The Loon got an email the other day about LabArchives and BioMed Central’s new collaboration around datasets considered supplementary to a journal article.
(When, the Loon wonders, will the poles of the “supplementary” relationship reverse? It might be less time than she might guess…)
The emailer, a librarian, was discontented. She didn’t like the idea of these data in the hands of a commercial entity.
The Loon took a little swim before answering that email, because her first instinct was to squawk well, libraries apparently can’t be arsed to collect data systematically, so where are the data supposed to go, pray?
This response is, of course, partly unfair; the Loon apologizes to Cornell and Harvard and Purdue and Stanford and the other places taking serious stabs at this problem. Mostly, though, it’s not unfair. Most libraries—most research libraries—most ARL libraries—aren’t touching data-archiving problems with a ten-foot pole. The Loon doesn’t think we libraries are entitled to critique a market approach to data archiving until we’re willing to offer an alternative.
Anyway, the trajectory of public-facing, public-spirited services in libraries suggests that LabArchives (and its ilk, among which the Loon would include DataDryad) could well be more economically viable (the Loon hates the word “sustainable”) than library-based services. Not even Cornell was public-spirited enough to singlehandedly run arXiv forever… and most ARLs aren’t anywhere near as public-spirited as Cornell.
Somebody’s got to do this work. If libraries and librarians won’t step up, the work will get done without us… and we’ll have fumbled yet another chance to expand the boundaries of our professions. As Sondheim wrote, “Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.”
- Big Data and the US government
- Discovery layers and metadata