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Conference Presentations 2005

  • IASSIST 2005-Evidence and Enlightenment, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Host Institution: EDINA National Data Cente and Edinburgh University Data Library

E2: Tools for Preservation: Integration and Assessment (Thu, 2005-05-26)
Chair:Paneth-Peleg, Michal

  • An assessment of Virtual Data Center as a tool for dissemination and digital preservation of social science data
    Harrison Dekker (University of California, Berkeley, Doe/Moffit Libraries)


    The past year has been marked by a considerable amount of development on the open source Harvard/MIT Virtual Data Center software project. In this presentation, I hope to examine VDC in an unbiased fashion, explain what it can do and where the project is headed. Particular emphasis will be placed upon digital preservation theory and practice and the role VDC might play in this regard

E3: Enlightening Access Control: New Methods (Thu, 2005-05-26)
Chair:Alvheim, Atle

  • Issues in federated identity management
    Sandy Shaw (EDINA, University of Edinburgh)


    Interest in federated identity management schemes has grown considerably in recent years, with developments such as Liberty Alliance, Shibboleth, and WS-Security. The common goal of these schemes is to enable organisations to rely on digital credentials issued by partner organisations even if partners deploy different authentication technologies (such as passwords or digital certificates). When a user requests access to a protected resource, the user is redirected to their home institution where an authentication exchange takes place. If successful, the user is redirected back to the resource along with a set of security assertions signed by the home institution.

    Within the UK, the focus of interest is the Shibboleth model, developed by the Internet2 Middleware Architecture Committee for Education (MACE). A strategic decision has been made to adopt Shibboleth as the preferred solution for identity management for services in the JISC Information Environment, and for use in other contexts, including e-Science. The immediate issues are the development of trust relationships within and between federations, and to assure interoperability and widespread deployment.

  • Shibbolising UK Census and ESDS services
    Lucy Bell (UK Data Archive, University of Essex)


    This paper describes the investigation into an alternative and flexible access management system, based on Shibboleth, for three social science data resources. The UK Data Archive (UKDA) is the central registration hub within a dispersed network of eight, UK-based, digital data resource targets. As such, it requires target-to-target communication in order to apply the user’s registration credentials to each resource, thus removing the need for the user to register with each separately or to agree more than once to any special data-related conditions.

    This paper will describe the preliminary work being undertaken, via the ‘shibbolisation’ of three resources, to place this registration system within a federated model of access control. It will also describe the target-to-target communication required and the suggested Shibboleth-enhanced registration model which could be rolled out to all eight resources. It will identify initial issues discovered by the team and compare the proposed model with other access management schemes.

  • The Research Data Centre Program: A fundamental element of the social research infrastructure in Canada
    Gustave Goldmann (Statistics Canada)


    Informed decision making on social issues requires current, comprehensive and very well-targeted research. Societies face two primary challenges in order to respond to this need for timely information – access to relevant data and a corps of qualified researchers to conduct the analyses. As part of a response to the challenges that confront Canadian policy research, a network of Research Data Centres was formally launched in December 2000 with the opening of the centre at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. There are currently 13 Research Data Centres located throughout the country, so researchers are not obliged to travel to Ottawa to access Statistics Canada data. At the same time, the centres are administered in accordance with all the confidentiality rules required under the Statistics Act. The Research Data Centres meet, in a single location, both the need to facilitate access to detailed micro-data for crucial social research and the need to protect the confidentiality and security of Canadians’ information. The research conducted in the centres generates a wide perspective on Canada's social landscape. The network expands the collaboration between Statistics Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, universities and academic researchers, and it builds on the Data Liberation Initiative ( It also is instrumental in training a new generation of Canadian quantitative social scientists.

E4: Discovering a Profession: the Accidental Data Librarian (Thu, 2005-05-26)
Chair:Severt, Cindy

  • Looking for data directions? Ask a data librarian
    Luis Martinez (London School of Economics Data Library)
    Stuart Macdonald (Edinburgh University Data Library)


    Quantitative data collection in the UK can be traced back to 1086 with the Domesday Survey however it is only in recent history that the acquisition, distribution and analysis of quantitative data in digital format has been possible. 1967 saw the establishment of the UK Data Archive at the University of Essex. The mid 1980s saw the emergence of Edinburgh University Data Library and Oxford Data Library (Nuffield College), and more recently the London School of Economics (LSE) Data Library and the LSE Research Laboratory Data Service. Based at tertiary education institutions these specialised libraries have evolved independently to assist researchers and teachers in the use of quantitative data for analysis and research purposes. Thus whether by design or accident the data librarian was born in the UK. In this digital age with increased IT literacy, technological exposure and expectancy the data librarian’s role is ever more confusing and difficult to identify. This paper will discuss the differing areas of expertise within the UK data libraries, the role of the Data Information Specialists Committee – UK (DISC-UK), in addition to the role played by other information staff which identify them as potential or ‘accidental’ data librarians from ‘non-data library’ institutions.

