eScience Librarianship @ Syracuse University

Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) is partnering with Cornell University Library to respond to Category Five of the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, Building Institutional Capacity. The partnership builds upon several prior IMLS-funded programs to 1) recruit students to librarianship with necessary discipline-based education in the sciences, such as the ARL Academy, and 2) research and develop a new curriculum that responds to needs for management of new and different types of digital resources, at amounts previously unimagined, for long-term access and use. The partnership seeks to extend these prior curriculum development programs, the UIUC Graduate School of Library and Information Science’s Data Curation Education Program (DCEP) and the UNC School of Information and Library Science’s Digital Curation Curriculum (DigCCurr) program, that adapted and applied librarianship to technology or data intensive environments.

We propose the reason these prior programs deserve extended effort is that the reality faced by science faculty involves data and technology in synthetic combination—eScience enabled by cyberinfrastructure. Infrastructure changes that alter the scientific production and communication process demand a response from librarians who have historically had the capability to intelligently manage resources for access and use over an appropriate lifecycle, thus freeing scientists to apply their talents more appropriately. The demands of this altered environment has generated a response from people in the appearance of different formulations of positions with some hybrid skillset of technology, science, and librarianship in research institutions such as data curators, cyberinfrastructure facilitators, data archivists, and blended science librarians. A curriculum that acknowledges this new reality and incorporates in a consistent fashion the necessary mix of skills and best practices is the goal of a specialized SU School of Information Studies’ master of science in library and information science to train the ‘eScience Librarian.’

The iSchool is the appropriate institution to lead this partnership, because of the school’s emphasis on use and people’s information needs as the fulcrum when integrating information and information technology into organizations. The eScience librarianship curriculum will need to incorporate some amount of the educational material contained in information systems courses already offered by the iSchool’s highly ranked information management master’s program. The NSF grant to the iSchool to develop a curriculum and train the Cyberinfrastructure Facilitator capable of building information systems that facilitate eScience research capitalizes on that program. There would likely be many synergies that would happen between the eScience Librarianship project and the CI Facilitator project.