Grant extends Educating Stewards of the Public Information Infrastructure project

June 23, 2011


Dr. Helen TibboDr. Helen Tibbo, distinguished alumni professor at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC at Chapel Hill), has been awarded a grant for $897,449 in the category "Programs to Build Institutional Capacity" from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The grant will fund the "Educating Stewards of the Public Information Infrastructure (ESOPI2)" project, an extension of the successful  ESOPI-21 project. The three year project (2011-2014) is expected to further develop model graduate curriculum and intensive internship opportunities for the curation and stewardship of digital public information as well as conduct continuing education for government information professionals. It builds on the School of Information and Library Sciences’ (lead partner) DigCCurr, DigCCurr II, and ESOPI-21 projects, and its existing dual degree programs with UNC’s School of Government and Digital Curation Certificate.

"This is really exciting," said Tibbo. "Not only does this funding support the education of individuals who will go out and help government agencies at all levels to create and implement better information technology and public documents policies, it also allows us to strengthen our ties with the UNC School of Government."

Dr. Christopher (Cal) Lee, associate professor at SILS, is the co-principal investigator of the ESOPI2 project. He was also co-PI on the ESOPI-21, DigCCurr, DigCCurr II and the Closing the Digital Curation Gap project and he is delighted about the new project.

"There is a great need for information professionals with the ability to negotiate both the policy and public service arenas," said Lee. "ESOPI2 is a terrific opportunity to further advance the preparation of such professionals."  

The grant will provide funding for one doctoral student and ten dual-degree students, providing each dual-degree student with both a Master of Library/Information Science degree and a Master of Public Administration degree.

Problem & Audience:

Curation of digital assets remains a central challenge of the early 21st century. Nowhere is
the need for stewardship of digital content greater than with the management and long-term preservation of government information. Government archivists and records managers must manage and preserve records of governmental activities, decisions, and responsibilities as well as legal contracts at the local, county, state and federal levels; increasingly these materials are created, used and stored digitally.
ESOPI2, a collaboration of SILS and UNC’s School of Government, the project offers internships hosted at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Archives and Records Section, UNC at Chapel Hill Libraries' University Archives and Records Management Services, the Town of Chapel Hill's Department of Communications and Public Affairs and the Environmental Finance Center at the UNC School of Government.

The overall goal of the project is to increase the digital curation workforce, focusing on the stewardship of public information and the integration of public policy with information technology solutions and workflows. Intended results fall into four categories:

  1. Enhancing network building within and across digital curation, electronic records, public information, information science and digital archiving at the local, state, national and international levels;
  2. Continuing with ongoing development of a sustainable curriculum, coursework and experiential components concerning public information stewardship, building from current dual degree programs between SILS and SOG and the SILS Digital Curation Certificate;
  3. Developing continuing education programs for practicing stewards of public information, building from the DigCCurr Professional Institute and the ESOPI-21 symposia.
  4. Providing support for ten dual degree students who will help to develop and test courses and internships and conduct related research, and supporting one Ph.D. student who will assist in managing the project and conducting related research;
  5. Growing public awareness of digital curation, electronic records management, digital archiving and digital public information management issues and challenges through symposia and other outreach activities.

Through the ESOPI2 project, Tibbo will continue to foster a growing and evolving network of national and international experts, students at the master’s and Ph.D. levels, and faculty. In addition to recruiting and graduating dual-degree Fellows that will eventually move into the public information sector, she hopes to augment and sustain a curricular framework, courses, internships and a research platform for the education of current and future students along with developing low-cost continuing education opportunities for practitioners.

Along with special presentations and published works, to help increase awareness of digital curation and the challenges of the stewardship of public information, two symposia will be planned. Watch for more information about these events on the SILS Web site.