Orienting Data Services in the Library: Evolution of a Digital Scholarship Services Department

Orienting Data Services in the Library: Evolution of a Digital Scholarship Services Department

Wasila Dahdul, Madelynn Dickerson, Danielle Kane
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9702-6.ch006
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This chapter describes the evolution of a department in a large academic library dedicated to the provision of research support for data and related digital scholarship services. Topics covered include an overview of organizational changes and priorities in the library, alignment of services to available infrastructure, and approaches to outreach and instruction that have been successful in meeting ever-changing researcher needs. The authors describe staffing and staff training, data repositories and related systems, and common topics covered in consultations and workshops over the past decade with particular focus on development and delivery of a Carpentries-based instruction program. The chapter concludes with reflections on considerations for the future and broad recommendations for the ways libraries can continue to meet emerging data science needs in a research university context.
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The Digital Scholarship Services (DSS) Department at UCI Libraries (University of California, Irvine) has a broad portfolio of responsibilities, including data curation and management, computational research support, scholarly communications, digital humanities, and digital libraries. The DSS department did not start with such a broad range of services. Within the last decade, DSS has evolved from a small unit to a larger, more diverse functional team in response to the growing need to provide research support on campus for computing and data science. The department has invested particular time and effort into developing instruction and research support programs that emphasize practical computational research and data science skills.

Founded in 1965, the University of California, Irvine (UCI) is a large, research-intensive public university with an academic medical center and a law school. It is one of ten campuses that make up the University of California system. UCI has an enrollment of over 37,000 undergraduate and graduate students. A diverse campus, UCI was recognized in 2017-18 as a Hispanic-serving institution, and has also been designated as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution (University of California, Irvine, n.d.).

UCI Libraries has four locations including Langson Library, the Science Library, Grunigen Medical Library, and the Gateway Study Center. The collections include approximately 4 million print and 2 million electronic books, plus hundreds of thousands of journals and additional material types. The Libraries answer approximately 9,000 research and reference questions per year and average over 4,500 physical visits per day (UC Irvine Libraries, n.d.). Librarians and staff in the Digital Scholarship Services department are physically located at the Science Library where they are co-located with librarians from the Reference and Collection Strategies departments.

This chapter describes library data services through a lens of departmental evolution at UCI Libraries. The chapter presents the origins, adaptations, and strategic priorities of the Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services department with a focus on 1) organizational structure and staffing, 2) infrastructure and outreach, and 3) research support and instruction. This chapter highlights changes in campus culture, funding structures, and infrastructure ecosystems that have impacted decision making and approaches to data-related services at UCI, and presents thoughts for future consideration with broad applications for students, academics, and practitioners working in or with academic libraries.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Data Science: An interdisciplinary field that uses scientific methods, processes, algorithms, and systems to extract knowledge from data and to apply that knowledge across a broad range of domains.

Research Data Management: RDM includes processes undertaken to create organized, documented, accessible, and reusable quality research data.

Data Management Plan: A formal document that outlines how data are to be handled both during a research project and after a project is completed.

Carpentries: The Carpentries project comprises the Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, and Library Carpentry communities of Instructors, Trainers, Maintainers, helpers, and supporters who share a mission to teach foundational computational and data science skills to researchers.

ORCID: Provides a personal persistent digital identifier that distinguishes an individual from other researchers with the same name.

Canvas: A web-based learning management system or LMS used by the University of California, Irvine.

Data Curation: The organization and integration of data collected from various sources, involving annotation, publication, and presentation of data such that the value of the data is maintained over time.

Digital Scholarship: Any scholarly activity that makes extensive use of one or more of new digital media technologies, such as new forms of collaboration, new forms of publication, and new methods for visualizing and analyzing data.

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