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Libraries tense: future continuous, 20180318

09cc27eb961f75b95d5ce09ae9e78bff?s=47 ANurnberger
March 18, 2018

Libraries tense: future continuous, 20180318

A consideration of research data management infrastructure and the future of libraries. Presented at the Göttingen e-research alliance/CODATA Pre-RDA Symposium, 'The critical role of university RDM infrastructure in transforming data to knowledge'



March 18, 2018


  1. First, I’d like to thank the organisers for creating this

    event and creating a space for these thoughts, such as they are. Second I’d like to thank each of you for diving into this topic of tense, tension, tenseness with me at this hour, and hopefully cushioned somewhat by the offer of food and drink. Wolfram talked before about universities, and I’ll be talking about libraries. Why libraries? Librareis are often the oranisation that pulls other organisations together around these resources. It is a modern interpretation of the Shelby Foote quote about universities being collections of buildings around a library. So, What is libraries’ tense? What makes libraries tense? 1
  2. Will be…. 2

  3. This is an important space, the future, and the projection

    of our future., According to the theories of noted historian Dr. Hayden White, our future determines the stories we tell about our past, our future allows us to create new meanings for what has come before. Just as new methodologies reveal old secrets hidden in our collections. Just the same, our projections of our future inform which of our characteristics we choose to highlight now, where we put our emphasis. So, when we consider our role in university RDM infrastructure that is transforming data to knowledge, what is the story we are telling about ourselves now that supports that future that we see? 3
  4. At MIT, in our Future of the Libraries report, we

    highlighted these aspects of what we would like our future to look like… open global platform rooted in our shared values and mission; supported by innovative approaches to community and relationships, discovery and use, and stewardship and sustainability; and informed and enabled by an expanded emphasis on research and development. This has had a couple of results… 4
  5. This has had a couple of results, It has caused

    excitement, but it has [click] also caused some to feel tense. Part of this 5
  6. This has had a couple of results, It has caused

    excitement, but it has [click] also caused some to feel tense. Some of this is due to that overwhelming question of [x] How 6
  7. This has had a couple of results, It has caused

    excitement, but it has [click] also caused some to feel tense. Some of this is due to that overwhelming question of [x] How 7
  8. And that question of How leads us directly to this

    subject of this symposium, infrastructure and our role as the libraries, in infrastructure. 8
  9. When I think about infrastructure, I like to consider it

    as being made up of three different parts. 9
  10. So, I want to share with you how we are

    thinking about the roles of people, policy and technology within this vision of the future of the libraries, particularly with regard to research data management 10
  11. To my mind, people are the most important part of

    infrastructure. People hold knowledge, people hold culture. It was peter drucker who said that culture eats strategy for breakfast, so no matter what infrastructure you’re building to support which strategy, people will be at the heart of a successful one. 11
  12. In data management services we are focusing on 4 main

    areas, across all levels of the institution Education, a well known two-way street, Outreach & interactions, which includes consultations Research & Sharing and Professional development 12
  13. Education so that we have, things to put on an

    open global platform. Outreach & interactions where we are creating community &relationships, Learning about discovery and reuse, and enabling stewardship and sustainability. Research & sharing so that we can be informed & informing and professional development so that our staff have what they need to successfully innovate. 13
  14. Policy is important, 14

  15. Policy is important, as we can see here, it makes

    a real difference, and no one wants the killbot hellscape that happens when you put people and technology together with poor policy. 15
  16. Policy is, not a favored word, and so we start

    with practices. Not best practices, mind, but the current good practices, there is little that works best for everyone, and it’s likely to change in the future. 16
  17. At the same time, our faculty driven Open Access task

    force is also thinking about data. With so many minds concentrated we are likely to escape the killbot hellscape 17
  18. Technology – it’s not just what to build, but how

    to build it. From the researcher’s perspective, what do they need to know about? What should remain frictionless? [x] From our perspective, what’s in use? Why? Does it support the policies & culture? How does it work with other systems? What should cause friction? 18
  19. Right now, we are engaged in and effort to look

    across the institution and determine what we have, what are the gaps, how can we make it better. This effort engages everyone from the grants office to IT; researchers to the student body. As an example, we, as a library, are focusing on API-first development, and are looking for technology solutions that are, if not future-proof, at least future adaptable. 19
  20. But…if we’re looking to build an open global platform with

    innovative approaches to community and relationships that also means that we can not be doing this on our own, 20
  21. in isolation. That means 21

  22. That means lots of community and collaboration 22

  23. Because, none of this means anything if it is just

    one institution, 23
  24. or even a handful of institutions. I challenge us, no,

    I invite us to 24
  25. stretch our thoughts beyond institutional infrastructure 25

  26. to global infrastructure 26

  27. to interoperable infrastructure. 27

  28. To infrastructure that we build together 28

  29. to transform information to knowledge 29

  30. in a way that is collaborative and inclusive, 30

  31. that benefits the underserved and overlooked. 31

  32. That looks at who we are teaching how to do

    what with which understandings. This is especially important as we engage in more efforts around human and machine intelligence, such as the MIT Intelligence quest – because we need more computer scientists who realize their responsibilities for how their tools are used. 32
  33. Infrastructure that looks at the tools we use and build

    to work with and maintain both the information and the knowledge - is it open, accessible, preservable, responsible, 33
  34. Does our infrastructure consider the policies and standards by which

    we put these pieces together and use them [ethics, standards]. Are we hurting anyone? Are we making sure not to hurt anyone? 34
  35. This isn’t easy, and this is 35

  36. why we need each other, and more than just the

    each other in this room. As my colleague Nancy McGovern recently spoke to at IDCC, we need to have radical collaboration across communities, and to do that 36
  37. consider which communities are absent from the table, whom haven’t

    we brought into that collaboration circle and why. Where are our digital preservationists? Where are our researcher? As we were reminded in the Montreal RDA meeting, where are our first nations and other disregarded populations? 37
  38. We also need to Ask ourselves the question, how do

    we move our institutions to maturity with regard to research data management? A lot of us are here, at level 4, and we'll be hearing much more tomorrow about how different institutions have conceived of their role in institutional infrastructure for RDM. But how do we go beyond that? 38
  39. How do we move to level 5? where we are

    embracing inter-institutional collaboration and dependency in developing the infrastructure that supports the critical role of transforming data to knowledge. There are places like RDA and EOSC that give us the venues, and I know there are other who will be speaking to this in the next few days. As we move towards this maturity 39
  40. We will also be creating new futures, and refiguring the

    stories we tell about ourselves in the now 40
  41. Libraries will be not tense, but ready, aware and alert

    for whatever may come, fulfilling our historical role in transforming information, regardless of type, into knowledge…together. Libraries will be collaboratively and inclusively building our infrastructure to serve our larger community and effectively achieve our projected future. 41
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