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Tadatadatada Data!

Shaping Future INFO-structures, Bielefeld Conference, 24-26 April 2012

I attended this conference with two-and-half days of Library lectures, and adjacent an in-depth international meeting of Library directors.

The conference started with Stefan Gradmann from Humboldt University who asked for a new term for the word Library. Librarians should help scientists and scholars with semantic abstracting (enhancing publications via semantic publishing or semantic annotation). Birte Christensen-Dalsgaard from the Royal Library Copenhagen focused my attention for the third time in two months (first one was the Surf Researcher’s Day, second one was discussion at 25th anniversary of IOS Press) on nanopublications: they can help people speedreading, nice explanation I would say. Her talk complemented Stephan’s, where she also emphasized the importance of the quality of the annotation of the data.

A different topic was introduced by Wolfram Neubauer, ETH Zurich, who talked about an organizational change. He very neatly pointed out the importance of the order of these changes, i.e., 1. Discussion of strategy. 2. Definition of product portfolio. 3. Redefinition of process map. 4. New organisational structure. The first talk of the second day, April 25th, also covered change. Jo Richler, from Ciel Associates, UK, had been involved in an embedded change of Sunderland College Library, where people, systems and environment were all tackled. She hammered on measuring value and worth, the latter is often missing in impact measurement.

Of course open access was the topic of the lecture by Alma Swan, from SPARC Europe, Enabling Open Scholarship, and Key Perspectives UK. It was good to have it said again. Open access adds value for the researcher, the institute, science and society. I have not yet spread the following quote she gave, so here it is (from Daniel Coit Gilman, First President of John Hopkins University): ” It is one of the noblest duties of universities to advance knowledge and to diffuse it, not merely among those who can attend the daily lectures, but far and wide”.

The remainder of the day was on data, data and data. From the Dryad Digital Repository, to Data Management Tool DMPTool, DataONE, EUDAT and our own DataCite. Dividing data into temporary data, referable data and citable data (as parts of the data creation cycle). We saw the same arguments as used with open access articles to support open data, i.e., sharing and publishing your data gives high visibility, easy re-use and verification of datasets, and so increases scientific reputation. Articles with data get better cited. Anne E. Trefethen, CIO Oxford, concluded the afternoon with her talk on Drowning in Data, where she told us that everyday life now has a digital footprint. She used a yin-yang picture where data is both the question and the answer. Big data: it is what you do with it that counts (and what others do with it that you didn’t think of). More on data the next day in e.g. the talks by Klaus Tochtermann who showed us how the path has developed from semantic-enhanced retrieval to semantic document representations to semantics in research data management. Philipp Cimiano (from Bielefeld University) made a plea to get data curators in, where curators need to perform knowledge acquisition and choose the correct vocabulary .

Furthermore the Mendeley Institutional Edition (Swets as host) was a new thing for me, not so strange I understood later at the exhibitor’s booth, it has just been introduced. Mendeley (I also mentioned it in my Birmingham blog) helps researchers work smarter. They now have 160 million documents uploaded by 1,6 million users. Nice feature: the reader meter. MIE both improves productivity of the researchers and gives the library real-time visibility. And finally Heiner Stuckenschmidt (CIO at Mannheim University) told us to get applied research in.

My time at Bielefeld had not ended after the last lecture; we continued for an afternoon and a morning with a smaller meeting consisting of library directors from AGUB (German), VOWB (Flemish), and UKB (Dutch). It was good to get to know some more colleagues, exchanging our views on open access, scholarly publishing models, digital collections, repurposing library space and redeploying library staff. Especially the format chosen on Friday morning, where we sat down in small groups in a so-called World Café, where I also got the chance to see the Bielefeld University and Library.


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