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Digital Preservation’s Got Talent: Awarding Innovation and Accomplishment

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The following is a guest post by Trevor Owens, Digital Archivist with the Office of Strategic Initiatives.

How can the digital stewardship community do more to recognize and encourage innovation in the field?

Trophies, by terren in Virgina, on Flickr
Trophies, by terren in Virgina, on Flickr

That was the central question posed to the participants of And the Winner Is…, a workshop hosted by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Innovation Working Group at the Make it Work Conference.

Participants in this workshop laid the groundwork for the creation of a slate of awards to recognize achievement in digital preservation. To be clear, this is not about monetary awards. First and foremost, the goal of these awards is to help the membership of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance recognize and encourage innovative and important work in the field.

This post invites you into the conversation and discussion from the workshop. What kinds of awards would help recognize and encourage work with important collections, tools, services, organizations and student projects related to digital stewardship and preservation?

At the workshop, participants proposed some categories for awards. These included awards for research and development, innovative practices and valuable events and meetings. One idea involved the creation of “external awards.”  That is, awards which draw attention to work of legislators, researchers or organizations who have made significant impacts on the field, but that are not particularly engaged in the digital preservation community. Along with these ideas,  the group was particularly excited about awards to recognize and encourage graduate and undergraduate student work. For example, awards for best student project and or best student paper related to digital stewardship.

Beyond the specifics of any award, the workshop attendees agreed that any awards process must involve transparency and consistency. Further, the group agreed that the particular slate of awards could be flexible and iterative, allowing for the creation and retirement of any individual award on an annual basis.

Certificates of Achievement given to NDSA Members, by Trevor Owens, Public Domain
Certificates of Achievement given to NDSA Members, by Trevor Owens, Public Domain

As a next step, the NDSA innovation working group is convening an action team to create, accept nominations for, and ultimately give out the inaugural set of awards at next years meeting.

You can expect to hear more about the awards, and the process for nomination, on this blog. If you are interested in being involved in this initiative, contact the innovation working group co-chairs. If your organization is not an NDSA member, consider joining the Alliance.

With that said, the easiest way to be involved in this process is to simply share your ideas for awards in the comments to this post.

To kick off the conversation, below are some example ideas of the kinds of awards in the categories workshop participants discussed. Which of these seem like good ideas to you? What do you think we need to do a better job recognizing? We would be thrilled if you would take a few minutes to share your thoughts in the comments on this post.

Examples of sustainability-focused awards

  • Most successful stewardship of an “at risk” content collection
  • Most creative approach to sustainability for a new content collection
  • Most creative approach to sustainability for an existing content collection
  • Best focus on use of standards in content stewardship
  • Best vision of sustainability in digital stewardship
  • Best use of collaboration in supporting collections
  • Best approach to new funding resources
  • Real world reliability of long-term storage: recognizing digital collections stewarded over a long time

Examples of content-focused awards

  • Most unusual new collection under stewardship
  • Most unusual existing collection under stewardship
  • Most innovative user interface to a digital collection
  • Best new collection in a specific format type
  • Best existing collection in a specific format type
  • Best approach to highlighting or providing more visibility to a collection
  • Best vision of content development for the future
  • Good migrations: award for system and format migrations

Examples of Organization-Focused Awards

  • Most creative approach to a new collection under stewardship
  • Most creative approach to an existing collection under stewardship
  • Best new collection under stewardship by a small public library
  • Best new collection under stewardship by a non-library organization
  • Best new collection under stewardship by a state library organization
  • Best business models for funding preservation and access to public goods
  • Winning legal strategies: recognizing legal strategies for enabling long term access in face of short-term copyright, IP and confidentiality restrictions

Examples of student awards

  • Best student paper related to digital stewardship
  • Best new collection student project
  • Most important contribution from a student fellow or intern to a digital stewardship initiative

So, what do you think? Are any of these ideas and categories particularly interesting to you? What awards would you want to see?

Comments (2)

  1. You’ve got the practitioners and the students well-covered — what about teachers and trainers? Or researchers?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled about where you’ve started! Practitioners get short shrift far too often. I think there’s room for just a bit more, though…

    • Excellent point–thanks for making it!

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