This paper looks at the re-envisioning of library and information services from a digital curation perspective within the current landscape of developing Research Data Services (RDS) at UCT. The authors, Digital Curation Officers at UCT Libraries’ Digital Library Services (DLS), provide feedback on their practical experience with venturing into new research data terrains, while formulating and implementing RDS at UCT Libraries. The paper explains the motivation behind the recent deployment of software tools and platforms for enabling RDS at UCT Libraries and describes the effects that these technologies have had on the immediate library environment, as well as the role that UCT Libraries plays in the research landscape. A key aspect of the paper is a reflection on the strategies used for mobilising and engaging with librarians, as an effort to minimise disruption and maximise collaboration.
Digital curation encompasses the selection, collection, archiving, preservation and maintenance of all types of digital information; including but not limited to research data. The intervention of digital curation in academic libraries aims to ensure that research assets and outputs are ethically created, disseminated and reused, while ensuring long term access and data integrity. Johnston et al. (2017, p154) argue that “curation needs to be seen as part of a larger suite of services offered by libraries in support of the research life cycle and that the services evolve over time”. Data curation and the deployment of technologies to enable RDS should subsequently be seen as one part of a single, integrated research support function in academic libraries. The disruption of RDS is therefore a creative intervention working to expand and improve the libraries’ role in enabling research excellence. At the early stages of integrating RDS into the libraries’ research support functions, it is imperative that there is a vision for co-creation, collaboration and mutual understanding amongst all affected stakeholders. This paper reflects on the ways in which the authors have worked to integrate this vision with the deployment of RDS at UCT Libraries. Upon conclusion, we reflect on the different library roles involved in research life cycle support services and consider how these roles are facing changes with the introduction of RDS.