Digital Preservation Training: From First Steps to Trainers

Amy Currie

Amy Currie

Now that you have made the case for digital preservation at your organization, and you have taken the first steps to get to know your data, assess your organization’s readiness, and implement ways to secure your digital content through bitstream preservation—what’s next?

The next step is looking for ways to improve the skills of you and your team through training and development!

What is digital preservation training and why is it so important?

A well-skilled workforce can be an organization’s greatest asset, yet due care and attention is not always given to providing adequate training and development in digital preservation.

Simply put, digital preservation training is about learning and developing the skills necessary for effective digital preservation. This effectiveness is achieved through the improved skillsets of the individuals and teams within an organization.

Digital preservation training often involves both teaching and practical hands-on exercises. In some ways, it is like training for a hurdling race, where you undertake exercises regularly to keep fit, build endurance, and prepare for hurdles you will face along the way.

In other more significant ways, digital preservation training is more complex and challenging because:

  • There is no finish line – digital preservation has no endpoint (there is no point where digital content has been preserved; digital content is always in a state of being preserved)
  • Every hurdle is different – the best approaches, methods, and tools for digital preservation activities are context-dependent

Digital preservation requires a long-term commitment to learning and development because it is always in a constant state of technological and organizational change. It is important to emphasize that digital preservation training should be an ongoing process—it should not end after attending a course or completing practical exercises.

Digital preservation training activities can make a significant difference by:

  • Helping staff to exploit technology effectively and improve the overall quality of service
  • Enhancing the individual level of job satisfaction and commitment, leading to improved staff retention
  • Improving the strategic outlook for the organization as a whole

As an individual and member of a team, the continued development of your knowledge and abilities through digital preservation training is a crucial part of your digital preservation journey. It keeps you informed, familiar, and confident with the new developments and tools in digital preservation so that you can effectively implement and manage them. It is also a way to meet and learn from others in the digital preservation community who are undertaking similar hurdles themselves.

How do I pick the best training for me and my team?

The answer to this question returns to the invariably common refrain of “it depends…” because it really does depend on the context of your organization!

Your organization should take a strategic approach to training, carefully considering the skills that are required as well as new and developing roles and responsibilities. This should be clearly addressed in all relevant digital preservation policy, strategy and planning, and budgeting for advocacy and skills development activities should be an integral part of planning for digital preservation work.

To help with this strategic approach, the following resources may be useful:

What kind of training opportunities are out there?

Training comes in many forms such as courses, programmes, workshops, tutorials, briefing days, and events. Below are some examples that come to mind:

What if we do not have the funds or resources?

Finally, it is important to address that while there is a great need and demand for specialist digital preservation training and development opportunities, there are also costs to provide and deliver them. To help with this, the Digital Preservation Coalition along with other professional organizations and funding bodies offer scholarships and grants to support digital preservation training and development opportunities.

Amy Currie, Training Officer, Digital Preservation Coalition