The National Digital Stewardship Residency program just completed the first year of residencies in the Washington, DC area. The second, upcoming round of residencies will take place in New York and Boston, and both cities have recently announced the selection of residents and projects. At this year’s Digital Preservation 2014, there will be a panel session devoted to the NDSR, with panel members Margo Padilla (Metropolitan New York Library Council and NDSR alum), Kris Nelson (Library of Congress), George Coulbourne (Library of Congress), Andrea Goethals (Harvard University Library), Nancy McGovern (MIT Libraries), Jamie McCurry (Hillwood Estate and NDSR alum) and Maureen McCormick Harlow (Public Broadcasting Service and NDSR alum). In the following interview, Margo and Kris talk about the program and give a preview of the panel session to be presented at Digital Preservation 2014.
Susan: For anyone who’s not familiar, could you give an overview of what the NDSR program is?
Margo: The National Digital Stewardship Residency program is an initiative being funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop new professionals in digital stewardship by funding 9-month postgraduate residencies. Recent graduates gain hands-on experience working on digital projects at selected host institutions, in addition to curricular and training sessions intended to expand upon academic work. Host institutions receive the dedicated contribution of a recent graduate that has received advanced training in digital stewardship.
Susan: What will be the goal of this panel session? Any particular topics you think will be discussed?
Margo: The goal of the session is to provide an introduction to the NDSR program and discuss its ongoing development as a national model for postgraduate residencies. George Coulbourne and Kris Nelson will describe their experience administering the first iteration of the program, and New York and Boston program staff will discuss their implementation of the residencies beginning this September. Maureen McCormick Harlow and Jaime McCurry, two residents from the first cohort, will also be on the panel to describe their experience in the inaugural year.
Susan: By all appearances, the first year of the NDSR program was very successful. What are the lessons learned, to use going forward?
Kris: Without giving too much away about the presentation and panel discussion at the Digital Preservation 2014 conference, I can say that we should have clearer practices in place for some of the program logistics. For example, we must plan educational enrichment sessions, identify guest speakers and coordinate other activities well in advance.
Another lesson learned is to be as collaborative as possible with the New York and Boston NDSR cohorts. We firmly believe that the existing cohorts should learn from each other, share resources, and work together to create as consistent a program as possible. Specifically we will work together to develop a refined, standardized curriculum and identify practices, procedures and content for educational activities that support the curriculum.
We learned so much in the first year of the program in D.C. It will be exciting to share what we have learned and refine the program to optimize the experience for all involved.
Susan: What are the special challenges you think the program faces for this next round of residencies?
Margo: This upcoming year will be an experiment for developing the network of NDSR residents. We would like to continue to foster the connections made within each cohort, past and present, while maintaining a unified NDSR presence and resident community. Connecting new professionals who have been part of a national initiative working with a wide range of institutions will result in a strong, experienced, well-connected community of digital stewards.
Kris: Adding to what Margo stated, the D.C. cohort of residents developed a very strong bond which enabled them to develop strong networks, solve problems collaboratively and enhance their overall experience. It will be hard to replicate this camaraderie with residents in different cities and across different cohorts. We will need to develop a system, likely using technology, social media, and defined communication channels to make each of the cohorts as connected as possible.
Susan: Margo, as a former resident yourself, could you tell us about how this program has benefited you and your career? And also how it benefits the host institutions?
Margo: My experience as a resident in the NDSR program contributed greatly to my project management and teamwork skills. The cohort model afforded me the opportunity to be exposed to a number of digital initiatives and strategies by conferring with my fellow residents. This experience will help me in my current position by guiding how I refine and further develop the program, support residents on their individual projects and ensure incoming cohorts gain a meaningful working and learning experience.
Host institutions receive the dedicated contribution of a recent graduate that has received advanced training in digital stewardship. Residents help shape and advance digital initiatives by working on discrete projects that might not otherwise be possible, whether because of staff or financial limitations. It is also a great opportunity to be part of a collaborative network of institutions and to take part in a national initiative.
Stay tuned to The Signal for more on DP2014 as well as updates on this season’s Residency program.