Data in context: Using case studies to generate a common understanding of data in academic libraries
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Citation:Swanson J, Rinehart AK (2016) Data in context: Using case studies to generate a common understanding of data in academic libraries. Journal of Academic Librarianship 42(1): 97–101. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2015.11.005
As new expectations emerge in librarianship, librarians find themselves engaging with researchers throughout the entire research process. This includes during early stages, when research outputs are in their infancy. This shift means that any librarian might be faced with a ‘data question’ and be able to assist without necessarily being a ‘data’ expert. As libraries approach professional development in this field, additional difficulties occur as data cannot be easily understood without context. Instead of attempting to comprehensively cover this broad, nuanced, and sometimes vague topic, the authors took a different approach. In order to place ‘data’ in definable contexts, the authors created local, real-world case studies to introduce this topic to the library. This article describes the professional development event, complete with case studies, their development, discussion questions, and observations. As faculty and staff answered guided questions, they self-identified the value of existing librarian capabilities such as the reference interview, information location, and referral systems. This enabled library faculty and staff from across the library to engage positively and proactively, without any extensive background in this field.
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