In the twentieth century, most of the records produced by individuals, businesses and government agencies were paper. In the twenty-first century, we are living our personal and professional lives in digital spaces. As archivists committed to documenting our culture, we must find ways to capture those digital records. And in the fast-moving computer world, we need to intervene early in the life of documents or lose them forever. The Library of Congress recognized this need and founded the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) in 2010 to “establish, maintain, and advance the capacity to preserve our nation's digital resources.”
One of the initiatives of the NDSA is the National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) program which aims to “build a dedicated community of professionals who will advance our nation’s capabilities in managing, preserving, and making accessible the digital record of human achievement.” The first ten residents have been chosen by the Library of Congress, with their projects to begin in September. In addition to this pilot program, is the National Digital Stewardship Residency in New York (NDSR-NY). The program, to be run by the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) and the Brooklyn Historical Society will be funded by a grant from the 2013 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
In addition to extending and refining the NDSR in D.C., the three primary goals of NDSR-NY as described by the proposal abstract
1. Address the need for trained staff working to preserve digital materials within cultural heritage by training a new generation of digital stewards in the technical, conceptual, and practical competencies of digital stewardship
2. Increase institutional capacity for digital stewardship by meeting the need within the library, archives, museum community for new professionals with a mix of conceptual knowledge, hands on, practical skills, and workplace experience.
3. Develop a sustainable, extensible model for postgraduate residencies combining advanced training and experiential learning by working closely with current NDSR program management and a…concurrent NDSR implementation in the Boston area to refine and enhance the NDSR model, to ensure it is replicable and scalable for potential use nationwide
In short, over the three-year grant period, the NDSR-NY initiatives will create a core group of young professionals with the skills necessary to select and preserve digital materials; place those professionals in libraries, archives, and museums that have a growing need for those skills; and create a template for other training programs to follow. Resident recruitment for the NDSR-NY program is to begin soon with the first class of residencies scheduled for Summer 2014.