Diving into the Deluge: Information Management Beyond Libraries

Reviewed by Jennifer Rayner

First of all, full disclosure – this was my very first SALIN event. And I must confess that it did not get off to the most auspicious of starts, being that I was twenty minutes late due to being stuck in traffic (curse you, Adelaide Fringe Festival!). But once I finally arrived and de-flustered myself, I was able to enjoy some very interesting and thought provoking discussion.

The first session, led by Andrew Williams from Australian National Data Services (ANDS) and Gerry Ryder from CSIRO, focused on the capturing and managing of research data. Williams explained how ANDS is utilizing the Registry Interchange Format – Collective Services (RIF-CS), an internationally recognised schema which enables the easy exchange of metadata from one facility to another – the objective being the creation of one cohesive collection of easily accessible research resources – the equivalent almost of a national library. Responsibility for deciding data format, mode of storage, and conditions of access remains with the owner – the aim of this scheme is to simply ‘surface’ the information, to make it discoverable to others. Gerry Ryder then spoke about her role in CSIRO’s data management service, formed last year with a similar objective – to ensure the organisation captures and manages the right research data to support collaboration and scientific integrity. Of particular emphasis in her talk was the need for involvement of IM professionals from the very beginning of the research process, working in collaboration with the researchers themselves to drive the development of tools and procedures. Also discussed were some of the unique challenges faced in such an environment, and the increasing need for skilled professionals who are able to negotiate them effectively.

We then moved on to the second session, lead by Sarah Hayman and Pru Mitchell from Education Network Australia. One of major overriding themes of this discussion was the fundamental shift in the way people are using the internet with the rise of Web 2.0 technologies. No longer passively browsing and viewing information, users are now actively collecting, sharing, managing, and also evaluating internet content, and the value of these user contributions in enriching current collections is most definitely not to be underestimated. It was with this that Hayman and Mitchell introduced myedna, a professional networking service for educators which contains elements of both social networking sites (individual profile pages, the ability to search for colleague profiles) and user based folksonomies (shared resources, bookmarking, tagging). The result is a collective pooling of the knowledge and experience of those in the education field, not only sharing resources but rating and evaluating them, an excellent guiding tool. Of particular benefit will be teachers in particularly small or specialised schools, or those in remote locations, who may not have the benefit of colleagues in the same field to look to for information sharing.

As a new graduate, it was interesting for me to see some of the concepts touched on in my studies, such as metadata and folksonomies, in real world applications. It also showed for me an increase in the scope of a librarian’s role, particularly in the area of research data management. There seems to be a perception from those outside the profession that the rise of the internet will lead to a diminishing of the librarian role, but this seminar proved that this is quite patently not the case. Indeed, in an increasingly digitized environment, there is if anything an even greater need for the guidance of information management professionals. And for a new graduate, there can be nothing more reassuring than that!

ANDS & CSIRO Presentation

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