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DPOE Turns Three with the July Train-the-Trainer in Illinois

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The following is a guest post from Michael Mastrangelo, a Program Support Assistant in the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the Library of Congress.

Class of 2013 DPOE Topical Trainers in Illinois
Class of 2013 DPOE Topical Trainers in Illinois

The Midwest doubles down on its commitment to digital preservation with its second digital preservation Train-the-Trainer event in two years. Hosted July 9 – 12, 2013, by the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) in partnership with the Library of Congress’s Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) program, the workshop expanded the Midwestern training network started last year in Indiana.

George Coulbourne, Executive Program Officer notes, “Now that the Midwest has the largest population of trained digital preservation practitioners, they are raising the standards of practice in the region and adding historical and economic value to Midwestern digital collections.” Held in Urbana-Champaign, home of University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science, this training builds on Illinois’s investment in the information sector.

DPOE, started in 2010, seeks to foster national outreach and education about digital preservation, using a Train-the-Trainer model. Starting with a three-and-a-half-day training of a small group of dedicated practitioners, DPOE plants the seeds of regional networks which train and advocate digital preservation. Those who complete the Library of Congress’s workshop, called Topical Trainers, build their own teaching tools and go out into their home organizations to spread the training. There are currently 63 topical trainers across 33 states who have trained over one thousand practitioners in their homespun workshops and webinars.

After learning of the success of DPOE’s Indiana Train-the-Trainer event in August of 2012, David Levinson, member of CARLI’s Digital Collections User Groups, reached out to the Library to set up a trainer network in Illinois. Acting as DPOE’s partner, CARLI secured training funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), whose generosity has funded prior DPOE and National Digital Stewardship Residency efforts. CARLI ran a competitive application process, secured the venue and handled key logistical arrangements while still managing their state-wide library resources and training events.

“They (CARLI) went above and beyond our expectations,” Coulbourne noted, “by having the attendees sign contracts pledging to do their trainings within a year. CARLI has been a great partner and they are utilizing the DPOE training network resources to their fullest.”

Viewshare visualization of the DPOE Topical Trainer Network. Each pin represents an attendee of a Train-the-Trainer event.
Viewshare visualization of the DPOE Topical Trainer Network. Each pin represents an attendee of a Train-the-Trainer event.

DPOE’s current anchor instructors are Robin Dale of LYRASIS, Mary Molinaro from the University of Kentucky, and Jacob Nadal of the Brooklyn Historical Society. This team represents some of the nation’s top digital preservation experts.  Both Molinaro and Dale have been involved with the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program and the National Digital Stewardship Residency. Their generosity in offering their service without any fees, along with the commitment from their organizations, makes the trainings affordable to smaller organizations like CARLI.

The real beneficiaries of the DPOE training are the trainee’s home organizations which will be infused with basic digital preservation training. Illinois Institute of Technology, Lake Forest College, Eastern Illinois University, Newberry Library and many others in Illinois, now have staff ready to train and practice digital preservation.

Coulbourne said that “One of DPOE’s most valuable attributes is its cost-effectiveness. The cultural heritage community needs quality training at a low cost. Digital preservation is a critical skill set but training current staff is often too expensive for smaller institutions.  We don’t compete with the I-schools and professional organizations but work with them to fill in the gaps.”

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