Data Curation as Publishing for the Digital Humanities (Journal of Digital Humanities)

The article linked above is an expansion of a talk given by Trevor Muñoz at the CIC Center for Library Initiatives Annual Conference last May. The theme of the conference was publishing, and in his talk Trevor argued for data curation as a form of publishing that draws on traditional librarian skill sets and aligns with library missions. The talk itself was thought-provoking, and I would recommend the Journal of Digital Humanities article to anyone looking to practice, or support, or understand data curation and/or publishing in libraries. The article takes the original argument a step further, however, in challenging librarians to transform all of our work to better utilize our unique skill sets and align with our mission as a profession. It comes in the context of advocating for the use of collection budgets to support curation/publishing activities. My favorite part:

The current situation in which libraries purchase subscriptions to large databases of, for example, journal articles, represents not only an unsustainable economic situation but also an unsustainable professional one in which libraries outsource the expertise and experience of collecting, normalizing, organizing, and making available scholarly information. Librarians should spend more time on creating metadata, building catalogs, developing and refining indexes, and building, organizing, and maintaining collections than on negotiating publisher contracts or teaching the details of interfaces created by vendors. Extending library, archive, and information science practices for data may include aggregating data sets, cleaning and normalizing values, and annotating data with controlled vocabularies and ontologies. The issues of description, organization, and access for data are still largely unsolved and libraries should demonstrate their expertise in solving these challenges through developing and sustaining data curation-as-publishing programs.

Read the full article.