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The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > News Archive > Library Perspectives on Scientific Data Stewardship

June 23, 2010 --What role should libraries play in the long-term preservation, management and provision of scientific data?  As both data volume and use climb, a growing number of researchers, administrators and librarians are pondering this question.

A recent National Research Council Board of Research Data and Information symposium shared some perspectives on the topic. The Changing Role of Libraries in Support of Research Data Activities (external link) featured presentations from senior managers at four major library organizations.

Deanna Marcum, associate librarian of Library Services at the Library of Congress, presented an overview of the scientific collections at the Library, along with thoughts on the future direction of the Library's growing digital collections.  Marcum described the recent progress of the eScience team at the Library of Congress, which is developing a new strategy for working with scientific data.

Deanna Marcum speaking at the symposium. Credit: Sally Whiting

Deanna Marcum speaking at the symposium. Credit: Sally Whiting

"I like to think that the members of Congress have the most accurate, up-to-date information," remarked Marcum, as she acknowledged that the current system of processing incoming scientific data does not result in a system that is as easy for researchers to use as it could be. She continued, "We need to move from a reading room concept to research centers."

Marcum also described the efforts of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program to develop a more robust infrastructure that would better support a digital collection and promote its integration within the Library. "I don’t want an artifactual library and a digital library," said Marcum.

Betsy Humphreys from the National Library of Medicine, Joyce Ray from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and Karla Strieb from the Association of Research Libraries also talked about how their organizations are approaching the issue of data stewardship.

A common theme in all presentations focused on the explosion of data in recent years along with limited resources for managing the data. The speakers agreed that research libraries are actively addressing the challenges associated with archiving, preserving and providing access to scientific data.