Illustration by Jørgen Stamp digitalbevaring.dk CC BY 2.5 Denmark

Introduction

 

A well-skilled and effective workforce can be an organisation's greatest asset, yet due care and attention is not always given to providing adequate training and development, and encouraging its uptake. Additionally, developing and maintaining a digital preservation programme can seem daunting in many ways and, in particular, this is often due to a perceived staff skills gap. This may be because the work environment is characterised by:

  • Rapid and ongoing change.
  • Blurring of boundaries within and between institutions.
  • Uncertainty in terms of the ability to confidently predict future trends and requirements.
  • Unclear and/or changing roles and responsibilities.
  • Increased emphasis on collaboration and teamwork.
  • Increased emphasis on accountability.

Carefully designed staff training and continuous professional development (CPD) activities can play a key role in successfully making the transition from the traditional model of libraries and archives to the digital or hybrid model. Intelligent training and development can do much to boost confidence and ability in staff members, and minimise anxiety about the changing nature of work in preservation-performing institutions. A thoughtful approach to training and development (as opposed to just "sending people on courses") is likely to make a significant difference by:

  • Helping staff to exploit technology effectively and improve the overall quality of service.
  • Enhancing the individual level of job satisfaction and commitment, leading to improved staff retention.
  • Improving the strategic outlook for the organisation as a whole.

Organisations should take a strategic approach to training and development, considering carefully the skills that are required, as well as new and developing roles and responsibilities. The issue should be clearly addressed in all relevant digital preservation policy, strategy and planning, and budget for advocacy and skills development activities should be an integral part of planning for digital preservation work.

 

A Broad Range of Skills

 

Successful digital preservation work requires a broad range of skills, from those specific to the area such as knowledge of metadata standards and audit frameworks, to more general skills such a project planning and risk management. Therefore, ensuring all staff members have adequate digital preservation-specific skills for their part of the process is only one aspect of the preparation required for equipping them to maximise the potential of digital technology. It is highly unlikely that one individual will ever possess all of the skills required to undertake the full range of digital preservation activities, so collaboration will remain key to success. Skilful training can enhance individual skills and competences but can also enhance understanding of the other skills and competences required for a successful collaborative project.

A number of different initiatives have endeavoured to clarify the skills and competencies required for digital preservation work and potential roles involved for staff at different levels of seniority:

DPOE

The Library of Congress's Digital Preservation Outreach and Education programme (DPOE) has defined three levels of staff roles (or career stages) within their model for digital preservation training. These are:

  • Executive - those in senior institutional management roles.
  • Managerial - those managing digital preservation programmes and service.
  • Practical - practitioners working hands-on with digital materials and preservation solutions.

DigCurV

The DigCurV project adapted the DPOE's three level model for their work in defining the core competencies required for digital preservation work. The DigCurV project examined a number of issues relating to digital curation and preservation training, skills and development, producing a variety of useful resources including a database of available training opportunities and a curriculum framework. Describing the core competencies required at each of the three levels in the DPOE model through a set of 'lenses', the DigCurV curriculum framework provides an excellent resource for those looking to identify the full range of skills and competencies required for digital curation and preservation. Specifically, the DigCurV curriculum framework can help users to describe and compare training courses, to develop new training resources and to map the skills and knowledge of an individual or team to identify any existing skills gaps.

Each lens is split into four sections covering

  • Knowledge and Intellectual Abilities
  • Personal Qualities
  • Professional Conduct
  • Management and Quality Assurance

Each then contain further sub-sections that list general statements about individual competencies. The statements are designed to be generic so have a broad applicability, although specific examples of particular standards or tools relating to the competencies are available via the version on the DigCurV website.

DigCCurr

The DigCCurr (Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation Curriculum) project has produced a 6-dimensional matrix for identifying and organizing the material to be covered in a digital curation curriculum. This Matrix of Digital Curation Knowledge and Competencies is an alternative approach that may be particularly useful for smaller organisations.

