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Helen Tibbo - Learning Resources

Helen Tibbo
Alumni Distinguished Professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Interviewed 5/30/2012

In this video, Helen Tibbo touches on a wide range of areas in digital curation, including how a conference workshop on dealing with digital cultural heritage materials back in 2000 became her “transformative moment,” helping to develop standards and best practices for digitization for cultural heritage professionals, the DigCCurr’s International Digital Curation Curriculum, the Digital Curation Lifecycle Model, ISO 16363 standard on the audit and certification of trustworthy digital repositories and DataNet and big science data. Tibbo also shares the unique combination of skills that students can develop to ensure that they will be in demand as new professionals in digitization.

“If you have those digital skills and you have good communication skills so that you can talk to the people who don’t have the digital skills. And you can talk to the content creators and the content users and be that person in the middle. Very few people can pull that off, those—that’s the combination.”

“Having enough technology to be able to bridge between the people who have not enough—people who are going to be the programmers. You’re probably not going to be the programmers, but you have to have enough to be in that middle spot. And there are so few people who can actually do that, you will have a job.”

Attend conferences
You may have a “transformative moment” at a workshop or session that affects your career trajectory.

Helen Tibbo attended a conference in 2000 at Rice University and her “transformative moment” was a workshop on dealing with digital cultural heritage materials held by the Humanities Advanced Technology Information Institute at Glasgow. This led to her teaching a semester-long class at UNC-CH in 2000, which then developed into week-long institutes in 2002-2004.

Archiving: From physical to digital collections
The physical materials – the actual handling of and working with tactical objects -- have long attracted people to collections. And we have legacy content, which archivists need to know how to preserve.

“But going forward, all of our new content is probably going to be digital. We have to be able to deal with that.”

“You can have great material in a digital format, but somehow there’s a different relationship we have with it, perhaps.”

Not much distinction between digital and “born digital”
“Once something is digital, it’s digital. It doesn’t make any difference. The bits are the bits. So to me, a digitized item and a born-digital item are the same thing once the work becomes digital.”

“Digital Curation”
Digital curation is not just digital preservation. It includes the preservation component as well as the access.

Funding your institutional repository
When trying to sell your institutional repository to university funders, you need to sell “who are the users of this content going to be, and what’s the exciting content, who’s going to have access to it.”

Use standards
Use standard formats since they are the most supported formats that allow for maximum use and reuse; “rogue software is not a good thing for preservation.”

How funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is used for scientific data
In the past: “I’m Historian A and I go into the archive and I read the papers, I read the papers, I write my book, the book goes in the library, but there’s no data that goes back into the repository. And then Historian B comes and uses those same archival materials and writes his book.”
Today: “Scientist A creating content that goes into the repository and Scientist B actually uses that scientific data.”

DataNet: Sustainable Digital Data Preservation and Access Network Partners
DataNet looks at science data, interoperability and cyber infrastructure for big data in science. Dr. Tibbo’s team at UNC is looking at the data user needs of hydrologists and ocean scientists

About DataNet: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503141
“This solicitation addresses that challenge by creating a set of exemplar national and global data research infrastructure organizations (dubbed DataNet Partners) that provide unique opportunities to communities of researchers to advance science and/or engineering research and learning.”

See What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts) including UNC’s DataNet Full Proposal: DataNet Federation Consortium

The Digital Curation Centre (DDC)
“So there are lots of different digital curation lifecycle models, but if you look at the one from the Digital Curation Centre in the UK, it has all the right assets.”

From http://www.dcc.ac.uk/about-us
“The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) is a world-leading centre of expertise in digital information curation with a focus on building capacity, capability and skills for research data management across the UK's higher education research community.”

DigCCurr (say dij-seeker)
http://ils.unc.edu/digccurr/index.html
DigCCurr: Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation Curriculum
DigCCurr focuses on building graduate-level curricular frameworks to prepare students to work in the 21st century environment of trusted digital and data repositories, symposia and a professional institute for practitioners.
DigCCurr I: Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation Curriculum developed an openly accessible graduate-level curriculum to prepare students to work in the field of digital curation.
DigCCurr II: Extending an International Digital Curation Curriculum to Doctoral Students and Practitioners furthers the work of DigCCurr I.

The DCC’s The Digital Curation Lifecycle Model
The Digital Curation Lifecycle Model “has all the right assets” from inception of the digital object and the design of the content, to the curator working with the researchers to advise on file formats, to metadata creation and how to make it useful for reuse.

“In the digital world, what we know is that decisions made about the creation of content -- the early curation by the content creator, the early management of that content -- will vastly influence whether or not we are ever able to preserve it.”
“The likelihood that we are ever able to preserve something is increased if the archivist and the preserver work with the content creator.”

The Digital Curation Lifecycle Model
“Our Digital Curation Lifecycle Model provides a graphical, high-level overview of the stages required for successful curation and preservation of data from initial conceptualisation or receipt. The model can be used to plan activities within an organisation or consortium to ensure that all of the necessary steps are covered – and that the process is completed in the correct order.”
-- See page 8 of The Digital Curation Centre: A new phase, a new perspective Retrieved from http://www.dcc.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/publications/dcc-phase-3v3.pdf

ISO 16363
ISO 16363 is the international standard that lays out what constitutes a trustworthy digital repository.
Standard: ISO 16363:2012
Title: Space data and information transfer systems -- Audit and certification of trustworthy digital repositories
Abstract: ISO 16363:2012 defines a recommended practice for assessing the trustworthiness of digital repositories. It is applicable to the entire range of digital repositories. ISO 16363:2012 can be used as a basis for certification.
Link: http://www.iso.org/iso/home/store/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=56510

ISO 16363 + OAIS = Recipe book to create a repository
When you put the ISO audit of certification with the Open Archival Information System (OAIS), then you have “recipe book for how to create a repository.” However, remember that not everyone is a good cook or can read a recipe book.

Does your institution have a preservation mission?
The very first item on the ISO 16363 standard asks if you have a mission statement that supports preservation. A test audit of three institutional repositories believed they had a preservation mission. However, their mission statements stated that their mission was to provide access to content. Preservation is never mentioned. This will affect your long-term sustainability.

“I think if the repository and the preservation is the core of your mission—and it’s relevant to your funder, then there’ll be sustainability.”

Advice to students
Advice #1: Get as much technology behind you as you can
“Get as much technology behind you as you can. Because it is a technical, it’s a digital world.”
“Most of the new hires in archives, they’re really looking for somebody with digital skills.”

Advice #2: Find something you really want to do
a. Think about what type of job you want to have and how you can go about getting that job
b. For your master’s capstone, pick out, at least, if not where you want to work, an area that you want to work in, the type of place you want to work and the type of job you want to do
c. Do some research on that for your paper
d. Take that to your interview and actually say, “these are the issues that are relevant to you and look, I’ve done some exploration and I have some answers for you”

Digital skills + Communication skills = You will be in demand
Build up your digital skills and be the bridge between the programmers and those with not enough digital skills. The field needs those who can communicate without being intimidating to librarians, researchers and stakeholders who lack digital skills. This is what is needed and there are so few with this combination of skills.

•“If you have those digital skills and you have good communication skills so that you can talk to the people who don’t have the digital skills. And you can talk to the content creators and the content users and be that person in the middle. Very few people can pull that off, those—that’s the combination.”

•“Having enough technology to be able to bridge between the people who have not enough—people who are going to be the programmers. You’re probably not going to be the programmers, but you have to have enough to be in that middle spot. And there are so few people who can actually do that, you will have a job.”

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