Nancy McGovern

Nancy McGovern

Last updated on 26 November 2018

Nancy McGovern is Director of Digital Preservation at MIT Libraries

I love what I do! My role combines research, instruction, and practice and has since I started at Cornell as the Digital Preservation Officer in 2006 - that means by design I never have to stop doing what I am doing to work on what I want to do, which is amazing.

A portion of my position is devoted to community building and leadership roles, which is my passion and usually combines all three – research, instruction, and practice. For the past two years, I have been devoting much of my community energy to co-hosting the International Digital Preservation (iPres) 2018 conference this year in Boston! We had more than 400 attendees from 32 countries plus a lot of people tuned in from wherever there were. We celebrated the 15th anniversary of iPres and framing the conference around the overall theme of: “where art and science meet: the art in science and the science in art.” In addition, we embraced the principles of inclusion in all the ways we could – organizers, presenters, attendees, and virtual followers. We had a number of firsts for iPres: the first Code of Conduct for an iPres conference - we added the response framework and moderator guidelines with active coordination before and during the conference; the first digital poster session; the first open and comprehensive conference documentation using the Open Science Framework (OSF) – final version coming in December; and tuition support for 28 underrepresented students and first-time attendees (sponsored by Portico – thanks again!). We organized a dedicated track of ad hoc programming including; two full sessions of amazing lightning talks, the first digital preservation gameroom (three board games and one card game - so much fun!), original digital preservation images (four entries), and two tutorials. A highlight for me during the conference was beginning the community discussion of storytelling and digital preservation as a way to convey the significance and context of complex digital content to the future – some wonderful colleagues joined the panel with me for that: Jessica Meyerson, Jimmy Fournier, and Darold Cuba – and I’m looking forward to continuing that discussion. One outcome of iPres 2018 I’m really proud of is the effort I’m co-chairing an iPres Working Group with Seamus Ross and a small working group (volunteers to be invited soon!) to review the iPres steering committee charter, seek broad community feedback, and share recommendations by next year. We had two 15th anniversary panels (one considering accomplishments plus remaining challenges and the other looking ahead to the next 15 years of iPres) and organized an open house for the iPres community, both of which informed the establishment of this iPres Working Group. I’m very pleased that iPres 2018 was successful in all the ways we hoped. Some of what we tried and achieved will continue and there are new things each time – already looking forward to iPres 2019!

The practice side of my role has both internal – developing the digital preservation program at MIT Libraries – and external aspects. At the Libraries, the big focus lately for digital preservation is the Comprehensive Digital Preservation Storage initiative that just got to its next phase with steps towards implementing (some slides from the iPres 2018 workshop will be up in OSF soon). This one ties to external efforts: the Digital Preservation Storage Criteria, working with a great group for the past three years since the first digital preservation storage community discussion we convened at iPres 2015 plus workshops at iPres 2016-2018, and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) Levels of Preservation revision effort – both are really important for the digital preservation community and very timely as digital preservation practice and services evolve.

Since the late 80s, I have been committed to continuing education curriculum for digital curation and preservation. Currently for the instruction part of my role, I’m working with Educopia on Sustaining Digital Curation and Preservation Curriculum and starting to work with the Rare Book School on digital programming – I identify as a continuing educator and both of these are rewarding efforts. I’m a fan of DigCurV – so glad to see that Laura Molloy was talking about it at IDW!

For me, digital preservation management involves practice-based research and research-based practice. In addition to ongoing work with our Digital Sustainability Lab at MIT Libraries, I’m spending a lot of effort on building capacity and encouraging inclusive digital practice through my work on Radical Collaboration for digital practice. We are expecting a special issue of Research Library Issues (RLI) on radical collaboration with contributors from a range of domains to be out soon, and Cliff Lynch and I will be engaging in a discussion at IDCC 2019 on “Digital Practice and Collaboration: A Community Dialog about Opportunities and Struggles” – we are hoping community members will share questions they’d like to have discussed.

Those are some highlights to share with you for World Digital Preservation Day, the best day of the year – hope you’re all enjoying the celebration!

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