I lead a group that develops software for the management, preservation and delivery of digital collections. In some organizations, digital preservation is part of the physical preservation unit. In some organizations, software development is part of the systems office. Or software development might be part of a central IT unit. I work with colleagues who specialize in storage sustainability and auditing. And understanding digital format sustainability. And selecting digital items for collections. And digitizing items. And developing file ingest procedures. And actually cataloging and processing digital collections.
What is my/our identity? And why is this weighing on my mind? Because my organization, like all others, will inevitably change.
I have heard this from a number of other organizations. What is the “best” organizational structure? What is the scope of our work? And, to me the most relevant, “What skills do our staff need?” Do they need to have library degrees? Archives concentrations? Degrees in computer science or IT management? Or Ph.Ds?
They needs the skills to learn. And handle change. And collaborate.
While that sounds a bit casual, we are all constantly learning about new things and changing what we do. 25 years ago, my work focused on digitization and metadata creation and normalization. 15 years ago, my work focused on repurposing digitized collections and course content for the web. 10 years ago my work focused on development of systems to make the management of digital collections easier. Now my work focuses more on sustainability and preservation of born-digital content than of digitized collections. And in all of those roles, I work with colleagues here and at other organizations that do every possible type of work in every possible organizational structure. And in every possible type of organization: libraries, archives, museums, not-for-profits, and commercial entities.
So, getting back to the question I asked myself, I need to worry less about my place in the world. There is no best organizational structure. There is no one best degree. I will never be part of one single group or do one single type of work. None of us will. But I will continue to develop my skills to meet new challenges and work in changing organizational contexts. And I love the variety in my job. That’s what I need to remember.