An Apprenticeship on Steroids: Preserving Digital Materials The Third

I was inspired to write this blog post thanks to New Cardigan’s Glam Blog Club October 2017 theme, “How I Ended Up Here”. When I saw the theme, I immediately thought: how did I end up co-writing a book, just a year after finally graduating from information management school? How did I get here? This post seeks to answer this question, and introduce a project I’ve been working on for the last year: a tome called Preserving Digital Materials (the third edition).

I am not a new professional in the strict sense of the phrase, having had a long-ish first career in television broadcasting. Writing the third edition of this book has been an apprenticeship on steroids – a great way to learn a lot about the important and exciting digital preservation field, in a very short time frame.

The short version of how I got here involves serendipity, luck, and perseverance. The perseverance part involved a meandering career change while still paying the bills with television work. I first studied teaching English as a foreign language, then professional writing, before settling on a Master of Information Management degree, with a lot of volunteering thrown in to help me best find my corner of the info universe. I love wrangling digital information, and I’ve always been fascinated by long-term thinking, so digital preservation is a perfect fit for me. As for serendipity and luck, one of my (many) volunteering gigs with the Australian Library Journal introduced me to then-editor Ross Harvey. When Ross was contemplating kicking off with the third edition of Preserving Digital Materials and looking for a co-author, I was in the right place at the right time. I was able to bring to the book different professional experience, and different ways of thinking – television is a colourful, competitive, and challenging world, with many transferable skills (collaboration and communication are two of the most immediate that come to mind).

The first two editions of this book were written by Ross. The first was based on interviews he undertook with Australian information professionals in the year 2005, thus it had a very national focus. The second edition in 2012 branched out further afield – it added various international projects and perspectives. It has been a fascinating experience, looking back over 17 years and seeing what has changed in the digital world – and what is still the same.

PDM3CoverThis third edition (to be published in March 2018 by US-based publisher Rowman & Littlefield) is an altogether different beast again. It has had a significant structural overhaul, and it is very internationally focussed. New stakeholders feature as a key focus, as digital preservation is no longer a niche area mainly of interest to cultural heritage institutions. New players are entering the scene and it is a welcome change, bringing many opportunities and also inevitable challenges. Initiatives such as International Digital Preservation Day from the Digital Preservation Coalition are increasingly publicly focussed, while still catering to the interests of traditional information organisations. Initiatives like these helpfully drive a positive digital preservation agenda to a wider range of people, and we have documented this changing paradigm in the book.

I very much hope this book is of use to both information professionals dealing with long-term management of digital materials, and others from different fields who are interested in learning more about the importance of stewarding digital materials into the future.

Another big thank you goes out to all my friends and family who put up with me during this process and are still hanging around. I promise one day soon I will have a social life again. Unless the fourth edition of this book needs writing a lot sooner than expected…

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Engaging with our future: the role of educators, practitioners, professional associations and employing organisations in the co-creation of information professionals

In this article for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal LIS educators Sue Reynolds, Bernadette Welch, and Mary Carroll investigate a passion-based approach to student learning. Their vision of enabling new information professionals by cultivating in them ‘passion, engagement, and citizenship’ is a bold and welcome one. They consider the shared role of library and information studies (LIS) educators, practitioners, employing organisations and the professional associations in the development of LIS graduates and new professionals.

Exploring alternative models for professional LIS

In this article for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Brenda Chawner and Gillian Oliver aim to stimulate discussion about whether the current structure of postgraduate library education, largely unchanged for over sixty years, is still the best option, given the ways in which professional library positions increasingly require specialised knowledge and skills.

Brenda and Gillian touch briefly on the history of training for librarians in education before discussing the changing nature of library work today, offering alternative models for LIS education to meet this changing landscape.

New Professionals’ Perspectives (3 of 3)

In her paper for the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Celia Drummond writes about diversity in the library profession (Embracing diversity: when is a librarian not a librarian?) and about using traditional library skills in non-traditional roles.

Celia argues that LIS educators should better showcase the wide range of roles in different sectors that are available to librarian-trained graduates.

New Professionals’ Perspectives (2 of 3)

In this article, Becoming a librarian: from Sydney to Hong Kong via a LIS degree, published in the last issue of the Australian Library Journal, Joanna Hare reflects on her personal journey to become a librarian, and on her first two years as one.

Jo shares the results of a brief survey of new librarians working in academic libraries in Hong Kong regarding their experiences of LIS education and first years in the profession, and concludes with some recommendations for other new librarians entering the workforce. She explains that although “Imposter Syndrome is a significant factor for all new librarians”, her journey has been successful because it has been based on learning by doing, and working outside her comfort zone.

New Professionals’ Perspectives (1 of 3)

In this paper, The new librarian’s roadmap: at the crossroads of expectation and reality, from the last issue of the Australian Library Journal (v. 65/4), Rebecca Dale provides a sobering view of some of the not-so-ideal stages of new librarian status, once the shiny excitement has worn off a little.

Rebecca’s travel romp journey details the formative years of a new librarian’s career trajectory, with a no-holds-barred look at different roadblocks along the way, such as “engine trouble” (using strategies that don’t pay off) and “potholes” (realising you’ve taken on the wrong job).