Prior to entering SILS in the fall of 2002, I had only a vague idea of the direction that my career might ultimately take. I had very little traditional library or archive experience (my background was in the
music industry), but was fairly certain that I wanted to apply my musical interests to become either a Music Librarian or a Music Archivist (I wasn't too clear on the difference before SILS!). I started my SILS education with a concentration in traditional archival practice, but became increasingly interested in how these practices were being applied to materials in the digital environment.
Despite starting at SILS after the excesses of the dot.com bust, I perceived that there were still exciting opportunities in the convergence of new technologies and information science, and that librarianship could capitalize on this convergence and continue to expand its traditional role to become a central node in this ongoing information revolution. That perception has proved to be absolutely true.
Not having a predefined outcome made me a more exploratory learner at SILS, and I found ample opportunities to pursue a range of interests. I obtained a broad baseline of knowledge through my early coursework, and SILS effectively allowed me to structure my own curriculum through a merging of courses from both the library and information science paths. I also developed my own independent study course, and drew on courses from the regular UNC curriculum.
I secured an internship at ibiblio, the pioneering digital library housed in the SILS building (Manning Hall) and integrated into the SILS program. This internship engaged me deeply with the world of open source software, and provided a highly stimulating laboratory environment for my continued immersion in technical issues.
This range of experiences eventually acquainted me with the emerging field of Digital Preservation. Digital Preservation incorporates elements from computer science, library and information science, economics, public administration and law to find solutions to one of the most significant current international information issues: How do we ensure that the vast amounts of significant cultural information being created today in digital form will survive for future generations?
This field was perfect for my diverse interests, and the skills I acquired at SILS fully prepared me for the challenges involved. I currently work as a Digital Archivist for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) at the Library of Congress. The NDIIPP program coordinates more than $100 million in funding appropriated by Congress in 2000 to identify solutions to pressing digital preservation issues.
"Digital Archivist" is an evocative, though somewhat nebulous, term that encompasses a full range of technical and policy activities that support the mission of the Library. Here’s a few of things that “digital archivist” entails for me:
• Program Officer on the GeoMAPP and MSTA projects
• Library representative to the ISO 19005 (PDF/A) working group
• Co-chair of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Outreach Working Group
• Blogger on The Signal, NDIIPP’s blog (http://blogs.loc.gov/digitalpreservation/)
• Webmaster for DigitalPreservation.gov
• Participant in the Library’s Digital Preservation Criteria Working Group
• Participant in the NDIIPP Communication Team
• Heavy social media responsibilities on NDIIIPP’s Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/digitalpreservation) and Twitter (@ndiipp) properties
• Participation in the FGDC’s Users/Historical Data Working Group (http://www.fgdc.gov/organization/working-groups-subcommittees/hdwg/index_html)
• Digital geospatial data preservation subject-area reference
• And more! Never a dull moment…