The University of Arizona Libraries has close to 200 employees across 10 departments. Since 2011 we’ve provided research data management (RDM) services through the department now known as the Office of Digital Innovation and Stewardship, initially focusing around support for complying with various funder policies. In late 2017, the number of RDM staff increased from one to two, enabling increased support for campus-level needs such as instruction, increased engagement with campus stakeholders on RDM issues (e.g., with university IT), expanded consulting support (including supporting the Open Science Framework), special events such as GIS Day 2018, Love Data Week 2019, and supporting grassroots groups such as Research Bazaar Arizona through organizing the yearly conference held on campus. Supporting funder and publisher data management and sharing policies through RDM services isn’t the only data-related thing the UA Libraries is doing.
Data science is an important growth area for the University and the Libraries are addressing a few areas of support. These include computational literacy (e.g., through R training and regular Software/Data Carpentry workshops), geographic information systems, and reproducible research. For more details on how we’re supporting data science, see Oliver et al. (2019) – open access link is available in our campus repository. Another area which some of us are actively exploring is what software preservation could look like in the various communities of practice across campus. To that end, we are working with the Learning Games Initiative Research Archive – one of the largest research archives of computer games and paratexts in the world – to determine how cloud-based emulation of gaming platforms may play a role in this circulating archive.
Much like the excitement at the libraries and around campus regarding the “snowstorm” this past February, there is much anticipation around a project already underway which will drastically change the face of the libraries on campus. We are currently undergoing a renovation as part of a major construction project that will link two of the campus libraries in a zone that spans multiple existing and to-be-constructed buildings, integrating library spaces and services with student affairs spaces and services which will allow patrons to move seamlessly between spaces. The concept is called the Student Success District (SSD) and it will bring new collaborative learning spaces, a state-of-the-art makerspace, an AR/VR lab, and a data studio with visualization wall among many other things. The SSD will not only be useful for undergraduate students. It is envisioned that some RDM and other user-facing library services will be accessible in these new dedicated spaces, thereby improving the way many services, including RDM services, are delivered.
Finally, it would be impossible to do all the data-related things we do without all of our great colleagues within the Libraries. Make sure to get to know some of the stories behind the people that keep the lights on and ensure that the library is always buzzing with activity. From authors to former fire eaters, we have it all. So, by sharing a bit about who we are and what data stuff we do, we hope to give the RDAP community a small glimpse of what excites and motivates us to grow and be the best library we can be.
Fernando Rios, Research Data Management Specialist