Collect them all.
Andrew Creamer, MEd, MSLIS, is on a mission to save your data. And publications. And biological specimens. “Brown’s scientists create so many interesting things that I’m trying to capture as much as I can, as soon as I can,” he says. The scientific data management librarian is haunted by the specter of Brown’s Jenks Museum, whose natural history collections were unceremoniously dumped in a landfill in 1945.
Now Creamer wants to ensure that the many terabytes of digital scholarship that Brown’s faculty and students produce, from theses to microscope images to datasets, are preserved and accessible, in perpetuity, in the Brown Digital Repository (BDR). “This is the legacy of Brown,” he says.
Furthermore, data management and sharing is increasingly required by federal funding agencies and scientific journals. Creamer and his colleagues not only help scholars digitize or deposit their objects in the BDR, where they’re accessible to everyone online, they make sure they can be found, with the proper metadata, and are stored in file formats and on physical servers that will survive for future generations to discover. “We want to preserve these objects the same way that we might repair a 100-year-old manuscript,” he says.
He compares the BDR to Brown’s John Hay Library, which houses rare books, University archives, and other physical collections for public use. “It’s not just storing stuff in the attic,” Creamer says. “It’s making it accessible for people who want to use it.”