27 June 2012

LIDA 2012: part four

Another keynote presentation started off Thursday morning's session. Herbert Van de Sompel gave a talk on "The Web-Based Scholarly Record: Identification, Persistence, Actionability", discussing the dynamic scholarly record and the growing significance of non-traditional assets such as blogs and wikis in scholarly exchange. A brief survey of recent developments in this field included:
  • PeerJ, an author-pays online publication system for biological science and medicine, including a peer-review journal option - with a one-off lifetime access payment plan;
  • the Utopia PDF reader, which enriches PDF articles and documents by linking to dynamic content and to datasets (and can dynamically create citations from article metadata);
  • myExperiment and Taverna for sharing research workflows;
  • BioCatalogue detailing web services for life sciences;
  • the idea of executable papers initially conceptualised by Elsevier to facilitate data sharing and to enable readers to input their own comparable datasets to test whether results are reproducable.
All these tools challenge fixed ideas of what constitutes the scholarly record - and a fundamental principle of services developed by libraries should be that the web is "the infrastructure for scholarship". This includes social components and machine components, such as the semantic web and linked data. The second part of the paper discussed the challenge posed by the fact that the web "exists in a perpetual now" and describing tools for reconstructing the web-based record as it was a particular time. In particular, the Memento project offers a way to search for versions of webpages from different points in time, drawing on the full range of available "in the wild" web archives from around the world.

Later that morning, my supervisor and I presented our joint paper "Information Resource Development and "Collection" in the Digital Age: Conceptual Frameworks and New Definitions for the Network World". (Trying hard not to be distracted by the view from the conference hall, pictured above.) We discussed the technological changes affecting library collections over the last fifty years, and argued both for the continued value and relevance of the concept and terminology of collection in the digital age, and the opportunities and importance of adopting a networked approach to collection-related issues. There were some really interesting questions afterwards, particularly relating to the place of specialised terminology (such as "digital curation") within our framework. We argue that more specialised terminology can be useful at one level, but seeing these activities as still being part of "collection" development and management is crucial in order to avoid creating multiple silos of information and data, which may potentially dilute the impact of the value a library can add to these kinds of material by treating them as part of a coherent overall collection. Other issues raised included the importance of the process of selection and of some prospect of persistence or permanent access to materials. The morning session concluded with a paper by Luiza Baptista Melo, which included an interesting attempt to calculate a cost-benefit ratio for accessing electronic information resources in Portuguese academic libraries.

In the afternoon, three papers by Mats Dahlstrom, Isto Huvila, and Jela Steinerova explored different aspects of digitisation and digital scholarship. I found the third of these presentations especially interesting, particularly its suggestion of "information ecology" as an emerging framework for digital scholarship, stressing the importance of collaboration and complex relationships. This included a study of relationships between repositories in Slovakia, with many universities apparently having multiple collections of electronic documents, something which sounded to me a bit like the multiple subject or department-specific libraries in some UK universities.

Liz Lyon gave the afternoon keynote presentation on the topic "Incremental Change or revolution?: Libraries and the Informatics Transform". This coincided with the publication of the Royal Society's final report on Science as an Open Enterprise (another must-read text). The presentation gave some idea of the scale of the skills gap in libraries for dealing with data - particularly big data ("the next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity"). A study by Mary Auckland for Research Libraries UK - Re-skilling for Research suggested that as few as 2% of faculty librarians have an understanding of core issues relating to research data, such as metadata requirements, and discipline standards and practices. The paper drew on the author's article 'The Informatics Transform: Re-engineering Libraries for the Data Decade' (International Journal of Digital Curation, volume 7, issue 1, pp.126-138) analysing the potential roles of 7 key groups of library staff (such as service directors, data librarians and IT staff) in developing library approaches to managing research data. A particularly interesting idea was that information professionals involved in managing data and making it useable should be formally recognised (for example, in publications). The afternoon sessions finished with another panel session, discussing some of the issues raised - "the digital future is now!".

No comments:

Post a Comment