Vol 34 | No 2 | Spring 16
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What Digital Scholarship Services (DSS) Can Offer Faculty

ImageQ&A with Laura Smart,
Head, Digital Scholarship Services

Can you briefly describe UCI Libraries Digital Scholarship Services (DSS)?
It's difficult to briefly describe what we do because our programs cover a lot of areas related to organizing digital content created by UCI researchers. We administer and develop digital repository systems and we coordinate the Libraries' work supporting data curation, digital humanities, digital preservation and scholarly communication. I like to say that, "we put connections into collections."

On the collection end we provide access and preservation for data, documents, images, audio, video etc. whether it's born digital or if we help you digitize it. On the connection end we run consulting services and we develop technologies for new methods and tools for using the collections. It's our goal to inspire new forms of collaboration and new methods for analyzing and visualizing digital content in its many and varied forms. A good example of this is our project to design a visual browsing interface for manipulating images of artists' books.

Is there a team in place to support DSS?
Yes. It really does take a village. We've got two and a half full timers besides me who cover systems administration, collection development/digitization, data modeling, metadata application, project management, outreach/advocacy, and assessment. All of our subject liaisons are also highly involved in our concierge model of consulting services. They provide direct support with researcher identity and reputation management, data management planning, depositing materials into repositories, and project design and requirements specification. In addition, they assist with locating and obtaining digital materials which aren't created here that researchers might need to do their work.

Why is DSS important for UCI Faculty?
One of the most immediate incentives for working with DSS is compliance with funder requirements. Increasingly, grant agencies are requiring that the products of research be made publicly available for re-use. That means traditional publications like journal articles and conference papers are openly licensed, but it also means that data is treated like primary research asset which is curated and preserved. Working with us to get the data and publications into digital repositories decreases the risk that funding gets withheld.

Another incentive is enhanced visibility, re-use and preservation of one's digital work. Researchers put a lot of work into their scholarship and depositing it with us ensures it gets promoted to search engines and the world can find it. We can track how material is cited and used which can be helpful in tenure packages or additional funding applications.

What happens in a DSS consultation?
We start by listening to you describe your project and what you need. We make recommendations of tools and services that match your requirements. We may partner with you to add content to our repositories or deposit it to a discipline-based repository like PubMed. Or, we may make a referral to other services such as campus IT.

To give you a recent example, we've been working with a doctoral student to plan out her dissertation work because it involves obtaining digital transcripts of an audio broadcast and gathering actual crime data in Los Angeles County. She's going to text mine the audio content for geographic references and create interactive maps to compare the reality of crime with how it's portrayed in entertainment. We're helping her get materials and we're consulting on data design and metadata for structuring the information for analysis. When she's finished her work we'll make recommendations on how she can make it searchable and how it can be preserved and re-used over time. Finally, we'll be ensuring her dissertation is made available to the world within the eScholarship repository.

Any final thoughts?
It might seem like what we're doing is radically new work for academic libraries. Yet, there are many parallels with the traditional jobs we do consulting at the reference desk or with collecting tangible materials and organizing them on the shelf so you can find them. Rather than getting content from the outside world and bringing it in, we're working inside-out collecting content from campus and making it available and accessible to all. Librarians have always matched people with the material they need by organizing information for access and retrieval. We still catalog the material with metadata, we still have systems for managing search. Most importantly, we still work closely with individuals to enable their research. Putting connections into collections really sums it up.

For more information, please contact Laura Smart, Head, Digital Scholarship Services at lsmart@uci.edu or x42185.