Data librarian

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Baron C. Things You Can Do as a Library Student to Prepare for a Career as a Data Librarian. hls blog. Feb. 18th, 2015.

  • According to Baron (2015), a data librarian works with “data” (individual records of human, social, or physical life) and “statistics” (summaries of all of all those individual examples). As a data librarian, you might advise researchers how to curate data from their research, run and store statistics for a project, encourage librarians to use infographics to communicate with the public, and help researchers to manage large datasets effectively. Your title might look something like these recently-posted job titles:
  • Data Reference Services Librarian
  • Data Services Librarian
  • Social Science Data Librarian
  • Business and Social Sciences Librarian
  • Science Research Librarian
  • Data and eScience Librarian
  • Science Data Librarian
  • GIS Librarian
  • Research Data Management Librarian
  • Data Curation Librarian
  • Quantitative Data Collections Librarian
  • Librarian for Data Visualization
  • Assessment Librarian

Skills needed to be a data librarian

Start with the people skills, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills that every librarian needs—then add greater technical or scientific knowledge than your peers. You’ll have a competitive advantage if you can show a few of these skills:

  • Teach data or statistical literacy as well as information literacy
  • Reach out to scholars in business, science, social sciences, OR the (digital) humanities
  • Provide “data reference” for people who need help finding data or analyzing in online tooks (like the US Census website)
  • Help fellow librarians to overcome their fears and help patrons find data, just like they help people find books, websites, and multimedia sources
  • Lead ethnographic interviews and analyze qualitative data in NVIVO and Atlas.ti
  • Use Excel, Stata, R, and/or SPSS to produce statistical results
  • Share public data sources (data.gov) and private data sources (ICPSR)
  • Help people find spatial data; if a GIS specialist, help people actually work ERSI, ArcGIS, or other tools
  • Teach seminars for patrons on finding, using, sharing, or visualizing data
  • Learn project management, assessment, or library metrics
  • Be willing to learn data programming languages like Python and R
  • Have a BA/BS or MA/MS in scientific, business, or social science research
  • Can explain data management and archiving to researchers

How do I learn data skills?

First, there are many sources of information on academic websites to learn about data:

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