April 4, 2010.
This paper was prepared as background for a talk given at AGU 2009 on “Data & Libraries.” It summarizes the developments and events from late 2006 through early 2010 that are shaping library roles in scientific data curation while underscoring the range, complexity, and varying granularity of systems, actions, and efforts involved. The main conclusions are: (1) leaders of major research libraries have committed their institutions to support data curation. (2) The library profession has demonstrated significant conceptual progress in characterizing and understanding data curation both in theory and in practice. (3) There has been progress since 2006 in legitimizing library roles in data curation through formal education and certification programs as well as by integrating data curation into established library services and systems. Certain questions remain unresolved: how will data taxonomies or ontology, schemas or data models and their databases fit into data curation practices? Librarians, however, can draw on a growing body of experience and the support of a community of practice as they contribute to data curation, while researchers and those who fund research can turn with growing confidence to libraries and librarians for data curation support.