Research Collections and Support

Libraries are increasingly leveraging the raw materials of scholarship and knowledge formation by emphasizing the creation and curation of institutional research assets and outputs, including digitized special collections, research data, and researcher profiles. Our work informs current thinking about research collections and the emerging services that libraries are offering to support contemporary modes of scholarship. We are encouraging the development of new ways for libraries to build and provide these types of collections and deliver distinctive services. Our efforts are focused in the following three areas:



ArchiveGrid is a growing collection of over two million archival material descriptions that provides a foundation for OCLC Research collaboration and interactions with the archival community, and also serves as the basis for our experimentation and testing in text mining, data analysis, and discovery system applications and interfaces.

Demystifying Born Digital

This project focuses on enhancing the effective management of born-digital materials as they intersect with special collections and archives practices in research libraries.

Digitizing Special Collections

To help address issues around making special collections digitally accessible, OCLC Research has produced a number of reports that challenge the library and archival community to reexamine practices.

An Increasing Role for Libraries in Research Information Management

Advancing technologies, standards and networked information offer new opportunities for an institution to steward and disseminate the scholarly outputs of its researchers. Research Information Management (RIM) is the aggregation, curation and utilization of information about research and is emerging as a part of scholarly communications practice in many university libraries. RIM adoption offers libraries new opportunities to support institutional and researcher goals, and OCLC Research is investigating this rapidly evolving landscape, in collaboration with OCLC Research Library Partnership member institutions.

Institutional Stakeholders in Research Support

In research universities today, there is a growing need for previously siloed campus units to increasingly work together to address complex institutional challenges and to support enterprise-wide services. Operating in this enterprise ecosystem is challenging, often because stakeholders know little about the operations of other units, making it difficult to effectively engage, identify points of common interest, and collaborate to support research services. To help fill this gap, and inform communication and partnership, OCLC Research has begun an effort to better understand the operations, goals, and pain points of university stakeholders in research support services.

Role of Libraries in Data Curation

Academic libraries are increasingly expected to play a role in data curation, supporting the requirements of both the university and its researchers. Since there is seldom additional funding for this additional activity, we are involved in a variety of projects to explore low-barrier, meaningful ways in which libraries can begin to manage research datasets.

Representing Organizations in ISNI

Task Group on Representing Organizations in ISNI has the goals to document how organizations should be represented in the ISNI database and to advise the OCLC ISNI team in Leiden on ways to improve ISNI record quality, encoding, completeness, user interface, diffusion and to help better engage the community.

Research Data Management

In recent years, research data management (RDM) has assumed an increasingly prominent place in scholarly communication, funder requirements, codes of academic practice, university research strategy and even national policy. OCLC Research has followed these developments and responded with a program of work examining researchers' needs and the role of university libraries in supporting researchers and assisting universities in meeting emerging compliance requirements.

Research Information Management at US Institutions

OCLC Research project examines research information management (RIM) practices in the United States. The forthcoming OCLC Research report will provide a more comprehensive view of RIM practices in the US than any previous project, exploring use cases, systems, practices, workflows, and stakeholders.

The Secret Life of Data (SLO-Data)

The Secret Life of Data (SLO-data) project will improve the quality of information collected during archaeological excavations across the globe, preserve this information, and share it with the public. Outcomes include exemplary open datasets, an expansion of Open Context’s data publishing services, and online educational modules. The project team includes researchers at Stanford University, OCLC Research, the University of Michigan, and the Institute for Field Research.

Stewarding Audiovisual Materials

Archives and special collections hold huge numbers of analog and physical digital audiovisual (A/V) media, many of which are unique and/or of high research value. Changes in scholarship have led to an increased interest in A/V collections for the kinds of subjects they often document. But many of these collections are vulnerable, with only a short window of time before the formats will degrade and playback equipment will no longer be available, and the material will become impossible to access.

Terms of Use and Reuse for Finding Aid Metadata

The goal of this project is to facilitate use and reuse for archival metadata reliably and efficiently, in order to promote finding aid metadata for research and discovery.

Web Archiving Metadata Working Group

The OCLC Research Library Partnership Web Archiving Metadata Working Group will evaluate existing and emerging approaches to descriptive metadata for archived websites and will recommend best practices to meet user needs and to ensure discoverability and consistency.

Selected Past Projects

Preservation Health Check

OCLC Research and the Open Planets Foundation (OPF) are conducting a Preservation Health Check pilot to analyze the quality of preservation metadata created and in use by operational repository and deposit systems and evaluate the potential of such metadata for assessing digital preservation risks.
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Registering Researchers in Authority Files

The Registering Researchers Task Force aims to create a concise report summarizing the benefits and trade-offs of emerging approaches to the problem of incomplete national authority files.
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Establishing an Evidence Base for Special Collections

Research libraries are repositioning special collections and archives, but require an evidence base to help them make decisions about where and how to invest.
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Does Every Research Library Need a Digital Humanities Center?

The digital humanities (DH) are attracting considerable attention and funding at the same time that this nascent field strives for an identity. Some research libraries are committing significant resources to creating DH centers. But questions about whether such an investment is warranted persist across the cultural heritage community.
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Barriers to Using EAD

Encoded Archival Description (EAD) is an encoding standard for markup and display of archival finding aids. EAD has enjoyed international adoption and has been implemented at large and small institutions. However, many institutions still encounter barriers to EAD implementation. Our focus in this activity was to identify barriers to EAD implementation and recommend ways to get past them.
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Archival Collections Assessment

An accurate census of its archival collections enables an institution to act strategically in meeting user needs, allocating available resources and securing additional funding. Although a number of institutions have undertaken collections assessments, a single, commonly-understood approach does not exist. This activity defined archival collections assessment, identified existing assessment instruments and methodologies and described the range of deliverables from these instruments and methodologies.
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