The research environment within which professional humanists and librarians have been accustomed to working is being reshaped by both internal and external pressures. In different ways, scholars’ debates about publishing, tenure and promotion systems, libraries’ straining budgets and physical spaces, and funding agencies’ new mandates require that all these communities engage with basic research on and professional practice of data curation in order to fulfill their missions. In the sciences, the expectation that data supporting published research will be available for review and re-use is becoming more common and any fundamental reform of peer review in the humanities would hopefully encompass a similar position on the relationship between data and publications. Moreover, the acceptance of digital projects as scholarship depends on the data for these projects continuing to remain available. In an era of abundant, networked information, a crucial part of the value proposition of libraries will depend on their ability to steward unique local resources and invent new services to meet the evolving needs of students and research faculty. Funding agencies have begun to mandate data management plans in order to protect their investment of public funds in research but these agencies will need advice from the scholarly community and libraries to refine and fully operationalize these mandates.
For humanists, librarians, and the public, which remains deeply invested in the subjects and materials of the humanities, data curation is not a passing fad or a temporary innovation; data curation is an important part of the solution to many key challenges in the conduct and support of innovative research in the humanities. This talk will explore how humanists, librarians, and members of the wider public might all learn “on the job”, as it were, to participate in the curation of data through changes to core courses in humanists’ professional training, through inflecting numerous existing positions throughout libraries with a new data curation focus, and through open sharing of tools, strategies and best practices in a manner that acknowledges the opportunities for peer-to-peer training.