Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Preparing the Workforce for Digital Curation

Preparing the Workforce for Digital Curation. The National Academies Press. 2015.  
This 105 page report focuses on the need for digital curation education and training in order to provide meaningful use of digital information, now and in the future.  [PDF version] This study defines digital curation as: “The active management and enhancement of digital information assets for current and future use.” Digital curation is more than preserving the digital information in secure storage because curation may add value to digital information and increase its utility.

Digital curation is similar to traditional curation. "Regardless of whether a collection is physical or digital, a curator must appraise its value and relevance to the community of potential users; determine the need for preservation; document provenance and authenticity; describe, register, and catalog its content; arrange for long-term storage and preservation; and provide a means for access and use." But it also has many new challenges: the quantities of material to be curated, the need for active and ongoing management, continually changing uses and technology, and the diversity of organizational contexts in which curation occurs. It is more than simply collecting and storing data and information. Active management denotes planned, systematic, coordinated, purposeful, and directed actions that make digital information fit for a purpose. And to ensure that digital information will remain discoverable, accessible, and useable for as long as users have a need and a right to use it.

A new pattern of data usage puts a greater emphasis on the standardization of digital curation practices so that the data can be shared more easily.  Archiving digital data requires a more active management approach, and a more collaborative partnership between producers, archivists and users.

The Loss of Cultural Heritage Through Deterioration of Records and Technological Change: Sound recordings are a striking example of cultural heritage data at high risk of loss. These include music, oral histories, and radio broadcasts preserved in a wide variety of formats and media.

Some benefits of digital curation include:
  • Increased collaboration and cost sharing;
  • Greater use of data in teaching and research training;
  • New opportunities and uses for data, including data mining;
  • Creation of a more complete record of research;
  • Creation of new areas of research, new industries, or new support services.
Some principal conclusions:
  1. Significant opportunities exist to embed digital curation deeply into an organization’s practices to reduce costs and increase benefits. Digital curation will be increasingly in demand across many sectors of society.
  2. Digital curation can be advanced by various organizations that can serve as leaders, models, and sources of good curation practices, and build trust by preserving assets.
  3. Some barriers to digital curation include: lack of sharing of resources and insufficient resources.
  4. There is a need to identify, segregate, and measure the costs of curation tasks in scientific research and business processes.
  5. Standards and existing practices vary greatly, which can lead to a lack of coordination across different sectors. This in turn can lead to limited adoption of consistent standards for digital curation and fragmented dissemination of good practices.
  6. Automation of at least some digital curation tasks is desirable
  7. The knowledge and skills required of those engaged in digital curation are dynamic and highly interdisciplinary.
Some recommendations include:
  1. Research communities, educational institutions, and others should work together to develop and adopt digital curation standards and good practices.
  2. Work to identify and predict the costs associated with digital curation.
  3. Organizations should identify, explain, and measure the benefits derived from digital curation

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