National Science Foundation awards $400,000 grant to Cornell University Library

Contact: Gail Steinhart
Phone: (607) 255-7251

National Science Foundation awards $400,000 grant to Cornell University Library

Funds will be used to facilitate data sharing and archiving

Mann Library, one of 20 member libraries that comprise Cornell University Library, has been awarded a $400,000 grant by the National Science Foundation to make sharing digital data easier among researchers.

During the three-year grant, librarians from Cornell University will develop a set of services and electronic tools to document and archive digital scientific data that university researchers can use to share their work and make it available to other academic and government repositories.

“This is a very exciting time to be working in an academic library. We’re exploring new ways of managing information and interacting with Cornell researchers,” said Research Data and Environmental Sciences Librarian Gail Steinhart, who will be leading the project. “Some Cornell faculty members have been quick to recognize the potential value of these activities, collaborating with us to include sections on data management and archival plans in their grant proposals. It’s our hope that planning for these activities at the proposal writing stage will both make proposals more attractive to funders, and make the process as simple as possible for researchers when the time comes to prepare and document data for archiving and distribution.”

While researchers produce vast amounts of digital data, an infrastructure that supports the sharing and preservation of this type of data is not universally available across disciplines. To address this problem, Cornell librarians will develop an electronic management system and related services for organizing and archiving digital data, regardless of discipline.

As part of the grant, this data would then be deposited by researchers in a “staging” repository that will be created at Mann Library, which serves the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Human   Ecology. Mann’s repository will be set up so that data sets can be easily retrieved and used by other collaborating researchers, and later transmitted to discipline-specific repositories, or to Cornell’s own digital repository, eCommons. This will ultimately result in the increased public availability of data sets created by Cornell researchers, as well as a set of services that can help researchers fulfill increasingly common requirements from funding agencies that they archive and provide public access to their data.

Hosting such a service within Cornell University Library will provide researchers with the benefit of having local support for these activities, and studies have show that data sharing efforts are more successful when one-on-one assistance is provided to participants. If successful, Mann’s repository could also serve as a model for other academic libraries to provide a data staging repository for use by researchers at their institutions.

To learn more about the grant and this project, contact Gail Steinhart at (607) 255-7251 or

About Cornell University Library

One of the leading academic research libraries in the United States, Cornell University Library is a highly valued partner in teaching, research, and learning at the university, offering cutting edge services and a full spectrum of library resources, from rare books and manuscripts to a rapidly expanding network of digital resources. Through such initiatives as the life sciences portal, the installation of a pioneering high-end mobile and flexible computer laboratory designed specifically for collaborative use, and innovative scholarly publishing support, the Library is an integral component of the many educational programs and research projects under way at Cornell.  To learn more about Cornell University Library, visit