Nancy McGovern

Nancy McGovern

Last updated on 29 November 2017

Nancy McGovern is Director of Digital Preservation at MIT Libraries in the USA

International Digital Preservation Day got me thinking about this: what might be most helpful for the digital preservation community to be able to continue to grow in a sustainable, inclusive, and responsive way? Here is a brief, annotated wish list for the digital preservation community using four attributes of an emergent group, a sociological convention to enable a group to be identified and studied.

  1. Membership: members have a sense of belonging to the group and it is possible to recognize other members.

Background: There is a perception that the digital preservation community exists and is growing. So far, the best ways to indicate membership has been attendance conferences and meeting.

My wish: That we identify more and increasingly better ways to be able to “join” the digital preservation community, whatever that may come to mean.

  1. Interaction among members: members have opportunities to convene and have ways to inform and influence each other.

Context: iPres is the longest running international (it meets on a three-year rotation around the globe) conference that is devoted to digital preservation - 2018 will be the 15th anniversary for iPres, a wonderful milestone to celebrate! PASIG is an example of an ongoing digital preservation meeting that attracts international attendance. There are also national meetings that feature digital preservation; and there other meetings (e.g., IDCC, Open Repositories, and IS&T Archiving) that include digital preservation. Based on citations as one indicator, the proceedings and papers of these meetings inform and influence members of the digital preservation community.

My wish: That we develop ways to convene virtually and in-person to continue to foster the growth of the digital preservation community in ways that are scalable, inclusive, and useful.

  1. Goals shared by members: group members are able to identify, agree upon, and collaborate to address goals.

Context: Since the 1996 release of the Preserving Digital Information report, there have been a growing number of discussions within the emerging digital preservation community (e.g., at iPres conferences, at ANADP meetings) that tackle priorities, strategies, and overall direction.  The question of an international community for digital preservation that might parallel ICA or IFLA continues to emerge for consideration. We have conferences and meetings at which to convene, but no community-wide mechanisms for vetting developments with broad implications or forum to produce authoritative or common principles, definitions, or practice.

My wish: That we identify a representative and informed way to determine community-wide priorities, goals, and outcomes.

  1. Norms held by members: group members are able to develop, adopt, and help promulgate norms or rules to inform and guide individual and group actions.

Context: Over the past twenty years (and more), the digital preservation community has developed a foundation of good practice as reflected in increasingly comprehensive set of standards, community documents (e.g., Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities), and principles, as well as in our expanding array of informal and formal literature. Cumulatively, this documentation provides guidance for organizations and individuals, and sets expectations that evolve in response to technological change and shared experience.

My wish: That we maintain and expand our foundation of good practice and more systematically develop curriculum, tools, and messaging to raise awareness about digital preservation.

Source for this example of framework that defines attributes of an emergent community source: H. Andrew Michener, John D. DeLamater, and Daniel J. Myers, Social Psychology, Fifth Edition, (Belmont, CA, USA: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2004): 324.

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