 

Roles and Responsibilities for Training and Development

 

Roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined. The success of training and development programmes will be affected by the degree to which various roles and responsibilities mesh. It is essential that each of the stakeholders in the process fully appreciate their roles and actively participate in the process. Listed below is a guide to the various responsibilities that may be required of different stakeholders to ensure the creation and deployment of a successful and comprehensive training and development programme.

Stakeholder roles and responsibilities

Roles and Responsibilities of the Institution

  • Developing an Information Strategy which integrates IT training with the overall mission of the institution.
  • Identifying, in consultation with key staff, a skills audit, to determine what specific competencies are required to meet organisational objectives, including horizon-scanning for new and emerging skills, activities and responsibilities.
  • Establishing a balance between recruiting specific skills and effectively developing existing talent.
  • Providing adequate resources for training and development.
  • Ensuring staff have access to appropriate equipment.
  • Ensuring access to practical "hands on" training and practice.
  • Encouraging networking between colleagues in other institutions.
  • Considering strategies such as short-term secondment to an institution which may have more experience in a specific area.
  • Involving staff in designing training and development programmes.
  • Facilitating effective multidisciplinary communication.
  • Taking a broad view of what constitutes training and development (i.e. combination of formal courses, both generic and tailor-made, informal training within the organisation, skills transfer within the organisation, networking etc.).

Roles and Responsibilities of Professional Associations

  • Responsiveness to current training and development needs.
  • Ability to work with institutions to develop training packages to meet their needs.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Individual

  • Ability to tolerate frequent change.
  • Ability to be flexible.
  • Ability to work in teams.
  • Ability to communicate (including listening) effectively across staff groups and upwards / downwards within the organisation.
  • Ability actively to pursue personal professional development through a range of mechanisms.
  • Ability to share skills and expertise.
  • Ability to learn new skills.
  • Ability to apply new skills.

 

Undertaking a Skills Audit

 

A useful starting point for any organisation is to conduct a skills audit tailored to the needs of the specific institution. The process will help identify any skills gaps that exist and allow informed decisions to be made about training and development, as well as potentially highlighting additional roles that may require new staff or new responsibilities (and new job descriptions) for those already in post. Evidence from the skills audit can then be used to build a business case for any additional resources that may be required. In addition to being an excellent starting point for improving staff development it may also be useful to incorporate elements of the process into regular staff professional development and review processes.

The DigCurV curriculum framework or the Matrix of Digital Curation Knowledge and Competencies can provide a useful tool when carrying out a skills audit, in this case as a resource for benchmarking. It will be necessary to tailor the audit to the staff development practices and processes of individual organisations but the following steps may be considered:

  1. Identify all roles within the organisation with digital preservation responsibilities. Examining workflows can help in this process and mapping these to models such as the OAIS Reference Model or the Digital Curation Centre Curation Lifecycle Model.
  2. Map roles to the relevant lenses of the DigCurV framework.
  3. Work with role holders to map skills to the relevant lens. This can be done variety of ways including self-assessment and as a group activity. It may also be useful to mark on a scale.
  4. Analyse results to identify gaps, training requirements and additional roles required.

 

Training and Development Options

 

A lack of established training and development opportunities was previously a considerable barrier to those wishing to learn more about digital preservation. While those at more advanced levels in their development may still struggle to find appropriate opportunities, there are now a number of established courses available to those at a beginner and intermediate level from short courses to full degree programmes including a variety of training opportunities addressing specific specialist areas of interest. A greater barrier is now the time and expense involved in attending face-to-face training, but increasingly more online and distance learning options are being made available so this impediment will also decrease.

Digital preservation courses have also previously suffered from criticism relating to an emphasis on theory rather than practice. This too is changing with more practical exercises and tool demos being incorporated into training. Digital preservation also remains a discipline where as much, if not more, can be learnt by doing, so peer to peer learning and a willingness to just get your hands dirty can often produce the best results. Information sharing and short staff exchanges with similar organisations can provide a particularly effect method for staff development and learning.

