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Drexel Libraries Continues to Grow Data Services Programs

October 6, 2017

Data are not new to librarians. For decades, librarians have been responding to questions about data. Most academic libraries, including Drexel University Libraries, have been connecting patrons with secondary data created by other researchers as a routine service.

Regardless of the type of data – whether it’s U.S. Census data, materials science data, survey and polling data, or biodiversity data – Drexel librarians are available to assist researchers with everything from locating, accessing and making sense of data to citing data sources. And, as more and more researchers and students need to find and interpret data, the Libraries is expanding its data-related services to fully support the needs of the Drexel community.

Today, all aspects of library service at Drexel – whether it's consultations, instruction, research assistance, cataloging, library application development or archiving – have been touched by the Libraries’ strategic focus on supporting researchers as both data consumers and data creators.

Supporting Data Literacy: Researchers as Data Consumers

Over the last two years, the Drexel Libraries has significantly expanded its role in supporting data fluency as an extension of information literacy, one of the 12 student learning priorities the University strives to embed at the center of every Drexel student's experience. Introduction to databases and data formats, discovery and acquisition of data, data management and organization, data ethics (including citing data) and data visualization are just some of the themes librarians are incorporating into their instruction. 

For example, in 2016, the Libraries introduced the Data Visualization Zone in the W. W Hagerty Library, a space for students to explore and deepen their data literacy skills. Here they can view data visualization projects, map and analyze information using geographic information systems (GIS), or visualize and interact with pre-installed statistical software and data sets or their own research data. The Zone provides a large scale interactive display with gesture interaction capability and an 80-inch flat panel monitor for students or others to use independent of assignments or for class projects.

Supporting the Researcher as Data Creator

To help address the needs of the researcher as a data creator, the Libraries also offers research data management support. For example, librarians help researchers navigate and explore the different options for data management and curation. They also provide guidance on data management plans required for most funded research, and they assist researchers in using the DMPTool that simplifies the process of writing data management plans. The Libraries also assists Drexel researchers in acquiring persistent identifiers for datasets or publications (such as DOIs), provides consultation on how to share data to meet publication and funder requirements, and provides workshops and training on research data management. 

The Drexel University Libraries continues to collaborate with other campus offices to explore the data management landscape, to identify gaps in service and to work towards solutions to improve research data management infrastructure at Drexel University.

For more information on the Libraries’ data management services, visit us online or email