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National Academies sees libraries as leaders in data preservation

Last week, a panel of experts at the National Academies of Science discussed the role of libraries in curation, preservation, and access to research data.

The discussion took place under the auspices of the National Research Council’s Board on Research Data and Information. The Board held its first meeting last year to carry out its mission “to improve the management, policy, and use of digital data and information for science and the broader society”. The Board is sponsored by the Library of Congress along with the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the Defense Technical Information Center.

At the Board’s meeting on June 3-4, members and guests examined issues relating to those subjects. The Board heard presentations from leaders of the Association of Research Libraries and the American Society for Information Science and Technology (which are ALA affiliates) as well as the Coalition for Networked Information (of which ALA is a member). Presenters noted progress toward public access for publicly-funded research, a goal ALA supports.

The Board meeting also included a symposium on The Changing Role of Libraries in Support of Research Data Activities. Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian of Congress, discussed LOC’s efforts on data preservation and access. Betsy Humphreys, Deputy Director of the National Library of Medicine, reviewed NLM’s work on curating and providing access to health data. Joyce Ray, Associate Deputy Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, talked about IMLS’ funding programs to support digital research content in libraries. Karla Strieb, Assistant Executive Director of ARL, discussed the experiences and current situation of ARL member libraries. Michael Goodchild, Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara, talked about the evolution of map libraries and geospatial data. Christine Borgman, Professor of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, discussed training data librarians.

As the volume and complexity of research data grows, it’s clear that libraries and librarians will continue to play a role in managing this information. ALA will continue to monitor the Board’s work and other efforts to shape the future of libraries.

Gavin Baker
Information Technology Policy Analyst

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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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