Digital change and the rapid developments in the information sector and the area of research data management are creating new challenges and fields of activity. Continuous increase in the amount and complexity of data can be observed - specifically in scientific research fields, research communities as well as research support services at universities and university libraries. Accordingly, there is a clear need for further education and training.
In order to meet the new requirements, Data Librarians are in demand, who specialize in resolving and handling the aforementioned challenges.
In response to these developments, the University of Vienna, in cooperation with the University of Graz and the University of Innsbruck, initiated a certificate course titled "Data Librarian" (8-10 ECTS). The goal is to offer it regularly as a training programme in the future either in the form of a certificate course and/or within the inter-university study programme "Library and Information Studies" (LIS) - aiming for once a year, depending on the demand and number of registrations.
From Nov. 2018 to April 2019, the first certificate course was successfully conducted at the University of Vienna (find here the link to the experience report, in German, from the students', teacher's and organizer's point of view).
In May 2020, the course was conducted as an elective module within the inter-university study programme "LIS". Within this study programme, students are supposed to choose from a pool of elective modules.
The "Data Librarian" module was one of them, with 8 days of online sessions and compulsory attendance. It was also possible for people outside of the "LIS" course to register and participate. The module was conducted in German and entailed the same three main thematic blocks as the certificate course – which were titled "Open Science support", "Data-based knowledge production and organization" as well as "Systems architectures and workflow management".
Due to Covid-19 measures, this year's course was held entirely online via e-learning – mostly using the open-source application "BigBlueButton" and pre-recorded "screencasts". Additionally, almost all lectures were recorded and made available for later use. In total, 25 participants attended the elective module in May 2020.
The second thematic block "Data-based knowledge production and organization" started with lectures on "Data modelling and data architecture, data selection, data cleansing", followed by lectures addressing "Metadata Repositories and Repository Management". The second thematic block was concluded with sessions dealing with "Data analysis, data aggregation and data linking". The lectures put a strong emphasis on practical exercises, metadata standards like MODS and Dublin Core, FAIR principles and the technical aspects of it all. Data wrangling was discussed as well as the open source tool "OpenRefine", also including tutorials and exercises on XML, TEI, SPARQL and metadata mapping.
Here, the learning objective for the participants was to get accustomed to various methods for indexing and describing of research data. Moreover, to learn to outline strategies for the retrieval and reuse of data.
The third thematic block "Systems architectures and workflow management" consisted of lectures revolving around the "Digital workflow model, archiving and technical deletability", the "Life Cycle Management of Digital Objects" as well as knowing relevant technical interfaces and understanding the principles of data conversion. The presenters talked about "Financing models, cost estimation and resource expenditure". Here the participants learned to create cost plans and financing models for the permanent storage of research data. The module ended with a lecture on methods for "Long-term archiving and data storage".
To complete the module, the participants were given assignments to perform certain practical exercises throughout the module but were also tasked to explore some of the topics afterwards on their own and hand in a paper.
Overall, the 2020 "Data Librarian" elective module was well received by the participants. An informal request for feedback showed that the majority of the VUL participants favour the practical input and exercises of the second lecture block the most - since there were "hands-on" classes and several exercises in which i.e. they could try out writing code or learn how to use different applications.
The overall feedback made it clear that it was a well-structured module, through which they were able to learn very useful information and new skills as well as gaining important insights in the theoretical and practical workings of a data librarian.
So far, a next fixed "Data Librarian" university/certificate course will be offered (online) at the University of Innsbruck from December 2020 to January 2021, amounting to 8 ECTS. Concurrently, it will be open for "LIS" participants from Vienna and Graz as an elective module as well.
Find information about the University of Innsbruck 2020/21 "Data Librarian" university/certificate course (in German) here:
https://www.uibk.ac.at/weiterbildung/images_neu/folder/a5-folder-kurs-data-librarian-03.pdf or: https://www.uibk.ac.at/weiterbildung/universitaetskurse/data-librarian/
For more information on the certificate course "Data Librarian" at the University of Vienna, see: https://www.postgraduatecenter.at/en/programs/communication-media/data-librarian/
To know more about the inter-university study programme "Library and Information Studies" (LIS), follow this link (available in English and German): https://www.postgraduatecenter.at/en/programs/communication-media/library-and-information-studies/
Image credit: © Bwag/CC-BY-SA-4.0. (found on Wikimedia)