Sharon McMeekin

Sharon McMeekin

Last updated on 3 November 2022

This blog post was co-authored by Jess Farrell, Educopia and the BCC, and Sharon McMeekin, DPC.


Happy World Digital Preservation Day! 


Today, the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and the BitCurator Consortium (BCC) are excited to announce the transition of the BCC’s Python Study Groups pilot to a program and a new benefit for DPC and BCC members hosted by the DPC.


The BCC Python Study Groups were launched in 2021 by Elvia Arroyo-Ramírez, David Cirella, Jess Farrell, Shira Peltzman, Dorothy Waugh, and Sara Day Thomson in response to  a conversation at the 2020 BitCurator Users Forum. Their primary goal was to create a welcoming study space that focused specifically on the cultivation of Python skills in order to support library and archives’ tasks and workflows, empowering practitioners to use Python in their everyday work. Many of us have attempted to learn coding languages independently using online resources, and many have reported that a lack of confidence and time has often derailed these efforts. The BCC Python Study Groups aimed to help overcome these obstacles by building intentional space to learn from each other regardless of where we were starting from.

The response to this idea was overwhelmingly positive, with 70+ eager learners and mentors who expressed interest in joining a study group across several different time zones. The startup coordinators had planned to launch one Python Study Group, but were faced with the reality that many more people were interested than could be accommodated in one group. They pressed on, developing resources that anyone could use to launch their own Python Study Group and truly amplify the idea. These resources included a template community agreement (each group was required to have one), loosely defined roles, an orientation that covered both leading and participating in the groups, a lesson to start with, and a sign up sheet for choosing a group based on time zone, skill level, or topic. From there, they launched the groups, grew the roster of startup coordinators to include everyone who stepped up to coordinate their own Python Study Group, and met quarterly to evaluate the pilot together. 

The PSG coordinators’ evaluation of the pilot revealed that more structure around the curriculum and further administrative support would be needed to sustain the groups and accommodate changes within groups over time. The PSG coordinators and BCC Executive Council agreed to seek a new host for the program and continue to build it with an external partner. Always impressed with the work that the DPC does, the BCC saw particular alignment between Workforce Development activities and this project, so they reached out about halfway through their evaluation to invite the DPC to join the conversation.

Everything the DPC does is driven by the needs of its members, and an increasing number have expressed the need for support in developing programming skills, particularly in relation to Python. When approached by the PSG coordinators about a possible collaboration in moving the pilot to a program, the response was a very easy “yes, please!”

The first step was the development of a proposal for the move from pilot to program, shaped by the lessons learned from the pilot. The proposal set out the main structure of the program, key aims, and the roles of the DPC and BCC moving forward. As suggested by the feedback, the existing learning materials would be further developed, and study groups would focus on using python to complete particular digital preservation tasks. Also, the main administration of the program would be transferred to the DPC, with the BCC contributing to oversight of the program and providing support for development of resources and plans. 

As before, all resources from the program will be available to the whole of the digital preservation community. For the study groups themselves, there will be priority places for BCC and DPC members as well as a limited number of places for those who are not currently members of these organizations. Study groups will also be held to suit a wide range of time zones.

This proposal has since been accepted by both organizations and work has begun on planning the process for the transfer from pilot to program. This process will carried out by three working groups:

  • The Admin Team, who will coordinate the transfer process, including producing the required administrative deliverables and infrastructures. 
  • The Content Team, who will assess and organize the existing learning materials gathered by the participants of the study group pilots and supplement this with new materials to produce a curriculum for the ongoing program. 
  • The Comms Team, who will work closely with the Content team to develop communication strategies, communication text, website copy, and timelines for launching the program and recruiting community members to join it. 


We welcome expressions of interest from anyone who would be willing to contribute to one of the above mentioned teams. A link to a sign-up form is included below. It is hoped that the transfer will be completed for a relaunch of the programme in late Spring 2023, with studying groups resuming in Summer 2023. 


Sign-up to participate in one of the transfer teams


About the BCC

The BitCurator Consortium (BCC) is an independent, community-led membership association that promotes sustainable curation of born-digital materials by any organization responsible for caring for such materials. The Consortium is building a community of organizations that support practitioners responsible for digital archiving and preservation work, especially through the application of free and open-source tools. Activity is conducted remotely and membership is open to all


About the DPC

The DPC is a membership organization, managed by a small team of full time staff and overseen by a Board of Directors appointed from our Full Members. Our vision is to build a welcoming and inclusive global community, working together to bring about a sustainable future for our digital assets. Our work spans advocacy, community engagement, workforce development, good practice and good governance. These actions create, empower, structure and extend a global community, working together for a sustainable digital legacy. 

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