  • “You’re a what?”: taking stock of the data profession
    Paul H. Bern (Syracuse University)


    Now that IASISST is 31 years old, the time has come to reflect upon what a Data Profession is. Recent discussions about how one becomes a “data librarian” show that there is no single route to becoming one. But, is the data profession just data librarians? Is it even a profession? In this presentation, I plan to investigate what a “profession” is, using some of the many definitions that have been proposed. I will apply these definitions and characteristics to explore whether or not “Data” is a profession. Finally, I will propose some avenues by which we can strengthen the professional qualities of “Data.”

  • First data, then docs
    Jeffrey Bullington (University of Kansas)


    A significant amount of the data used by social scientists emanates from the U.S. Government sector through a number of agencies and programs such as Census, Labor, Education, Social Security, Health and Human Services, and more. Acquiring the additional responsibility for U.S. Government Information subsequent to having data responsibilities brought new perspectives to both areas for this librarian. Among them, a greater respect for the diversity of information, particularly data, produced and distributed by the federal government sector; an appreciation for Title 44 of the U.S. Code and its impact on information accessibility; and the challenges and opportunities for converting U.S. Government Information into an electronic, networked environment. Learning, from the 'documents' side, more about the federal government's nature and structure, new and traditional distribution channels, and nature of information available; have all improved the provision of data services to patrons.

  • Establishing a data service: The Numeric & GeoSpatial Data Service Proposal
    Tiffani Conner (University of Connecticut)


    Creating a new service within an academic library can be an arduous process even for a seasoned data librarian. For this new librarian, with data services part of the job description and a renowned public opinion center located on campus, investigating, designing, and creating the new service required more than an investigation and reporting of the findings. This paper includes an environmental scan of Association of Research Libraries ranked institutions within 3 distinct peer groups, comparisons and evaluations between the subjects, a rationale for the Numeric and GeoSpatial Data Service and its proper placement within the organization, and a 4 year plan for the new service. Included in the paper are elements often overlooked in the proposal and planning stages, including training for the new data librarian(s), likely partners from the campus and community, technological tools to investigate, costs of time and equipment, and a vision for the future.


F1: Timeless Social Data: Past, Present & Future (Thu, 2005-05-26)
Chair:Roberts, Jane

  • Industrial classification and the depiction of open source–based production data
    Fernando Elichirigoity (University of Illinois)
    Cheryl Knott Malone (University of Arizona)


    The implementation of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in 1997 signalled a dramatic and influential break with the past by replacing the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) scheme in use until then to collect information about the American economy. NAICS aims at nothing less than capturing and measuring the information economy. While the change represents an important improvement over the previous system, it also illustrates the difficulty of organizing and aggregating data intended to describe a dynamic economy. To illustrate this issue we look at the ways in which an increasingly significant element of the economy, open source-based software production, is not really depicted or even depictable in NAICS. We argue that the underlying values embedded in NAICS leave no room for novel features of the new economy, such as production practices that interact with traditional forms of economic exchange but are not subject to its rules.

  • The history of the social survey – the social survey in history
    Anne Sofie Fink (Danish Data Archives)


    The social survey as we know it today has roots far back in modern history. It dates back to the idea of the Enlightenment that careful description of natural species, formations of clouds, the population etc. could give an insight that was worth getting.

    The paper will outline the history of the social survey starting from the studies of the poor in the UK carried out by philanthropists up till the social surveys carried out continuously in the modern welfare state. One aspect of this history is the formation of data archives in a wide range of nation states around the world since the 1960s. The data archives were given the obligation of storing and distributing social survey data sets, as governments acknowledged the great scientific value of social survey data sets.

    In many respects, to tell the history of the social survey is to tell the history of the development of the modern welfare state. The argument of the paper will be that the two have walked hand in hand. As we debate the challenges, limitations, and responsibilities of the welfare state so we as data archivists must be aware of the challenges, limitations, and responsibilities of the social survey as a tool for public administration and social science.

  • IASSIST Quarterly

    Publications Special issue: A pioneer data librarian
    Welcome to the special volume of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ (37):1-4, 2013). This special issue started as exchange of ideas between Libbie Stephenson and Margaret Adams to collect


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