Starting the Arizona State University Library SHARE Intern Program

Developing the Internship

In 2016, I (Matthew) was selected as a SHARE curation associate to develop my digital curation skills and enhance the Arizona State University (ASU) repository while contributing to the SHARE initiative. Through this project I helped establish a partnership between SHARE, the Center for Open Science (COS), and ASU for SHARE to be the new infrastructure for a statewide research-discovery portal, which is a component of the LiveData initiative, funded by the Arizona Board of Regents’ Technology and Research Initiative Fund. LiveData is a tri-university effort to improve research data management and scholarly productivity at Arizona’s three public universities. SHARE’s integration with other open systems—including institutional, national, and disciplinary repositories, as well as metadata registries and publishers—made it a perfect fit by reducing the research and development barrier for the project. Essentially, by building its portal on SHARE, the LiveData team did not have to “reinvent the wheel.”

As the partnership spun up we needed to ensure the authenticity of the information within the SHARE database as the most accurate picture of our scholarly works and the correct affiliation of our researchers. It is up to us at the institutional level to identify the current state of SHARE’s harvested metadata and authenticate and remediate it where necessary. Thus the ASU Library created the SHARE Internship program.

I remembered COS co-founder Jeff Spies’s session about starting an internship program at the July 2016 SHARE curation associates meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia, and drew up a description to add to the ASU Library internship portfolio. I contacted Jeff at the outset and he graciously assisted in designing the position. We cast a wide net of outcomes to encourage a diverse set of applicants. The internship is real-world focused based on the skills of the applicant and includes such potential projects as:

  • Programmatic harvesting
  • Metadata quality assurance
  • SHARE tool development
  • Marketing and outreach
  • Business model analysis and development (removing barriers to information access)
  • Preprint publishing plan development

These multiple outcomes afford us many opportunities for a robust candidate pool. Another important component, encouraged by Jeff, is the emphasis on openness and diversity. The job description ends with a welcome to any interested candidate that can be applied for any position we post:

We welcome a diversity of skills, skill levels, backgrounds, and interests. This diversity is not only welcome, but will result in a better, more impactful experience for students and project outcomes for the library. If you think this is of interest but are not sure where you might fit in, contact us and let us discuss.

From the pool of applicants, we identified computer information systems honors student Maeve Norton from the W. P. Carey School of Business as our first SHARE intern. Maeve’s skills in database analysis and construction fit in with our assessment needs, and her enthusiastic interest in librarianship made her the perfect choice.

Project Strategy

Working with Maeve, Jeff, and Rick Johnson (visiting program officer for SHARE) we determined that an achievable target for spring 2017 would be an evaluation of researcher identification and affiliation within the SHARE data set utilizing a hybrid of automatic statistical heuristics paired with manual curation techniques. Maeve searched SHARE and our faculty directory, creating probabilities around individuals to determine if they were either at ASU, at another Arizona institution, or of unknown affiliation. She then documented the issues and relationship patterns, indicating the sources of the information and how it was displayed within SHARE.

We focused on researchers with whom we have interacted or those who made recent academic news. The more complex data set of researcher identities beyond our university who contribute to our scholarship will be addressed later. Unknown researchers are of even lower priority and could be passed to the community, curation/metadata librarians, or wait until we have a better grasp of the environment.

Jeff also encouraged us to use a one-hour problem-solving rule, which is employed at COS. If Maeve ran into difficulty, she would set the clock and give herself an hour to figure it out. If she still had not figured it out after one hour, then she would ask for help. The strategy benefitted us in enabling Maeve to be an active learner and problem solver who gave herself time to figure things out, and also did not allow problems to fester indeterminately for days (if not weeks) because she didn’t think she could ask for help. Adding to this we were brought directly into COS communication threads to allow Maeve to act as a member of the overall SHARE team operating from ASU. These two communication strategies enabled us to move forward and achieve our first objective on time before the summer break.

Maeve’s report and her ongoing work for the ASU LiveData project is an OSF SHARE curation associates project component. The report helped us identify ambiguity issues in the information provided by SHARE regarding affiliating researchers with ASU. Researchers may be in the database but not listed as contributors from the university.

The Library’s Assessment of the Internship

The SHARE internship is ASU Library’s first detailed comparison of the results of metadata harvesting of our resources by SHARE with a goal to improve the interconnection between our repositories and the SHARE database. Maeve’s report identified issues in harvesting and gaps and inconsistency in our own metadata, providing a foundation for remediation. Returning this fall, Maeve will move to her second milestone “to develop and/or adopt reusable programmatic techniques to discover faulty ASU metadata in SHARE and cleanse it more efficiently and at much larger quantities.”

Lessons learned for the library:

  • Developing and implementing the internship can be a very organic process if you are flexible and upfront about diversity. Think outside of the box.
  • Undergraduates can do amazing things. Serious internships are not just for graduate students.
  • Empower interns, as they are just as valuable as any other staff.
  • Utilize the one-hour problem-solving rule. Seriously, it’s a good rule.

This was certainly a positive and fruitful experience for the library but it was also beneficial for Maeve as she discusses the project in her own words (below).

Maeve’s Assessment of the Internship

As a SHARE intern with ASU Library, I have gained a greater appreciation for the role of the library within a university or institution, as well as SHARE’s contributions to its role. Especially during this time when classrooms continue to use more technology, it seems that many of my peers aren’t fully aware of the resources that the library has to offer them, or the support that it provides for students and faculty researchers. Libraries are embracing and adapting to change as an opportunity to improve their ability to serve students and faculty, exemplified by ASU and its relationship with the Center for Open Science and SHARE.

It is fitting that ASU—as the “New American University” and “#1 school in innovation”—should be partnering with SHARE. During my time as an intern thus far, I have learned the true value of the inclusiveness-driven open access movement in fostering innovation and supporting researchers and institutions. From my work identifying inconsistencies between ASU’s metadata and its metadata provided to SHARE, I appreciate how important it is that institutional libraries develop relationships with their research communities, and that they leverage these relationships to optimize their utilization of tools like SHARE. A large part of the value that the institutions, such as ASU, have in their partnerships with SHARE includes this knowledge of their community, which I have realized personally as I use my knowledge of ASU faculty to more effectively compare their works’ metadata and trace the root causes of any discrepancies.

Overall, I am very excited to continue my SHARE internship with ASU Library this fall. I have developed a great appreciation for library science and open access initiatives like SHARE that work under the noble mission of supporting their communities through spreading scholarly feats.

Looking Ahead

The internship has been a success so far. In addition to the practical outcomes, we are providing an opportunity for undergraduates to work with us, regardless of their area of study, and fostering interest and excitement in the library profession. Maeve also integrated her work with SHARE into her honors coursework. We hope she emerges from the program with a deep interest in library and information science but also a head start into the workforce with practical, real-world experience. With this success we are expanding this program and considering adding additional SHARE interns. We encourage prospective interns to contact us. Truly a win for us, this internship program is also a win for everyone, everywhere.