Library of Congress article hails Dr. Helen Tibbo Digital Preservation Pioneer

October 18, 2011

TibboJust a few days after Dr. Helen Tibbo, alumni distinguished professor at the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, served as one of the expert instructors and content developers educating new trainers in the Library of Congress' first national train-the-trainer workshop on teaching digital preservation, The Signal - Digital Preservation publication of the Library of Congress published an article titled, "Digital Preservation Pioneer: Helen Tibbo."    

The article describes Dr. Tibbo's historical background including her descendants Miles Standish and John Alden who came to America on the Mayflower, to her days of teaching junior high school, to her current work teaching and researching at SILS as well as her activities with the Society of American Archivists as immediate past president. The article also mentions when she began teaching digital preservation and access.

"In 2000 she started teaching Digital Preservation and Access, one of the first college courses of its kind in the world. A lot has happened since then and the class has evolved a great deal but the core assignment hasn’t changed: students have to produce a grant proposal to send to the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In the process, students get exposed to a real-world digital-curation environment."

Also highlighted is her research, including grants "where she has been PI, have brought in over $5 million to SILS and have produced a framework for digital curation curricula. One of the most powerful is the IMLS-funded Digital Curation Curriculum project, also known as DigCCurr (pronounced “dij – seeker”), which defines what digital curators do and what they need to know in the 21st century. DigCCurr’s curriculum applies to international digital curation."

Tibbo describes the future of digital curation, which she believes looks good for those who are choosing digital archiving as a career choice.   

“Our generation has done a lot of thinking about digital curation,” said Tibbo. “The next generation will do the work. And make great strides. They will be the real pioneers.”

"We all recognize Helen as a trailblazer in digital curation and preservation here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and other institutions around the world," said Dr. Gary Marchionini, SILS dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor. "The body of work she has completed is impressive and we're pleased that the Library of Congress recognizes her vision and talents in this profile. She is also the perfect person to educate future leaders in the field of digital preservation and outreach." 

The Digital Preservation Outreach and Education Program

The Library of Congress launched a new corps of digital preservation trainers through its Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) program on September 20-23, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The intent of the DPOE Baseline Workshop was to produce a corps of trainers who are equipped to teach others, in their home regions across the U.S., the basic principles and practices of preserving digital materials. Examples of such materials include Web sites; e-mail messages; digital photos, music and videos; and official records.

The 24 students in the workshop are professionals from a variety of backgrounds who were selected from a nation-wide applicant pool to represent their home regions, and who have at least some familiarity with community-based training and with digital preservation.

George Coulbourne, executive program officer in the Library's Office of Strategic Initiatives, commented, "Dr. Tibbo has been a strong supporter of DPOE since its inception, and has contributed to the program in an advisory capacity as well. She brought the same level of commitment and expertise, from her long experience in digital preservation education, to this workshop and to the module that she taught." 

Other educators who joined Tibbo in instructing the students included subject matter experts:

  • Nancy McGovern, Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan
  • Robin Dale, LYRASIS
  • Mary Molinaro, University of Kentucky Libraries
  • Katherine Skinner, Educopia Institute and MetaArchive Cooperative
  • Michael Thuman, Tessella

The curriculum was developed by the DPOE staff and expert volunteer advisors and informed by DPOE-conducted research, including a nation-wide needs-assessment survey and a review of curricula in existing training programs. An outcome of the September workshop will be for each participant to, in turn, hold at least one basic-level digital-preservation workshop in his or her home U.S. region by mid-2012.

The intent of the workshop was to share high-quality training in digital preservation, based upon a standardized set of core principles, across the nation.  In time, the goal is to make the training available and affordable to virtually any interested organization or individual.


Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to the Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized Web site at

The Library created DPOE  in 2010.  Its mission is to foster national outreach and education to encourage individuals and organizations to actively preserve their digital content, building on a collaborative network of instructors, contributors and institutional partners. The DPOE Web site is: