The massive amounts of spatial data generated by digital sensing technologies create enormous opportunities for researchers. They also create vexing issues around ownership and reproducibility of research. The scale and complexity of these data sets pose serious challenges to libraries seeking to support their acquisition and management, according to Julie Sweetkind-Singer, Head of Branner Earth Sciences Library and Map Collections at Stanford University Libraries, and a member of the National Geospatial Advisory Group (NGAC). At CRL's 2018 Global Collections Forum, which focused on “The New Global Information Supply Chain,” she discussed some of the challenges.
Sweetkind-Singer described how Stanford Libraries is supporting research efforts on a scale previously unimaginable. For instance, researchers at Stanford Medical School using commercial satellite data to map the movements of Ethiopian nomadic groups easily missed by public health services. Sweetkind-Singer observed that restrictions imposed by vendors and other data providers can jeopardize sustained access to vital materials.
As more researchers rely on ever-larger geospatial and other global datasets, dealings with service providers are becoming more complex and specialized. To address these challenges for libraries CRL developed, in consultation with experts on library licensing of data resources, “Model Licensing Terms for Global Data Resources.”