Professors receive IMLS grant to assess library capacity

Original article

October 26, 2017

Ayoung Yoon, assistant professor in the Department of Library and Information Science in the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, and Devan Donaldson, assistant professor in the Department of Information and Library Science in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering at Indiana University Bloomington, were recently awarded a one-year planning grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Yoon and Donaldson, co-principal investigators, received $49,773 for their project, “Library Capacity Assessment and Development for Big Data Curation.”

Ayoung Yoon
Ayoung Yoon

The goal of the project is to develop a conceptual framework for assessing libraries’ capacity for big data curation. Assessing capacity is a critical tool for planning, monitoring, and evaluating programs prior to defining outcomes or launching curation. From their findings, the team hopes to provide a foundation for developing a toolkit for academic and public libraries. Both types of libraries are increasingly facing challenges regarding big data and are expected to help preserve and provide access to these data.

Yoon has conducted research analyzing academic libraries’ data services and found a huge gap among them in terms of types and levels of services offered. “The aid of a framework and shared practices will be invaluable to these libraries,” Yoon said. She believes librarians need to take a more active role in making big data more useful, visible, and accessible. Building sustainable and scalable data curation programs in libraries will effectively support communities and scholarship that may be overwhelmed by big data.

Devan Donaldson

In order to develop a framework, the team will begin by performing a systematic review of the literature on organizational capacity, data curation, and big data practices; a large-scale, online survey of libraries; and in-person focus groups. Donaldson’s prior experience with focus groups and surveys will help the team understand the perceptions and perspectives of various stakeholders. “Our research will provide academic and public libraries with a reference point when considering whether they are up to the challenge of curating big data,” said Donaldson.

Providing an assessment method is timely because many libraries have recently launched or plan to launch new data programs.

Andrea Copeland, chair of the Department of Library and Information Science, said, “Increasingly, communities look to their libraries for leadership in areas of technology, information, and legal and ethical issues coverage. The research proposed by Yoon and Donaldson will help libraries lead the way once again, this time in data management.”