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E-Science Part 2: Translational Librarianship

Posted by on January 9th, 2012 Posted in: Blog


It seems to me in an attempt to justification and rationalization every and any thing using a business model to define and describe behavior has become the modus operandi for most enterprises, including library management. This exercise serves as an aid for budgeting, accounting, public reporting and has become our raison d’être.

Remember the days when libraries consider it an accomplishment to collect? When a subject specialist was free to direct purchasing in order to build an empire within the structure and confines of their institution and its mission?

Since no one is allowed to exist in a vacuum except seemingly McArthur fellows who are uncovered in deep pockets of individualistic enterprise and intellectual pursuit, everything that anyone does has to be translational.

By that I mean we have to place our work in context, state and publish objectives and strategies, and use a revolving evaluative tool to measure our output and outcome.

Librarians have always dealt with knowledge objects. Now we must deal with knowledge management vaguely named data.

And that is where the e-science issue looms so large.

To summarize the e-science events I have attended in the recent past, especially, the University of California Davis E-Science Day: An opportunity for education and networking (held on December 6, 2011 and funded by the NNLM PSR).  This E Science presenters consisted of Michael Conlon, a biostatistician from academia, Michael Hogarth, Director of Pathology Informatics Core at UC Davis, a bioinformaticist, several health science librarians, a Burn Center Data coordinator and an implementer of REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture)

Conlon covered issues such as:

  • Broad views of the entity known as data
  • What data look like?
  • Data processes and flows
  • Sharing of data repositories
  • Controlled vocabulary required for data sharing and processing
  • The application of the principle of “triples”, subjects, predicates and objects
  • The connective tissue of data.

Hogarth’s presentation via Slide Rocket was a thing of beauty. He introduced resources such as:

If we begin to offer data support services librarians could go full circle and return to what we started out doing, curating, organizing and disseminating. What have changed are the nature of content, the technology useful to get the job done and the size of the voice with which we claim our appropriate role.

The NN/LM New England Region’s Elaine Martin has shown leadership since the CTSA E science symposium that was held in April 2009. Since then they have held E-Science boot camps, workshops, and annual Symposium. The emphasis is on partnership with the science community, creating an e-science knowledge domain for librarians.

The E-Science event in Davis, CA included Elaine Martin and her discussion about their pioneering work with e-science to demonstrate a useful approach for librarians in how to translate theory into local practice. Other regions need to follow the example being set in Massachusetts.

New England Region 2012 planned events:

In 2012 I am sure we will continue to see and hear more about out of control data production and the ongoing need to wrangle with the data being produced and yet to be conceived, including visuals, 3D, maps, RFID with 3-D thermal imaging, etc.

My visual image is a huge reel of film unwinding from its spool onto the viewing booth floor.

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