Databrarianship: The Academic Data Librarian in Theory and Practice
As the currency of science, data are important to preserve. However, since scientific research is producing ever-increasing volumes of data, it is impossible to preserve it all. Even if it were, not every data set ought to be preserved. For this reason, academic libraries need policies with criteria governing which data sets will be preserved and how to appraise them against those criteria. Appraisal and selection policies are commonplace in academic libraries for other materials, but many do not have complementary policies for data sets. If data are to be preserved, then academic libraries must have clear and useful selection and appraisal policies to govern which data sets will be selected for preservation.
This chapter discusses challenges to creating and executing an appraisal and selection policy. Important considerations are whether it should be a sub-section of the library’s overall material collection development policy or a separate policy on its own. Likewise, should it be more similar in scope and form to the library’s traditional collection development policy or more similar to a special collections appraisal and selection policy? Should the policy be comprehensive across the entire lifecycle from ingest to disposition or just cover ingest? This chapter discusses these issues and offer alternatives for libraries to consider.
Furthermore, this chapter introduces and explains the range of selection criteria libraries may consider when developing policies. It discusses each important criteria in depth, such as scientific or historical value, scarcity, relevance to institutional mission, and others. Lastly, it discusses life cycle management of data sets, such as periodic refreshing of files and determining when to deaccession data sets. Readers will find a thorough overview of the issues surrounding appraisal and selection of digital research data and will be equipped with the knowledge and resources to develop such policies in their institutions.
Eaker, C. (2016). Selection and appraisal of digital research datasets. In Kellam, L. & Thompson, K. (Eds.). Databrarianship: The Academic Data Librarian in Theory and Practice. American Library Association.