Update: Results of Survey on Digital Preservation Training

Barrett Jones at the LOC writes:

Hi Michael- Thank you so much for posting the announcement for our survey back in October. Thanks to you and other dedicated librarians who spread the word, we received over 800 responses to our survey. I wanted to share some highlights from the results:

Findings from a Library of Congress Survey on Digital Preservation Training

What do U.S. organizations see as their needs with respect to digital preservation training?  How do they handle digital preservation functions now?  A new Library of Congress survey provides some answers to these questions.

The survey was conducted in summer and fall 2010 by the Library’s Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) initiative, which seeks to foster outreach, education, and collaboration nationwide to encourage organizations to preserve their digital content. The survey received 868 responses. Of the respondents, 40% were libraries, 34% were archives, 16% were museums. This should have read “40% were libraries, 34% were archives, 16% were museums. The rest consisted of state and local governments, corporations, nonprofit organizations, parks, and churches.

Among the survey’s major findings:

  • Just over half of the organizations who responded to the survey have less than 25 employees.
  • Only about one-third of respondents had full-time or part-time paid staff dedicated to digital preservation duties. One-half of respondents assigned digital preservation to various staff on an as-needed basis, one-fifth had no staff for this function, and one-tenth used volunteers (figures have been rounded off).
  • Among potential subject areas for digital preservation training, the most important area to respondents was technical training.  Management planning, project management, and strategic training all tied for second place.
  • The most preferred format for receiving training was small, in-person workshops.  Proximity was significant–onsite training was the first choice, with training within a 100-mile radius the second choice.
  • A half-day to a full day was the most preferred length for training.
  • Digital content holdings for almost 95 percent of respondents consisted entirely of digitized versions of already-held collections (typically, paper-based materials), and about 5 percent of holdings were “born digital” content.

Some general observations can be gleaned from the survey. Most organizations only work on digital preservation when it is needed; few devote a full-time staff member to such duties. Most are digitizing paper collections rather than preserving “born digital” data. Short sessions of practical training are most needed; training should be provided on-site because most respondents are small organizations with limited training budgets.

To read the executive summary of the survey and find out more about other DPOE activities, visit http://loc.gov/dpoe

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