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Reflections on Persistence: A Farewell to CDL

Posted in EZID, Persistent Identifiers, and UC3

Today marks the conclusion of my 5+ year chapter working with the UC3 team at CDL and collaborators across the the world to build, lead, and support infrastructure and initiatives for a more open, connected, and sustainable research ecosystem. This chapter comes to a close as I embark on a new one: joining DataCite as Director of Product. At DataCite, as with UC3, my goals and activities will continue to focus on driving innovative collaborations to support libraries and research communities worldwide and enable greater access to knowledge. 

CDL has a long history of leadership and innovation with persistent identifiers. This is where ARKs were developed, where N2T was built, where EZID paved a new approach to centralized PID-agnostic services, where DMP-IDs were launched, where global collaborations like DataCite and ROR have roots, and much more. We have been in the unique position at CDL to both develop and maintain actual infrastructure and to lead and participate in community initiatives to drive adoption and best practices. UC3’s identifiers portfolio has played – and will continue to play – a strategic role in enabling the University of California’s goals around open scholarship. Being part of these developments over the past 5+ years has been an honor and a privilege.

The world of persistent identifiers is very different today in January 2024 than it was when I stepped into my role in 2018. The past five years have seen an explosion of conversations about PIDs, adoption of PIDs, and the emergence of entirely brand-new PIDs. PIDs have moved from niche corners of the research landscape to be front and center in institutional research policies and federal government guidance

The work is certainly not done and the many promises of PIDs need to continue to be explored and fully realized. But we are undoubtedly in a different and better place than we were 5 years ago. 

PIDs emerge and are often used in the context of technical infrastructure. However, one of the biggest lessons I have learned in my time at UC3 is that PIDs depend on people. Many of the developments we have seen over the past five years have been the result of people and communities coming together to make something better or develop a new solution. The organizations and initiatives running and operating different PID services and systems depend on this kind of active engagement to ensure we are building sustainable, scalable, solutions that address specific challenges, build on existing work, and bring wide-ranging benefits. 

By the same token, an identifier’s persistence is only as strong as the communities behind it, and this can become challenging as people switch roles, as organizations evolve or shut down, as technology changes, and as shiny new projects emerge. Persistence is a problem often discussed from a technical standpoint. But the human side is just as challenging, and long-term responsibility for any infrastructure is not something to be taken lightly. 

Persistence must be bigger than and not depend upon a single person. To that end, it is worth noting that this work will continue after I leave, and the portfolio is in expert hands within the UC3 team. As this chapter comes to a close, I would like to express my gratitude to my colleagues at UC3 and CDL, to the rich network of librarians across UC, and to the wider PID community for their collaborations and support over the years, and I look forward to a new journey ahead together

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