of the NSF Requirement
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C O N T I N U E D
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FEBRUARY 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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