The Latest Digital Preservation Projects

On Aug. 17, 2017, the Library of Congress’ (LC) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) grant-funded National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) program showcased the digital preservation projects undertaken by this year’s residents at institutions located in the Washington, D.C., area. The projects were meant to advance not only the institutions at which they were conceived, but also the digital preservationist community.

The NDSR 2017 Symposium, Blending Collaborations and Bridging Gaps: Digital Preservation Communities of Practice, reinforced the importance of collaborating during the digital preservation process. As Judy Ruttenberg, one of the project mentors at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), observed, the residents’ commitment to collaboration was evident even in the manner in which the symposium was organized and managed throughout the day.

The residents stressed 1) the value in having mentors to help them shape their projects and make them successful and 2) their eagerness to leave something behind at their institutions, but more broadly, to the community of archivists and others involved in digital preservation, through toolkits, guidance documents, and a network of expertise on which they can rely.

Looking to the Future

One of the welcome addresses was given by George Coulbourne, chief of internship and fellowship programs and national and international outreach at the LC, who was there at the start (in 2013) and has shepherded NDSR to become a residency model for digital stewards of our national heritage. Coulbourne intends to double down with a train-the-trainer approach to teaching the six modules for the digital preservation lifecycle to underfunded state and rural libraries through a Digital Preservation Corps.

Trevor Owens, IMLS’ acting associate deputy director for library services (now the head of digital content management in library services at the LC), spoke about how IMLS’ Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program is helping to address the need to cultivate a digital libraries workforce. Compared to 30 years ago, students completing library and information science programs today possess a different set of skills, and this generation of workers may not be eager to wait years to move up the organization’s hierarchy before taking on responsibilities. Owens urged libraries to rethink how they can take advantage of the skill sets that recent graduates have to offer, giving them opportunities to…

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