Nancy McGovern

Nancy McGovern

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Nancy McGovern is the Director of Digital Preservation at MIT.

This year’s theme - Digits: For Good – is great! It’s always fun to work on a WDPD blog post. There are so many examples of collaboration within and beyond the digital preservation community. Working together is part of what we do, yet it often seems to be more intentional and valued in 2020.

The 2020 WDPD topic got me thinking about preserving digital content in a way I haven’t in a while. I have worked as a digital archivist and then as a digital preservation manager. As a digital archivist in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I found appraisal to be a very engaging activity and yet by the time I felt I knew enough to make a decision about keeping the digital content or not, I found it hard to not take the content – I inevitably got fond of it as I came to understand it. Working on digital preservation is more agnostic about content for me – if digital content needs to be preserved, I’m in! The examples I’m sharing are not about preserving specific material, they are more about sustaining community and building capacity to be able to preserve whatever needs to be preserved “for good – or at least for as long as required” – love that part of the Blog theme for WDPD.  Here are some of the recent activities that I’m highlighting.

As a follow-on activity after the completion of version 2 of the NDSA Levels of Preservation, I have had a lot of fun working on training, outreach, and advocacy materials with DPC’s Jen Mitcham and Sharon McMeekin – I hope we can find another thing to work on after we share what we’ve been working on for the NDSA Annual Meeting on 12 November. It’s a bonus to have the Levels in the running for the Collaboration category of the DPC awards. The Levels revision was the most successfully collaborative project I’ve work on and a pleasure to be part of.  You can find all things to do with the Levels here:

Just before WDPD, our Beyond the Repository toolkit launched. For almost two years, the project team has been working on ways to help organizations and individuals figure out how to optimize their use of distributed digital preservation (DDP) tools. So far, the results have gotten a great response and people are finding it to be useful based on workshops and feedback. You can find the toolkit here:

The biggest thing that happened locally for me this year was the launch of MIT Libraries’ Comprehensive Digital Preservation Services (CDPS): in June after a multi-phase project that brought together domains from across the Libraries and campus. We used the DP Storage Criteria:, another collaborative community project that is a joy to work on, as a frame for the project. We have shared our process and results in hopes that will be helpful to others who are working on similar efforts. The DP Storage Criteria submitted a paper to a special volume on preservation storage and curation strategies. 

I had a chance this year to bring together two favorite things: building on radical collaboration: as a way to work together on common objectives across domains and disambiguating digital archives and digital preservation so each can be specialized to leverage all of our strengths. The resulting essay will appear in a forthcoming volume next Fall: “Digital Archive and Preservation Framework (DAP),” The Handbook of Archival Practice. Edited by Patricia C. Franks. (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2021) - in the meantime, I’m hoping there will be opportunities for community discussion to explore how these core components work together. The Swiss Research Data Day (#SRDD2020) provided an opportunity for me to combine those two – radical collaboration and the digital archives and digital preservation (DAP) framework – applied to research data management: The organizers plan to share the proceedings from the conference. The follow up from the attendees in the Swiss research community was really encouraging and thoughtful, and I’m hoping to continue that discussion as well.

The digital preservation community is full of amazing, talented, and generous colleagues who are individually and together rising to the challenges of COVID-19 to advance good practice, preserve important digital content, and sustain each other. Hope you’re all enjoying your WDPD celebration! One of the best days of the year and particularly welcome in 2020. Each WDPD shares such a wonderful array of creative, generous, and humorous festivities from around the world!

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