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National Digital Stewardship Residency Lessons Learned and Next Steps

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The following is a guest post by Kris Nelson, Program Management Specialist at the Library of Congress and Program Coordinator of the National Digital Stewardship Residency.

NDSR residents celebrate their experience. Photo Credit: Ali Fazal.

It’s hard to believe that the current cohort of National Digital Stewardship Residents will conclude their program later this month.   After nine months of working on their projects, attending conferences and lectures and presenting in their areas of expertise, we can proudly call them “graduates” of the program.  I am also happy to report that many of our residents already have their post-residency plans in place.  Many residents have already accepted job positions or are pursuing graduate work.

There have been so many positive outcomes of this NDSR experience for both the residents and the program management.   The residents have been writing about their experiences for months now on The Signal, but we (from a program management perspective) have gained some significant takeaways as well.   We have found many ways that we can improve the program logistically and programmatically and have also noted ways to improve educational content, including improving upon our curriculum and activities required of residents.   All of these lessons learned will be applied to make the next D.C. program (and the New York and Boston programs) even stronger.

Planning Stages for D.C. NDSR in 2015

We are in the very early planning stages for the 2015 NDSR D.C. cohort.  A major change for the next D.C. residency program is that the program has been lengthened from nine months to one year.  We think the additional three months of field experience will greatly benefit our residents and enable them to dig deeper into the project work.  As with the first cohort, we will be selecting 10 residents for the 2015 program.

This summer we will provide an information session to educate prospective institutions on the process of becoming a host site along with expectations and information about submitting a project proposal.   We anticipate selecting 10 host institutions by early fall 2014.  Also in the fall of 2014 we will open the application period for the next class of residents that will start in January 2015 and finish in December 2015.  Specific dates and information will be made available in the next few months.

Becoming a Host for the Washington, D.C. NDSR

Capitol at Night. Photo Credit: Cameron Whitman
Capitol at Night. Photo Credit: Cameron Whitman

Becoming a hosting institution for NDSR in D.C. requires completing a few steps which will be covered in more depth during the information session this summer.   Essentially, the host has to demonstrate a commitment from senior management for full support of the program; identify capable mentors; develop an extensive project proposal; and describe why the hosting agency is a good fit for the program.

The success of the residency experience is dependent upon securing engaging host institutions and mentors.   Hosting institutions should:

  • Be engaged in the digital preservation and management community.
  • Be responsible for the long-term stewardship of digital objects or be in a position to influence other institutions with this responsibility.
  • Be able to integrate the residents into the work and organizational culture of the institution.
  • Be able to supply  adequate space, supplies, equipment and additional resources required for the successful completion of the residency projects.
  • Allow resident supervisor/mentors to participate in occasional meetings with project colleagues and program staff.
  • Be able to provide significant digital stewardship projects with measurable outcomes.
  • Preferably have some experience hosting interns, residents, or fellows.

Good project proposals are:

  • Well defined and contain explicit descriptions of deliverables.
  • Significantly intellectually engaging.
  • Practical, hands-on, and collaborative in nature.
  • Designed so that residents can complete the project in one year.
  • Designed to incorporate transferable skills that will be beneficial for the resident’s future career.
  • Focused either on an aspect of the digital lifecycle or some specific process that spans the entire cycle.

As the summer progresses, I will provide updates with relevant dates and procedures for participating in the program.   I will also provide more information about becoming a resident, including application procedures as the time draws near.  Please forward questions to [email protected].

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