Sharon McMeekin

Sharon McMeekin

Last updated on 4 November 2021

13th June 2021 was the 10th anniversary of my first day with the DPC, the point where I made the switch from practitioner to a focus on workforce development. Such a significant milestone has naturally led to time spent reflecting on years past and hopes for the future.

As with any experience in life, my decade with the DPC has brought a combination of highs, lows, and plenty places in between. But thankfully I can report that the highs massively outnumber the lows. In my family, our unofficial motto is that “it’s all about the stories” and I can say with all confidence that my time with the DPC have given me more interesting stories to tell than I could possibly count. So, overall, I think that my time with the organization has been a success.

Over the past ten years, I’ve been involved in many things that I feel proud of: the second edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook, the expansion of our Career Development Fund, the Getting Started and Making Progress roadshow series, and our student conference, to name a few. And I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear that the work we did on the Novice to Know-How (N2KH) learning pathway, on behalf of The National Archives (UK), is likely what I am most proud of.

There are also things I would do differently if given the chance: I would have started our journey into online training earlier, I would have liked to have had more time to support our members with their recruitment and professional development challenges, and I would have liked to find a way to increase further collaboration on digital preservation training to remove duplication of effort where possible….

Despite some regrets, I wouldn’t change my path to where I am now as the learning from each experience, good or bad, has helped improve my skills and expand my understanding of digital preservation and how to share information more effectively about it.

And better yet, the future looks promising. One of the most important things to happen for good in the last 10 years has been the addition to the DPC team of Amy Currie, our Training and Grants Manager, in January 2020. As well as being an awesome human being, Amy brings a skill set that compliments my own, and we now have the capacity to not only sustain our existing workforce development activities, but also to start to tackle the wish list I’ve been nurturing for years.

Currently, that involves a project to develop a new, flexible skills framework for digital preservation that aligns with the DPC Rapid Assessment model. The framework will act as a reference point for the skills needed to progress with digital preservation but will also offer tools help manage professional development at both individual and organizational levels. Also in the future, will be more online training to build on the foundation of N2KH, and a third edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook, which I hope to start by the end of Spring 2022.

Focusing on Workforce Development has obviously placed people at the forefront of my digital preservation experiences. Anyone who has heard me present will almost certainly have heard me say that people (definitely not technology) are the most important resource for digital preservation. And I feel privileged to have worked with so many of the truly outstanding and inspiring people of digital preservation, both at the DPC and from the community at large. From contributing to the POWRR project, through developing web archiving training in partnership with IIPC, to the collaborative development of N2KH with The National Archives (UK), and many more activities that I don’t have time to mention in a blog post. The people of digital preservation have been the highlight of my 10 years with the DPC.

Bringing together current/future work and excellent collaborations, I’d like to finish this blog post by mentioning the recently opened NDSA Staffing Survey, a project I’ve been contributing to over the last few months. The survey is designed to gain insight into current and ideal staffing for digital preservation programs. The data captured will allow us to gain an overview of the current landscape with regards to staffing, while also hopefully helping with advocacy for increased staffing levels and more time and resources for professional development. If you can, please do fill out the survey here:

Since this blog post is being published on World Digital Preservation Day, I can’t finish without mentioning a couple of the more fun things I’ve done in the last few years. My contributions to the growing canon of digital preservation parody songs. My first from WDPD 2019: “500 Files”, and my latest work of “art” for WDPD 2021: “Open Your Files”.

I hope to be writing a similar blog again 2031 after another decade at the DPC!

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