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Residency Program Success Stories, Part One

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The following is a guest post by Julio Díaz Laabes, HACU intern and Program Management Assistant at the Library of Congress.

Coming off the heels of a successful beginning for the Boston and New York set of cohorts, the National Digital Stewardship Residency Program is becoming a model for digital stewardship residencies on a national scale. This residency program, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services,offers recent master’s and doctoral program graduates in specialized fields- library science, information science, museum studies, archival studies and others- the opportunity to gain professional experience in the field of digital preservation.

Clockwise from top left: Lee Nilsson, Maureen McCormick Harlow, Erica Titkemeyer and Heidi Elaine Dowding.

The inaugural year of the NDSR program was completed in May of 2014. During this year, ten residents were placed in various organizations in the Washington, DC area. Since completing the program, all ten residents are now working in positions related to the field of digital preservation! Here are some accounts of how the program has impacted each of the resident’s lives and where they are now in their careers.

Lee Nilsson is employed in a contract position as a junior analyst at the Department of State, Bureau of International Information and programs. Specifically, he is working in the analytics office on foreign audience research. On how the residency helped him, Lee said, “The residency got me to D.C and introduced me to some great people. Without NDSR I would not have made it this far.” Furthermore, Lee commented that the most interesting aspect of his job is “the opportunity to work with some very talented people on some truly global campaigns.”

Following the residency, Maureen McCormick Harlow accepted a permanent position as the new Digital Librarian at PBS (Public Broadcast Service). She works in the Media Library and her tasks include  consulting on the development of the metadata schema for an enterprise-wide digital asset management system, fulfilling archival requests for legacy materials and working with copyright holders to facilitate the next phase of a digitization project (which builds on the NDSR project of Lauren Work). Maureen stated that “NDSR helped her to foster and cultivate a network of digital preservationists and practitioners in the DC area over the nine months that I participated in it.” An interesting aspect of her job is working with the history of PBS and learning about PBS programming to see how it has changed over the years.

On an international scale, Heidi Elaine Dowding is currently in a three-year PhD Research Fellow position at the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences Huygens ING Institute. This position is funded through the European Commission. “My research involves the long-term publication and dissemination of digital scholarly editions, so aspects of digital preservation will be key,” said Heidi. On the best part of her position, Heidi said, “I am lucky enough to be fully funded, which allows me to focus on my studies. This gives me that opportunity to research things that I am interested in every day.”

Erica Titkemeyer is currently employed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the Project Director and AV Conservator for the Southern Folklife Collection. This position was created as part of a grant-funded initiative to research and analyze workflows for the mass reformatting and preservation of legacy audiovisual materials. “NDSR allotted me the opportunity to participate in research and projects related to the implementation of digital preservation standards. It provided me access to a number of networking events and meetings related to digital stewardship.” In her position, she hopes to help see improved access to the collections, while also having the opportunity to learn more about the rich cultural content they contain.

Given these success stories, the National Digital Stewardship Residency has proven to be an invaluable program, providing opportunity for real world practical experience in the field of digital preservation. Also, the diversity of host institutions and location areas across major U.S. cities gives residents the opportunity to build up an extensive network of colleges, practitioners and potential employers in diverse fields. Stay tuned for part two of this blog post which will showcase the remaining residents of the 2013-2014 Washington D.C cohort.

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