Building a Cyberinfrastructure (Grants Available)

 

Lucille Nowell, Program Director, NSF Office of Cyberinfrastructure, opened a series of four sessions yesterday on the topic of building bridges to the future by creating an the infrastructure necessary to support data preservation and visualization.  You may be able to help.

"Infrastructure," she said, "is that stuff we largely forget . . . It helps us live our lives.  And we don’t think of it unless it’s not there."

Our society’s infrastructure depends on electricity, water, telecommunications grids, and transportation facilities.  A library’s infrastructure depends on catalogs, indexes, OPACS, online resources, computer networks, search engines and email. 

Most libraries clearly already depend on a cyberinfrastructure, but, "With more than 2000 years of experience in content retrieval for texts," she observed, "we don’t know the first thing about searching and retrieving videos."

We are also not so good about preserving data. Citing NSF studies, Nowell said, "almost no one is confident that they can archive data for the 50 to 100 years of its useful lifetime." 

The grand challenges of the 21st century, she said, depend on retaining large data sets,  But we can’t keep everything.  And, she observed, that’s where librarians may come in.

NSF, though it’s DataNet initiative, is looking for answers and is inviting librarians to participate in defining the solutions. No money is specifically available for digitization of collections or building institutional repositories, but if you have some data (anyting in digital form) that could serve as a pilot, there may be an NSF grant in your future.

Short proposals are due Oct. 6.  For more information, go to:  http://www.nsf.gov/oci

Dick Kaser

ITI, VP, Content

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