 

Resources

APARSEN Survey for the Assessment of Training Material/Assessment of Digital Curation Requirements

http://www.alliancepermanentaccess.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2012/12/APARSEN-REP-D43_1-01-4_1.pdf

This report presents the findings of research undertaken to in order to set the objectives and strategies for the development of training courses for digital preservation practitioners within the Network of Excellence. The aim of the research was to draw together a comprehensive picture of the digital preservation training that was then available and to identify the training needs of practitioners working within the field. (2012, 109 pages).

2014 DPOE Training Needs Assessment Survey

http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/education/2014_Survey_Report-Final.pdf

An analysis of the state of digital preservation practice and the capacity to preserve digital content within organisations in the United States with the aim of establishing training gaps and needs. (13 pages).

DigCurV, A Curriculum Framework for Digital Curation

http://www.digcurv.gla.ac.uk/

The DigCurV Curriculum Framework offers a means to identify, evaluate, and plan training to meet the skill requirements of staff engaged in digital curation. The DigCurV team undertook multi-national research in the Cultural Heritage sector to understand the skills used by those working in digital curation, and those sought by employers in this sector. The framework defines separate skills lenses to match the specific needs of three distinct audiences; Executives, Managers, and Practitioners.

  • The skills defined under the Executive Lens enable a digital curation professional to maintain a strategic view .
  • The skills defined under the Manager Lens enable a professional to plan and monitor execution of digital curation projects, to recruit and support project teams, and to liaise with a range of internal and external contacts within the cultural heritage sector.
  • The skills defined under the Practitioner Lens enable a professional to plan and execute a variety of technical tasks, both individually and as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

Matrix of Digital Curation Knowledge and Competencies

http://ils.unc.edu/digccurr/digccurr-matrix.html

The DigCCurr (Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation Curriculum) project has produced a 6-dimensional matrix for identifying and organizing the material to be covered in a digital curation curriculum.

Digital Preservation Outreach and Education

http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/education/curriculum.html

The Library of Congress's 'baseline' digital preservation training programme for archives and collections management staff. The full course is delivered to archives and other digital preservation professionals in a 'train the trainer' approach, in order to support further dissemination to colleagues. The overview videos are available online.

DPC Training

http://www.dpconline.org/training

A key role for the DPC is to empower and develop its members' workforces. The DPC addresses this issue by facilitating training and support activities and creating practitioner-focused material and events throughout each year. These include The DPC Leadership Programme, The Digital Preservation Roadshow, and The Member Briefing Days and Invitational Events.

Digital Preservation Training Programme (DPTP)

http://dptp.org

A range of UK based digital preservation training courses. Scheduled DPTP courses run over 2 days or 3 days and take place regularly throughout the year.

Digital Preservation Management: Implementing Short-Term Strategies for Long-Term Solutions

http://www.dpworkshop.org/

An excellent free online tutorial that introduces you to the basic tenets of digital preservation. It is particularly geared toward librarians, archivists, curators, managers, and technical specialists. It includes definitions, key concepts, practical advice, exercises, and up-to-date references. The tutorial is available in English, French, and Italian.

UK University post-graduate degree courses

http://www.dpconline.org/knowledge-base/training

The DPC maintains a list that will be helpful to anyone looking at post- graduate degrees with a focus on digital preservation. It includes University on campus and distance learning options. Some universities also offer individual credit bearing modules in relevant digital preservation topics.

Education and Training in Audio-visual Archiving and Preservation

http://www.arsc-audio.org/etresources.html

Training opportunities in Australia, Europe and the USA for those working with sound and moving image material.

Connecting to Collections: Caring for Audio-visual Material

http://www.connectingtocollections.org/av/

Self-paced course including recorded webinars, hand-outs, slideshows and suggested further reading for the individual student working with audio-visual material. It covers basic principles, a history of formats and their preservation challenges, format identification, access issues and an overview of existing models and standards. It is written in English by a team of US-based archivists, conservators and digital preservation experts.

How the DPC makes a difference to your staff

https://vimeo.com/45433968

Short interviews with 5 candidates who were sponsored by the Digital Preservation Coalition to attend the Digital Futures Academy in London in March 2012. They reflect on their experience and how joining the DPC has benefitted their institutions. (2 mins 40 secs)