DigCCurr Institute 2015 Draws Digital Curation Professionals from Across the Country and the World

June 10, 2015

The “DigCCurr Professional Institute: Curation Practices for the Digital Object Lifecycle” summer session was held May 31-June 5 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The institute, which consists of the five-day summer session and a two-day follow-up session scheduled for January 2016, is designed to foster skills, knowledge and community-building among professionals responsible for the curation of digital materials.

The Institute’s nearly 20 participants came from near (Chapel Hill), far (Seattle, Colorado, and Texas) and very far (New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria), and represented organizations including university libraries, museums, and municipal archives. 

Elizabeth Charlton, an archivist at the Marist Archives in Wellington, New Zealand, said she was motivated to attend the DigCCurr Institute because of the opportunity to interact with the experts who conduct the lectures, labs, and discussions. DigCCurr instructors include Drs. Helen Tibbo, Cal Lee, and Kam Woods from the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), Dr. Nancy McGovern from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Carolyn Hank from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Dr. Lorraine Richards from Drexel University.

“You’re really learning from leaders in the field,” Elizabeth said. “The accumulation of the knowledge being shared is remarkable and the face-to-face communication is so valuable.”

Elizabeth said she also liked that participants leave with a six-month action plan. “I knew I wasn’t just going to listen to people speak and discuss how to do something, there was going to be an output at the end.”

Elizabeth is planning to use what she learned from the DigCCurr Institute to develop workshop materials focused on the care of digital records to help local archives and repositories providing community heritage services with practical guidelines for the conservation and administration of such records. Before coming to Chapel Hill, Elizabeth visited Emory University and Georgia Tech to learn about their digital archive endeavors, and after the Institute concluded, she was traveling to Washington, D.C., to meet with representatives from the Smithsonian Institution.

Mohamed Baessa, digital repository specialist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia, came to the DigCCurr Institute to learn the best approaches to manage the rapidly growing research outputs of the university’s students and faculty. The KAUST library’s efforts to digitally preserve and share research became even more important in the summer of 2014 when KAUST became one of the first universities in the region to mandate an open access policy.  

Mohamed said he was drawn to DigCCurr because of the instructors’ expertise and UNC’s strong reputation in the field.

“UNC is so well established with digital preservation,” Mohamed said. “I wanted to see how, at the organizational level, they approach preservation and learn about the tools that were created here or are being utilized here.”

Onyebuchi (Buchi) Ekpolomo, head of library services at the African University of Science and Technology in Nigeria, said that she was eager to attend the DigCCurr Institute because finding ways to provide long-term, continuous access to digital materials is so important.

“My university is small, offering postgraduate programs only, and our digital content is increasing, hence the need to acquire skills and training to better understand the concept of digital preservation,” she said. “Attending DigCCurr 2015 is the best thing that has happened to my career and my institution.”

Photos from top: DigCCurr Institute 2015 participants and instructors on the steps of Manning Hall. Participants discuss digital preservation issues in small working groups. Dr. Helen Tibbo delivers a lecture. Visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/uncsils/sets/72157652034661453 to see more photos.