Data, Science, & Librarians, Oh My!

My thoughts as I navigate the world of data librarianship.

Prove Yourself: Needs Assessment Edition

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What I’ve come to love about the library science field (which after years of waiting tables you’d think I’d hate) is the service aspect to everything we do. Librarians are intensely user-focused in all of our work: through the use of needs assessment surveys, we mold our libraries to what users want, expect, and need. We use the results to design programs, buy technology, even create positions within a library (YA librarian is a thing because of that!). Some common ways to implement a library assessment include  focus groups, interviews, scorecards, comment cards, usage statistics from circulation and reference, and surveys sent to users via email or on paper.

This past week, I attended a workshop with the fabulous Julia Kim at METRO that focused on the implementation and design aspects of surveying, called "Assessment in Focus: Designing and Implementing an Effective User Feedback Survey." The presenter, Nisa Bakkalbasi, the assessment coordinator at Columbia University Libraries/Information Services, was a former statistician and presented on the many ways one could glean statistically valuable quantitative data from simple survey questions.


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Science: The Final Frontier

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Science: the final frontier. These are the voyages of Vicky Steeves. Her nine-month mission: to explore how scientific data can be preserved more efficiently at the American Museum of Natural History, to boldly interview every member of science staff involved in data creation and management, to go into the depths of the Museum where none have gone before.

Hi there. Digital preservation of scientific data is criminally under-addressed nationwide. Scientific research is increasingly digital and data intensive, with repositories and aggregators built everyday to house this data. Some popular aggregators in natural history include the NIH-funded GenBank for DNA sequence data and the NSF funded MorphBank for image data of specimens. These aggregators are places where scientists submit their data for dissemination and act as phenomenal tools for data sharing, however they cannot be relied upon for preservation.


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