Ontario University Libraries Launch New Data Service

By robin | June 15, 2007

The following press release was posted to the IASSIST listserv by Bo Wandschneider on 11 June: Ottawa: June 11, 2007 The Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) is pleased to announce the launch of the Ontario Data Documentation, Extraction Service and Infrastructure Initiative (ODESI), which will provide university researchers with unprecedented access to a significant number of datasets in a web-based data extraction system that will be delivered through the highly successful Scholars’ Portal model.

This infrastructure will be built on an international metadata standard and will provide faculty and students with the tools for finding, extracting and analyzing data from a variety of sources, including Statistics Canada, polling data, as well as other national and international data sources.

*ODESI *is jointly funded by the OCUL community and OntarioBuys. Total project funding is $1.04 million over three years, with OntarioBuys contributing $750,000.

Carleton University will be leading this project in close partnership with the University of Guelph. “This will do for data, what Scholars’ Portal did for electronic journals”, said Mike Ridley, Chief Information Officer and Chief Librarian, University of Guelph. Margaret Haines, Carleton University’s Chief Librarian, believes “approaching the creation of metadata in a collaborative way, based on international standards, demonstrates a responsible, effective and efficient use of resources”.

In test cases, first year students found an ODESI prototype “fun to use” and were able to analyze data during a three-hour workshop*.* This task would have taken several weeks to accomplish using traditional tools and methods and would not likely have been undertaken by first year students.

The service will expose undergraduates to the research enterprise at an early stage in their careers and is important in developing numeracy skills. Researchers working with opinion polls will be able search across hundreds of datasets and collections to see trends and historical patterns over time. To date such comparative analysis has been lacking due to the enormous amount of time and labour needed to search and locate data manually.**

ODESI will be housed at Scholars’ Portal, located at the University of Toronto, and will support its goal of providing access for networked scholars to a set of tools to aid both teaching and research. The ODESI project brings data, an extremely important research resource, to the desktops of scholars and students.

Bo Wandschneider, Associate Director of Computing and Communications at the University of Guelph and interim project manager, says: “We are absolutely thrilled to get this funding. It will be an exciting time in Canada as this project leverages nicely with other national and international initiatives.” For more information, contact Bo Wandschneider (bo@uoguelph.ca)