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A Natural Passion for All Things Digital Preservation

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The following is a guest post from Heather Bowden, Digital Preservation Outreach and Education Program Specialist in the Library of Congress Office of Strategic Initiatives.

On January 3rd, it was my great pleasure to be simultaneously ringing in the New Year and starting my work as the new Digital Preservation Outreach and Education Program Specialist. I have both literally and figuratively hit the ground running here as I am making plans and taking action for growing the program in 2012 and onward. I am a die-hard digital preservation educator, researcher, and enthusiast and am thrilled with my new job.

Heather Bowden
Heather Bowden

I most recently hail from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I have been pursuing my PhD in Information and Library Science, specializing in Digital Curation. During my tenure at UNC I was very fortunate to be under the tutelage of the esteemed Dr.’s Helen Tibbo (Alumni Distinguished Professor and SAA Past President) and Cal Lee (Associate Professor and editor of I, Digital: Personal Collections in the Digital Era). I worked with both of them as a project manager for the DigCCurr II project where I orchestrated the first DigiCCurr Professional Institute on Curation Practices for the Digital Object Lifecycle and built the Digital Curation Exchange website; and the Closing the Digital Curation Gap project where I conducted focus groups and interviews with digital curation practitioners to inform the creation of online Digital Curation Guides.

My own research at UNC revolves around what I call file format “endangerment.” Viewing file format obsolescence as being akin to species extinction, I am addressing the period of time before obsolescence, where the content saved in a particular file format is in danger (i.e., “endangered”) of not being render-able for human use. I am working on creating a unified file format endangerment rating metric that I am designing to be a machine-actionable component of an automated file format endangerment warning system.

Beyond my natural passion for all things digital preservation, I am an artist, crafter, puppeteer, and amateur birder. Occasionally, I torture my neighbors with my halting accordion playing.

A Little Bit About DPOE

DPOE’s mission is to foster national outreach and education to encourage individuals and organizations to actively preserve their digital content, building on a collaborative network of instructors, contributors, and institutional partners. And by a wonderful act of fate, this happens to be my personal mission, too. Fortunately for me, DPOE has a strong foundation from which I can launch further outreach and growth. In September of last year, DPOE held its first Baseline Train-the-Trainer workshop here in Washington D.C., where 24 new digital preservation trainers were trained. Distributed across six regions of the United States, these trainers returned to their home states and have already begun organizing digital preservation training events in their regions. You can see these and other digital preservation training events in the DPOE Training Events Calendar.

These trainers, the DPOE instructors, and existing DPOE partners form the base of the growing DPOE network. It is my goal to grow the network by forming partnerships to hold more train-the-trainer workshops, by facilitating the creation of regional DPOE hubs, and by expanding our reach to serve more industries and individuals who will benefit from digital preservation education. Our goal at the Library of Congress is to serve as a convener and a central hub in what will be a broad and expanding network of digital preservation trainers and professionals.

With this in mind, I would like to invite you all to join the network.


  1. So pleased.

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