Data services at the academic library: a natural history of horses and unicorns

Authors : Jeffrey Oliver, Fernando Rios, Kiriann Carin, Chun Ly


Increases in data-intensive research at colleges and universities is driving demand for data services provided by academic libraries. The current work investigates the distribution of library data services, how such services are offered, and the effect of resourcing on the amount of services offered by a library.


We used a web-based inventory of 25 academic libraries at U.S. Research 1 (R1) Carnegie institutions to assess the state of data services at university libraries. We categorized and quantified services, and tested for an effect of library resourcing on the size of library data service portfolios.


Support for data management and geospatial services was relatively widespread, with increasing support in areas of data analyses and data visualization. There was significant variation among services in the modality in which they were offered (web, consult, instruction) and library resourcing had a significant effect on the number of data services a library offered.


While a core subset of these data services are offered at most academic libraries, more specialized topics are restricted to well-resourced libraries. In light of the influence of resource scarcity on the number of services a library can offer, intra- and inter-campus partnerships will be critical to ensure campus support for data service needs.

URL : Data services at the academic library: a natural history of horses and unicorns


Incorporating Software Curation into Research Data Management Services

Author : Fernando Rios

Many large research universities provide research data management (RDM) support services for researchers. These may include support for data management planning, best practices (e.g., organization, support, and storage), archiving, sharing, and publication.

However, these data-focused services may under-emphasize the importance of the software that is created to analyse said data. This is problematic for several reasons.

First, because software is an integral part of research across all disciplines, it undermines the ability of said research to be understood, verified, and reused by others (and perhaps even the researcher themselves).

Second, it may result in less visibility and credit for those involved in creating the software.

A third reason is related to stewardship: if there is no clear process for how, when, and where the software associated with research can be accessed and who will be responsible for maintaining such access, important details of the research may be lost over time.

This article presents the process by which the RDM services unit of a large research university addressed the lack of emphasis on software and source code in their existing service offerings.

The greatest challenges were related to the need to incorporate software into existing data-oriented service workflows while minimizing additional resources required, and the nascent state of software curation and archiving in a data management context.

The problem was addressed from four directions: building an understanding of software curation and preservation from various viewpoints (e.g., video games, software engineering), building a conceptual model of software preservation to guide service decisions, implementing software-related services, and documenting and evaluating the work to build expertise and establish a standard service level.

URL : Incorporating Software Curation into Research Data Management Services

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