Data Sets Are the New Collection Item

Computational knowledge is all the rage.  The recent WolframAlpha Data Summit was a sellout event as a wide variety of database owners gathered to explore how to generate answers from data that may be just sitting gathering dust.  The range of data under consideration is expanding, including data from movies, UNICEF, and BBC.   The conference, was by invitation only and interest exceeded capacity.  The community hosts a blog at to stay updated on their latest ingestation of data.

Washington, DC chapter of Special Libraries Association, hosted Troy King of the US Census Bureau for an overview of data available from this agency.  The most striking point of his presentation was education needed to understand the data.

The Census Bureau offers a great model of information literacy.  Although ‘everything’ is on the Web, that does not equate to easily understood statistics, followed by responsible use of data.  Supporting complex electronic data with free training opportunities, offered in a variety of instructional formats, seems to be a socially responsible solution.  I personally like the human interaction approach, but perhaps that is why I became a librarian!

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