Top of page

How Do You Staff Your Digital Preservation Initiatives?

Share this post:

The following is a guest post by Jimi Jones, Digital Audiovisual Formats Specialist with the Office of Strategic Initiatives.

Digital preservation is an emergent field. Businesses, cultural memory institutions and government bodies that want to responsibly preserve and generate digital assets face significant challenges with respect to staffing.

Banquet celebrating the newly hired motormanettes, conductorettes, coachettes and driverettes of LARy by user metrolibraryarchive on flickr
Banquet celebrating the newly hired motormanettes, conductorettes, coachettes and driverettes of LARy by user metrolibraryarchive on flickr

How many staff do we need? What types of positions are needed? What skills, education and experience should we be looking for? Should we hire new staff or retrain existing staff? What functions should be scoped as part of the program? What should be provided by other parts of the organization, outsourced or provided through collaboration with other organizations?

The National Digital Stewardship Alliance  Standards & Practices Working Group  is conducting a survey of organizations currently responsible for digital preservation to gain insight into how organizations worldwide are addressing these staffing, scoping and organizational questions. This survey is open to public, private and government memory institutions.

Here are some examples of questions from the survey:

  • Do you participate in any digital preservation consortial or cooperative efforts?
  • Which of these activities are considered part of the scope of the digital preservation function at your organization, whether or not you have implemented this activity yet? (Respondents can choose from a list including: digitization, metadata creation, fixity checks, secure storage management and much more.)
  • Which department(s) take the lead for digital preservation within your organization? If this is a fairly equally-distributed effort choose more than one. (Respondents can choose from a list including: information technology, preservation department, archives and so on.)
  • How many FTE do you currently have doing digital preservation in your organization, and how many would be ideal? (FTE stands for “full time employees.”)
  • For in-house staff, did you hire experienced digital preservation specialists and/or retrain existing staff?

We have received about 60 responses to the survey so far – including some of our NDSA partners. It is our hope that once we collate and interpret results we can provide valuable information for institutions that are embarking upon digitization and digital preservation programs and/or projects. Results from surveys like these may even become fodder for best practices with respect to digital preservation staffing.

We are excited to announce that we will be presenting the interpreted results of the survey as a poster at the 2012 iPres meeting at the University of Toronto, Canada, October 1-5, 2012. From the iPres website: “the iPRES series embraces a variety of topics in digital preservation – from strategy to implementation, and from international and regional initiatives to small organisations. Within this broad topic area, each conference defines a slightly different focus.” We will make the survey findings widely available after the conference. Keep your eyes on the Signal blog for more!

You still have time to take the survey! If you are interested please click here. Only one response should be submitted per institution.

We will make our best effort to protect your individual survey responses so that no one will be able to connect your responses with you or your organization. Any personal information that could identify you or your organization will be removed or changed before results are made public. We will combine your responses with the responses of others and make the aggregated results public, and preserve the anonymous data long-term for research purposes.

If you would like to plan your answers before filling out the online survey, you can access the survey worksheet here as a Microsoft Word document. After you take the survey, if you would like a copy of your institution’s responses, please send the request to ndsa [at] with the subject line “Staffing Survey” and indicate in the email your institution and the IP address from which you submitted the survey.

We greatly appreciate the responses we’ve received from this survey.  The Standards & Practices Working Group believes that making the results available can help to demystify the processes involved in putting together a digital preservation program or project for the relative newcomer to the field.

Act now! The survey will close on August 17, 2012.

Note: This post was edited on 8/9/12 to include the name and title of the author.

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.