Focus on Alumni is our series of blog posts written by #citylis alumni.
This post is by #citylis alumnus Simon Younger, Project Manager with the Information Services team at City University London.
I have recently started a new role as a project manager with the Information Services team at City University London. Projects are very varied. Library systems are obviously a major part of university technology, but the team also provides systems and services to support many other ways in which the university creates or uses information.
One aspect of the role will be helping to deliver City’s ambitions as a research-led university. Research data management (RDM) has been a much-discussed topic amongst academic librarians in recent years. Funding bodies increasingly demand good information management from the individuals and organisations they support as a condition of their funding – for example, by ensuring that research results are reproducible, and that the underlying data is made openly available.
Although technology is an important part of an RDM solution, it relies on having solid underlying policies and processes. RDM is an example of the need for good information management, including a clearly defined information lifecycle. For example, researchers and research datasets need to be uniquely identified, sensitive data must be kept secure, and datasets must remain accessible long after the software used to create or access them has become obsolete. City already uses an open access repository and the MSc course has given me a head-start in knowing how to tackle the more difficult questions surrounding RDM.
Studying for the MSc in Library Science made me realise that library science is very misunderstood, and often under-valued. Try asking your friends what they think a librarian does, and most answers will probably refer to books, catalogues, silence and shelving. Happily, many library, information and archive roles do still involve physical documents and records. However, the huge increase in digital literacy, access and volume of digital documents has added a whole new layer of complexity (and hence interest) to the classic library and information skills of good organisation, easy retrieval, copyright management, etc. This has been recognised at City by merging the Library and Information Technology teams into a single Information Services structure.
Not all library and information roles involve such close working with IT, and some might be daunted by it. But I defy anyone not to be enthused by, for example, the technology used by the British Library’s GeoReferencer project, or the wonderful work carried out by museums and archives across the UK to make historical documents accessible to anyone with a laptop.