You are your own librarian

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Take a look around your office, or better yet, look at your computer desktop.  The files, folders, applications and notes that you have accumulated are just a portion of your online intellectual life.  Think about where you have saved files online---Google Docs, Flickr, Dropbox, Evernote, Endnote, Gmail or one of thousands of other online services that help manage your information workflow.  Consider where you have published formal or informal scholarly works---research articles, proceedings, recordings of presentations; blog posts; books; your graduate thesis.  All of these information sources come together to comprise your personal scholarly library.  More often than not, you serve as your own librarian--gatekeeper, archivist, and organizer of your important scholarly information collections.

As research libraries move forward from an age where large stores of information were kept shelved in a physical building, to one where researchers control their own online information universe, librarians are becoming more invested in helping faculty optimize, organize and archive their personal scholarly information collections. As an Education librarian, I am working with Scott McDonald to develop the Krause Innovation Studio's focus on digital scholarship, centering on the following essential research questions:

What are the research tools that faculty need to maximize their scholarly organization and productivity?

How can the Krause Innovation Studio help faculty optimize, mine and share their personal information collections including published, scholarly works, datasets, research notes, and other materials?

What does it mean to curate your personal scholarly collections, and how can faculty more aggressively document and capture formal and informal scholarly work?

How can the Penn State Libraries best support the needs of researchers, particularly at the individual level, facilitating every stage of a faculty member's scholarly work, from information searching to archiving and socially sharing works with other researchers?

Christine Borgman writes in Scholarship in the Digital Age:

The printed records of scholarship, both data and documents, can survive through benign neglect.  Most are stable enough to be readable or useful for decades or centuries with adequate temperature and moisture controls.  Digital records, however, cannot survive by benign neglect.

Without careful attention to our online personal information collections now, what is readable and easily shared today may be lost to future generations of researchers.  I'm excited to participate in the Krause Innovation Studio's digital scholarship focus, helping develop practices and resources that will heighten faculty's awareness of their disparate, electronic information collections, while making easier their entire scholarly workflow.

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1 Comment

I love the quote from Borgman. It reminds me of an experience recently upgrading from one version of Papers to another and losing a bunch of metadata from my library. Or the difficulty choice of having to commit to one software or another, because once a substantial body of research is organized in one, it's painstaking to switch. While the affordances of this technology allow us to organize and get access to information incredible quickly, they often lack the stability and simplicity of a simple file cabinet.

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