As the National Digital Stewardship Resident at the American Museum of Natural History, I was introduced to the very specific problems facing museum librarians and archivists not only through observing the Research Library, but by speaking individually with some of the most intensive data creators at the Museum. As a part of my larger needs assessment project at the Museum, I created a semi-structured interview guide that I used to enter into a targeted dialogue with scientific staff members, covering all aspects of their digital research and collections data. Topics included the volume of their data, its rate of growth, format types, necessary software and hardware support, management practices, and opinions on preservation of their data (i.e. what data they believe is important in the long-term). I interviewed close to 60 staff members in total, including all the curators in the five Science divisions at the Museum: Anthropology, Invertebrate Zoology, Paleontology, Physical Sciences, and Vertebrate Zoology.
Data, Science, & Librarians, Oh My!
My thoughts as I navigate the world of data librarianship.
Well folks, this marks the final post from the 2014-15 NDSR-NY cohort. Before we officially sign off we wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has followed our journeys via this blog, and offer some final thoughts on what the residency has meant to us.
Applications to the 2015-16 National Digital Stewardship Residencies in New York are open! The deadline to apply has been extended by two weeks, to Friday, May 22! Woo! As if you needed more good news than that, METRO also recently announced the host institutions for this round of residencies, and they’re very exciting (like we’d probably compete with you for them if we could!). You can learn all about them and their projects here.
As the the current cohort round the corner and bring their 2014-15 residencies into the home stretch, we’re frequently asked for our advice to prospective Residents, those of you considering applying to the program (most important advice: do it!). We touched on some of these themes in our most recent interview with METRO. Here, in the meantime, are our summary responses to those questions most frequently asked of us live and online:
Originally, I had my presentation scheduled for about 10 minutes but due to time constraints on the agenda, it was shortened to five. This meant I speed-talked my way through all the analyses I had finished the Friday before (April 3) while hoping to impress on everyone there that the risk of data loss is not only imminent, but inevitable. Given the questions and comments I received directly after my presentation and in the week to come, I can say this presentation was a definite success.
For the Residency itself, all I have left to do is my final report--this is a compilation of my previous reports and analyses with recommendations for storage, management, and preservation of the Museum’s vast scientific collections and research data. These previous reports include: a plan for the length of retention for digital assets, an environmental scan to see what other similar institutions are doing for their data, and an overview of what federal agencies fund AMNH research, and whether those agencies require data management plans or not. All these previous reports will come together to form my recommendations as well as provide the Museum with the information it needs to understand and interpret my recommendations.
Hi everyone!! So, like Karl, I was recently asked to write a post on another blog (The Smithsonian Field book Project blog!) and thought, instead of rewriting the whole post and publishing it here, I could just point our lovely readers in the right direction!
The post on the Smithsonian Field book Project blog details the specific interactions I've had at the American Museum of Natural History with field books. The majority of my experience with field books was actually initiated by the curators and scientific staff that I interviewed--they will often talk about how invaluable their field notes and lab notes are to maintaining the long-term viability and usability of their research data, or how older field books are incredibly impactful to their ongoing projects. For those that don't know, field books are essentially notebooks that scientists bring into the field to record their observations and findings. There are a few tidbits in my post about how field books are necessary as primary source documentation for ongoing and current scientific research. Basically--there are really cool old field books at the Museum and they are still relevant to science!