Sharon McMeekin

Sharon McMeekin

Last updated on 4 November 2019

At iPRES this year I presented a (rapid fire!) paper sharing my thoughts on the current state of digital preservation workforce development. The headlines were:

  • We need to be more confident in saying we are a profession in our own right.
  • There’s been some amazing work done but it is most often siloed and suffers from limited funding, both of which lead to limited reach.
  • The workforce is maturing, and so training must also.
  • People want practical, hands-on training covering issues like tools, metadata and workflows.
  • Some of the foundational resources (particularly the wonderful DigCurV framework) are getting a bit creaky and could do with updates.
  • There are significant barriers for those wanting to attend training: in particular a lack of options, limited funding, no managerial support, and difficulty getting time away from the office.

MeetingTrainingNeedsAs part of my paper presentation I decided to test a few of these conclusions by polling the conference attendees. After some wrangling with the polling tool Mentimeter, and a minor crisis of confidence about whether do this during a presentation of just 10 minutes was a good idea, I went into my session armed with my three questions:

  1. Are you able to meet your organizations’ DP training needs?
  2. What are your biggest barriers to accessing training?
  3. What DP topics would you like to see covered by training?

Thankfully iPRES attendees are a good lot and I got 103 responses for the 1st question, 90 for the second and 60 (with multiple answers) for the last.BarriersToTraining

On the subject of being able to meet training needs 80 attendees (78%) said they were only partially able or unable to fulfil their training needs. This echoed my own thoughts (phew!) with the trend perhaps even worse than I imagined. This carried on into the second question. The lack of suitable training was voted the biggest barrier to accessing training, closely followed by difficulties in making time to undertake courses. So again, we see the need for more training, and also training that will fit into increasingly busy work schedules.

Finally, on the issue of what topics they would like training to cover, the full range of digital preservation considerations were mentioned, from starting out to ‘business as usual’, and from organizational issues to those with a more technological/process focus. Overall, training on formats, metadata, tools, and workflows/processes were the most popular.

TrainingTopics WordCloudV2The answers to these questions clearly show the appetite for more and diverse training opportunities in digital preservation. And, while it’s nice to get vindication, it’s also shows there’s a lot of work ahead! There are some amazing new resources on the horizon, and I can’t wait to see them let loose. I’m also always keen to lend support where I can, share DPC resources, or partner on new endeavours. So, my message for World Digital Preservation Day 2019, is "let's work together (and feel alright?)"

If you’re interested in digital preservation workforce development, hit up my inbox [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]  or catch me on Twitter [@SharonMcMeekin] and let’s work together!

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