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How the Marriott Library supports data digitization

Read more about the Patagonia right whale project here

A 2013 White House Office of Science and Technology Policy memo instructed federal granting agencies to develop procedures for researchers to be able to share their electronic research outputs. However, researchers who have been working for decades have multiple file cabinets and fireproof cabinets of legacy data in print and not accessible to the research community or the public. In the biodiversity and ecosystem fields, historical information plays a predominant role and the study requires the analysis of trends, adaptations, and long-term relationships. 

With initial seed funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research and subsequent funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources, Marriott Library IT staff was able to digitize the Patagonia right whale collection that includes over 78,000 slides, 12,800 negatives, maps, and field notes.

Matt Brunsvik, head of Digital Operations and project manager for this project, said “Through this project, Marriott Library is able to refine best practices for converting legacy research data into electronic format for the purpose of sharing the data with other researchers and the public.” 

Harish Maringanti, associate dean for IT & Digital Library Services, and co-principle investigator on this project, said, “The Library has expertise in digitization, data management, preservation, and the development of platforms to share data with scientific communities. Researchers at the University of Utah have been seeking assistance from the Marriott Library on how to share their datasets, both contemporary and legacy datasets. By collaborating with Rowntree and her team on this project, the library is able to advance the development of data management policies in research libraries while also impacting the future of Patagonia right whale study research.”