Dear SFU Staff,
I have read with interest several recent job advertisements at Drexel in the area of digital curation.
At Griffith University (Australia) we are currently beginning the process of bringing together cataloguing staff (library) and eResearch specialists (some of whom work with specialised metadata) into one team (Resource Description).
I wondered whether you would be willing to share any information (non-confidential documents) on the evolution of your service.Challenges? Successes? In addition I would be interested in any thoughts you may have given to integrating metadata with cataloguing, assuming that has not already been implemented.
Or perhaps suggest a member of your staff with whom I could liaise on this very challenging topic.
There are two activities currently underway at SFU Library that have some relevance to your query. At the same time they also indicate we’re still at a very early stage in these areas.
I’ve attached a copy of a job posting for a Data Curation and Digitial Preservation specialist that we just issued last week. The new posting has an interesting range of assignments including an university funded Research Data Project, Research Data Curation and Management, Digital Preservation, and Research Data Services. We posted this position in response to an unsuccessful attempt to hire a very experienced data curation specialist. As it turns out, there are many postings from North American academic sites for similar positions and a very small pool of experienced candidates available. We revised the position to make it a more junior one with the intent of working closely with a more experienced consultant (still need to find this person) and an internal project management team that will be more directly involved and also provide mentoring support.
As part of a larger library re-organization, Special Collections was recently added to my portfolio which already includes Library Systems (our digitization centre is part of this division), Cataloguing, and Maps/Data/GIS. One of the reasons for this realignment was the realization that many of our digitization projects have a close association with Special Collections and Cataloguing. Our goal is to look at a closer alignment across all of these areas and address the processing and support requirements associated with descriptive information — whether one calls it cataloguing or creating metadata. Our current practice has been to hire somebody as part of a specific project to create the metadata usually within the context of basic Dublin Core. On several larger projects we have involved either cataloguing librarians or archivists when we want to create descriptive information that is more than just Dublin Core but not necessarily fully conventional cataloguing. As many of these projects often rely on grant funding they don’t always sit nicely within the traditional cataloguing environment or workflows. Collective agreements also throw a few interesting wrinkles our way.
Bottom line, we’re still experimenting with possible approaches for metadata. I’ve just hired a recent graduate from a library technician program to create metadata for a number of digitization projects during the next 8 months. At least one of the projects will involve some consultation/review with our Head of Cataloguing, but most of the work will occur independently of the Cataloguing Dept. It will also take place remotely, as the person is engaged as an independent contractor, not as a regular employee. The contractor has worked on several previous projects for us, but more from a digitization/systems perspective than a cataloguing one. It is an opportunity for us to try something that will be less costly (hopefully) and not as focused on traditional cataloguing approaches or typical staff resources. It may then inform how we move forward with the integration and alignment of the various areas — Systems/Digitization Centre, Special Collections, and Cataloguing.
I’m not sure if any of this is helpful, as I suspect we’re not any further ahead in these areas than you might be. If you wanted to follow-up with a Skype call, or just keep in touch, I’d be happy to do so.
G.W. Brian Owen
Associate University Librarian
Library Technology Services & Special Collections