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E-Science Institute Concludes; Peer Mentoring Group Begins

From Rita Van Duinen, ‎Curriculum and Research Strategist, CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources)

The 2014 E-Science Institute held its in-person capstone event April 2–4 in St. Louis. This was the last offering of the institute by DuraSpace. Staff from 16 institutions, including one international organization, made up the final cohort. Since the E-Science Institute began in 2011, staff members from 113 institutions have taken part for a common purpose: to develop a strategic agenda for e-research support while also developing new working relationships.

During the three-month institute, institutional teams undertook a series of exercises, including an environmental scan, interviews of key stakeholders, and a SWOT analysis. A select team of faculty facilitated this work through a series of webinars and supplemental sessions.

At the capstone event, faculty and institutional teams came together to share experiences and begin developing strategic agendas for e-research support. At the outset, there was much discussion among the teams about a variety of topics related to e-research services at their libraries. Common themes included staffing issues and approaches to re-skilling existing staff, lack of funding to develop e-research services, how to identify and establish relationships with key stakeholders on and off campus, risk assessment of implementing—or not implementing—e-research services, the need to identify the library as a place where these services can and do happen, and how to develop a common language about such services so that stakeholders are engaged.

At the end of the event participants were asked to reflect on their E-Science Institute experience. Staff from one institution said that they felt renewed and that a renaissance was taking place in libraries; five to ten years ago much of the discussion was focused on the library becoming obsolete. Others shared their relief in knowing that they weren’t alone in their struggles and frustration in getting e-research services off the ground at their institutions. It is a big issue to tackle and one that requires ongoing planning and discourse with support and engagement across the campus community. There is a desire to keep the conversation going across the current cohort and with other institutions involved in developing e-research services at their libraries.

And so the conversation continues. Participants will keep up the dialog within the relationships they have formed at the institute. The CLIR/DLF E-Research Peer Network and Mentoring Group (ERPNMG), now being established, will support these efforts. ERPNMG will provide a mix of formal and informal opportunities for networking, resource sharing, and collaboration supported by CLIR/DLF’s organizational resources, as well as access to structured webinars and personalized consultations. CLIR/DLF is working with E-Science Institute faculty and CLIR/DLF postdoctoral fellows in data curation to develop and facilitate the group. Ultimately, ERPNMG will create a network of practitioners through the process of sharing information on implementing strategic agendas.

The first official webinar will take place April 23 from 1:00-2:30 PM EST. A series of webinars and personalized consultations will run from April to October 2014. The course will culminate with an in-person event on October 26, 2014, where peer groups will have the opportunity to report back, connect, network, and collaborate. Participants will be encouraged to continue engagement with the community during the course and maintain regular meetings and contact after the course ends. CLIR/DLF will support the community of practice that emerges as a result of the networking group.

Consider becoming a part of the E-Research Peer Network and Mentoring Group and help us keep the conversation going. For more information please visit