A Clean, Well-Lit Place for Spectra

November 09, 2009

Bonnie Swoger, Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo asks a very interesting question on the CHMINF-L mailing list:

Theoretical question here from a still-new science librarian:

Let's say that a faculty member wants a particular spectra (IR, NMR, etc). He has exhausted the free options (available on many of the excellent guides put together by many members of this list) and the spectra available in SciFinder (which we subscribe to). We don't subscribe to any other specialty chemical databases that provide this information.

What would his options be? With our shrinking budgets, I would be hard pressed to justify subscribing to one of the spectra databases, especially since it would get limited use.

Is there a way to "ILL" particular spectra? Or would the faculty member need to determine which journal article a spectra appeared in and ILL that? Or are there other options?

This question is purely theoretical at this point. Faculty members have asked me about additional access to spectra, but there hasn't been a lot of follow-up.

Any guidance you can provide would be useful!

For those not familiar with the term, "ILL" means "Inter Library Loan" - a method for a library to offer materials by borrowing them from other libraries.

There are several services, commercial and free, that I could mention. The problem is that none of them make it easy to get a spectrum that isn't already in "the collection".

For that, we need a new kind of spectroscopy marketplace. One built on the principles of openness and peer-review. One that's free to use in every sense of the word. One that takes advantage of the best technologies the Web currently has to offer to enable scientists' innate desire to help each other and make their results widely known.

Chempedia may offer a glimpse of what this new kind of service could look like. In Chempedia, scientists themselves take center stage. We're currently working on ways to take this simple idea in innovative directions. Chempedia's problem domain is substance registration (on which nearly all chemistry information resources depend), but the approach can be applied to any area - for example, spectroscopy.

If you're looking for ways to make big contributions to the scientific enterprise through information technology, create the solution to Bonnie's problem.