Jeffrey C. Oliver, Benjamin J. Hickson, and Christine E. Kollen
The library's primary trade is information. In this era of big data, though, information is increasingly available in non-bibliographic media, often in specialized databases with unique file formats. The University of Arizona Libraries' data specialists facilitate research exploiting two spheres of information that have seen explosive growth in recent years. The first, bioinformatics, involves biological data, primarily associated with DNA sequences; such data are being used to understand disease risk factors, agricultural engineering, and the evolution of life on Earth. The second involves geographic information systems, or GIS, which is information technology that allows for the storage, manipulation, analysis, and display of geospatial data. GIS are widely employed across a variety of industries to address and provide support for a myriad of issues including the maximization of delivery efficiency, tracking the spread of disease, predicting forest fire severity, and the maintenance of infrastructure, to name only a few. Accessing these data, and analyzing them once retrieved, increasingly requires specialized skills – skills for which the University Libraries provide support and training. Here we discuss the demand for these data and how the library is increasing support through specialized programming, including web resources and hands-on workshops.