A data library, data archive, or data repository is a collection of numeric and/or geospatialdata sets for secondary use in research. A data library is normally part of a larger institution established for research data archiving and to serve the data users of that organisation. The data library tends to house local data collections and provides access to them through various means. A data library may also maintain subscriptions to licensed data resources for its users to access. Whether a data library is also considered a data archive may depend on the extent of unique holdings in the collection, whether long-term preservation services are offered, and whether it serves a broader community. Most public data libraries are listed in the Registry of Research Data Repositories.
Importance of data libraries and data librarianship
In August 2001, the published , presenting results from a survey of ARL member institutions involved in collecting and providing services for numeric data resources.
Services offered by data libraries and data librarians
Library service providing support at the institutional level for the use of numerical and other types of datasets in research. Amongst the support activities typically available:
Reference Assistance — locating numeric or geospatial datasets containing measurable variables on a particular topic or group of topics, in response to a user query.
User Instruction — providing hands-on training to groups of users in locating data resources on particular topics, how to download data and read it into spreadsheet, statistical, database, or GIS packages, how to interpret codebooks and other documentation.
Technical Assistance - including easing registration procedures, troubleshooting problems with the dataset, such as errors in the documentation, reformatting data into something a user can work with, and helping with statistical methodology.
Collection Development & Management - acquire, maintain, and manage a collection of data files used for secondary analysis by the localuser community; purchase institutional data subscriptions; act as a site representative to data providers and national data archives for the institution.
Preservation and Data Sharing Services - act on a strategy of preservation of datasets in the collection, such as media refreshment and file format migration; download and keep records on updated versions from a central repository. Also, assist users in preparing original data for secondary use by others; either for deposit in a central or institutional repository, or for less formal ways of sharing data. This may also involve marking up the data into an appropriate XML standard, such as the Data Documentation Initiative, or adding other metadata to facilitate online discovery.
In the social sciences, data libraries are referred to as data archives. Data archives are professional institutions for the acquisition, preparation, preservation, and dissemination of social and behavioral data. Data archives in the social sciences evolved in the 1950s and have been perceived as an international movement:
By 1964 the International Social Science Council had sponsored a second conference on Social Science Data Archives and had a standing Committee on Social Science Data, both of which stimulated the data archives movement. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, most developed countries and some developing countries had organized formal and well-functioning national data archives. In addition, college and university campuses often have `data libraries' that make data available to their faculty, staff, and students; most of these bear minimal archival responsibility, relying for that function on a national institution.
re3data.org is a global registry of research data repository indexing data archives from all disciplines: http://www.re3data.org
CESSDA Members are data archives and other organisations that archive social science data and provide data for secondary use: https://www.cessda.eu/About/Consortium
Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives: http://www.cessda.org/
Finnish Social Science Data Archive : http://www.fsd.uta.fi/
The Danish Data Archives: http://www.sa.dk/content/us/about_us ; specific page : https://web.archive.org/web/20150318230743/http://www.sa.dk/dda/default.htm
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/