Reading Response, Anna Murphy

P. Bryan Heindorn’s article got me riled up. Heindorn is a librarian himself, but his article on why librarians need to care about data carried a great deal of negative baggage. He is clearly frustrated with the field’s inattention to the new challenge of data management, yet characterizes academic librarians as a bunch of complainers who don’t get why science is important and would rather let someone else do something hard. Seriously. Citing Galileo and Bacon to explain the importance of data felt incredibly patronizing, particularly to an audience of people dedicating their careers to information- we’re already sold on the idea of sharing knowledge. When discussing data management education, he says, “librarians who have adapted their skills are difficult to find” as though there weren’t other things librarians were busy adapting to (like, say, the internet). It seems the failure to embrace data management is most likely caused by an institutional roadblock (money) and not librarians’ unwillingness to learn something new. Even his conclusion is vaguely threatening: “If libraries do not actively engage in the task, then society may choose to create a new type of institution to curate digital data.” Perhaps I am being unfair on this passionate call to action; he does say that librarians have the skills to manage and make available this unwieldy data. I just wish he could make this argument in such a way that would inspire librarians to advocate for data management within their institutions and not put them down for not getting with the times.


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