Monday, August 24, 2015

Staffing for Effective Digital Preservation

Staffing for Effective Digital Preservation. An NDSA Report. Winston Atkins, et al. National Digital Stewardship Alliance. December 2013.
     In 2012 most of the 85 organizations surveyed had no dedicated digital preservation department so preservation tasks fell to a library, archive, or other department. About half of respondents thought that the digital preservation function in their organizations was well organized.  Most organizations expected the size of their holdings to increase substantially in the next year with 20% expecting a doubling of content, and the majority were preserving under 50 TB. Images and text files were the most common types of content being preserved.

Almost 70% of organizations wanted to outsource digitization, and 43% wanted to outsource secure storage management. The library, archive or other department that stewarded the collections was responsible for digital preservation 73% of the time and 42% responded that it was an IT department,

Organizations would like to have twice as many FTEs as they currently had working on digital preservation activities. Their ideal number of FTEs for several roles would be:
  • Digital preservation manager: They had an average of .5, the ideal was 1
  • Electronic records archivist: They had an average of 1, the ideal was 2
  • Programer: They had an average of 1.5, the deal was 2.5
  • Content analyst / maintainer: They had an average of .5, the ideal was 3
According to the survey, 75% organizations retrained existing staff, 35% hired experienced digital preservation specialists, and 21% other options. Given the chance to hire a new digital preservation manager, organizations were asked to rank the relative importance of skills, knowledge and education. A passion and motivation for digital preservation and knowledge of digital preservation standards, best practices and tools were considered the most sought after skills, followed by general communication and analytical skills. Respondents were less concerned with the specific degrees or certificates people held, with the least important being a degree in computer science.

The survey also emphasized the importance of buy‐in from the entire organization and budget sustainability. “There is a general lack of understanding of the budgetary demands on digital collections and preservation that equal, and usually exceed, traditional collection development. The “lights‐on” cost are rarely, if ever, discussed or budgeted, thus digital libraries and preservation programs typically are funded with leftovers.”

The results of the Digital Preservation Staffing survey indicate that organizations are making do with what they have and generally think that their digital preservation programs and staffing are working well, but they feel a distinct need for more people to help do the work.

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