May 28, 2022

New Report From CLIR: “The Open Data Imperative: How the Cultural Heritage Community Can Address the Federal Mandate”

The following report was published today by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

From CLIR’s News Release:

New U.S. government requirements for exposing and managing federally funded research data add urgency to the call for curating data that can be used, reused, and exploited by future generations, according to a new report from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The Open Data Imperative: How the Cultural Heritage Community Can Address the Federal Mandate, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), offers a series of recommendations to improve the open data infrastructure, engage a broad community of stakeholders to support the management of data as an asset, and expand collaboration that is vital to ensuring public access to data.

In 2013, the U.S. government issued a mandate requiring federal agencies with annual research and development expenditures of more than $100 million to create plans for increasing access to federally funded scientific research, both as published articles and as data. These plans have significant implications for cultural heritage institutions in addressing the current deficit in the capacity to support the re-use of data over time and across generations of technology (digital curation) and in enabling collaboration based on shared infrastructure.

In Part I of the report, Suzie Allard presents an analysis of 21 federal agency public access plans that were openly available as of late 2015. Allard, associate dean for research in the College of Communication and Information and professor in the School of Information Sciences at The University of Tennessee, provides 12 high-level findings grouped around open data infrastructure, roles and responsibilities, and making data public. These findings, she writes, “suggest that the mandate has created opportunities for cultural heritage institutions to both build upon and contribute to the infrastructure being developed by the federal agencies.”

Providing public access to data requires effective digital curation strategies. In Part II, Christopher Lee reports on interviews with project staff from seven recent IMLS-funded projects that included significant digital curation objectives to identify lessons about skills, capabilities, and institutional arrangements that can facilitate digital curation activities. Lee is professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

A skilled workforce is essential if the promise of public access to data is to be fulfilled. In Part III, Nancy Y. McGovern, head of curation and preservation services at MIT Libraries, surveys curriculum development and training programs relating to digital curation, examines digital curation competencies, and analyzes job descriptions for digital curation to identify the skills and roles they entail.

“The cumulative results, findings, and recommendations of this report provide a holistic view of data stewardship and the infrastructure required to support data-driven research and innovation,” writes CLIR Senior Program Officer Alice Bishop, who co-authored the report.

Direct to

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.