Data Everywhere

Compute screens, graphs, chartsThe exponential growth of data in our hyper-connected world raises a number of questions, starting with: what do we do with all of it? In response, librarians innovate and collaborate to serve their communities as they endeavor to locate, gather, analyze, and make meaning of information. As champions of both information access and privacy, librarians also build the capacities of communities to understand privacy implications and take measures to protect their own privacy as well as those of subjects whose data they gather.

The Data Privacy Project helps librarians in New York City advocate for and inform library users about safeguarding online security and privacy, and how to recognize the limits of those safeguards. With a team that combines the expertise of librarians, researchers, technology experts and more, The Data Privacy Project explores the intersection of the internet, integrated online library systems, and databases, as well as local, state, and federal policies that impact how information moves through—and is captured from—the digital realm. They offer in-person trainings for New York librarians but have also developed a wealth of online resources that are, in the spirit of librarianship, accessible to all.

Nowhere is the data explosion more evident than in academic research, where librarians constantly calibrate tools and resources that advance inquiry and innovation. To that end, University of Virginia Library offers StatLab, a data analytics service for students, faculty, and staff.  From study design and identifying the best methods for data collection, to cleaning up and interpreting data, StatLab supports research projects across the university through individual and group consultation, as well as instruction in programming, computation, and analytics.

Finally, how can data be presented in a way that researchers and others can best analyze and apply it? Duke University enhances data-driven research with its Data Visualization Services. Student, faculty, and staff researchers can tap into the library’s wealth of existing data collections or gather their own. Library staff assists with the strategies and technology tools that translate the data into visual formats, enabling large quantities of information to be viewed in a more economical space, and making it easier for that information to be shared with and understood by a broader audience.

How does your library innovate to serve patrons in a data-rich environment? Let us know! E-mail: futureoflibraries@ala.org.

Take a deeper dive into this and other trends impacting libraries.

Learn more about today's libraries at the Libraries Transform website.