What does a data librarian do?

A data librarian maintains data for a library system.

A data librarian maintains data for any type of library, from a small public library to a corporate or government archive. Data librarians work with many media formats, including analog text and audio, as well as many digital media formats. These professionals often support the library’s data element with high-level guidance on how to find and handle specific data formats. They are seen as guardians and stewards of advanced technologies that are making their way into more and more library spaces.

Most libraries no longer use old cataloging systems, but online catalogs.

Along with the hands-on work of archiving and maintaining various types of media, a data librarian can also train others on the best ways to use the media and equipment. These professionals can help visitors or other team members figure out the best way to search for a file in a particular media format. A data librarian can even answer questions via email or correspondence, for example when remote users have unresolved issues with data formats, or when the leadership of a company or organization wants to plan for future archiving.

Part of a data librarian’s role may also include information about purchasing library materials. This professional can help decision makers think about which types of media are best acquired and how to store each one. They can also help catalog or classify everything that comes to a library. By being aware of how new media are classified, a data librarian helps a library or archive enter the modern age by updating existing records and their classification systems. This may involve working with other technology professionals, such as network security experts, to ensure that an existing file is safe and secure from cybercrime.

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The role of the data librarian is often more associated with new media formats than traditional ones. A data librarian job might focus more on high-level maintenance needs for digital items, where a traditional librarian might be responsible for maintaining physical books. As more libraries and archives migrate to digital record keeping, data librarians are in demand for all the functions needed to acquire, classify and maintain these more complex media. The job description of one of these library specialists varies depending on what is held in a library or archive, how that office is funded, and where the library is modernizing in the 21st century.

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