POWRR Institutes

POWRR Professional Development Institutes for Digital Preservation (2017-2019)

Since its inception in 2012, the Preserving digital Objects With Restricted Resources (Digital POWRR) Project has endeavored to make digital preservation more accessible to a wider range of professionals.

Building on the previous success of the Preserving Digital Objects With Restricted Resources (Digital POWRR) project, POWRR is now entering Phase 3 of its work thanks to generous grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program. The “POWRR Professional Development Institutes for Digital Preservation” grant will enable project staff to organize and hold five two-day professional institutes enabling librarians and archivists from small and mid-sized institutions to build skills for curating and preserving digital collections. Utilizing an application process, 30 individuals will be selected to attend each POWRR Institute, resulting in a total of 150 individuals between the five events. Institutes will be offered free of charge, with financial assistance available to participants with need, and will incorporate hands-on technical training, engagement with institutional case studies, and one-on-one consultation with expert practitioners drawn from the digital preservation field. Institutes will utilize a modified cohort model to encourage attendees to form communities of practice that will continue after the conclusion of the Institutes. Attendees will also depart the Institutes with a personalized and actionable preservation plan that will enable them to take action upon returning to their institutions.

From 2015-2016, the Digital POWRR Project utilized grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Preservation and Access, to continue to develop and refine the day-long POWRR workshop. Although the grant initially allowed for a minimum of six workshops to be conducted, the team was able exceed that goal. By finding generous hosts who allowed the use of their facilities for free, and by other creative resource stretching, the instruction team was able to travel to a over a dozen locations. The project also made a number of travel bursaries available, to help those with financial need be able to attend the workshop. To reach more interested people, the team frequently conducted multiple workshops at a single location.  Project staff collected expansive feedback from attendees and used it to improve the workshop continuously.

From 2012-2014, the Digital POWRR Project, an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-funded study investigated, evaluated, and recommended scalable, sustainable digital preservation solutions for libraries with smaller amounts of data and/or fewer resources.  During the course of the study, Digital POWRR Project team members realized that many information professionals felt overwhelmed by the scope of the problem. Team members prepared a workshop curriculum based off the findings of the study and presented it to several groups of information professionals as part of the project’s dissemination phase.  Demand for the workshops was high – registration for these workshops filled up quickly and created a long waiting list of eager professionals trying to get into the workshops. Towards the end of the project, organizations of information professionals were still reaching out to team members in hopes to bring the workshop to their area. With the funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Preservation and Access, the workshop can continue providing practical, hands-on solutions to begin digital preservation practices to meet the demands of the information professionals from small and under-funded institutions.

Overview

In 2017-2019, the Digital POWRR team put on five intensive institutes, enabling librarians and archivists from small and mid-sized institutions to build skills for curating and preserving digital collections. Utilizing an application process, 30 individuals were selected to attend each POWRR Institute, resulting in a total of 150 individuals between the five events. Institutes were offered free of charge, with financial assistance available to participants with need, and incorporated hands-on technical training, engagement with institutional case studies, and one-on-one consultations with expert practitioners drawn from the digital preservation field. Institutes utilized a modified cohort model to encourage attendees to form communities of practice that were intended to continue after the conclusion of the Institutes. Attendees also departed the Institutes with a personalized and actionable preservation plan that enabled them to take action upon returning to their institutions.

The information below relates to the application process and schedule for this project, which concluded in 2019.

Should I apply?

An ideal candidate for a POWRR Institute fits some or all of the descriptions below:

  • Someone who works in a “boots on the ground” role (this could be any range of positions in the cultural heritage sector, but the idea is that your primary role is not one as an administrator)
  • Someone who has been exposed to basic digital preservation concepts, but who has struggled with moving from theory to practice
  • Someone who represents or serves historically underrepresented populations
  • Someone who is comfortable with basic technology, (navigating a basic computing environment) but who would benefit from instruction on more intermediate concepts
  • Someone employed by an institution unable to provide professional development funding adequate to attend other digital preservation training opportunities
  • Someone who works directly with digital materials, and who can work with POWRR instructors to start to create a rudimentary assessment document on digital preservation readiness at your own institution
  • Someone who would benefit from being a part of a small cohort of professionals like themselves, and who will put forth effort into sustaining these professional connections after the end of the Institute

I Attended a POWRR Workshop, Can I Still Apply?

Yes! While the Institute may cover some similar ground as the original POWRR workshop, the mix of outside speakers and activities means that this event is substantively different. The application has a space for you to indicate your previous attendance.

Statement of Inclusivity

The Digital POWRR Project is committed to creating and supporting inclusive, diverse, and equitable communities of practice. We aim to be a welcoming organization that is anti-oppression, recognizes intersectionalities, and works compassionately across difference.

We recognize that a majority of digital preservation research and work has traditionally occurred among more heavily resourced organizations, effectively making the less-resourced feel as if the participation bar is simply too high to clear. The POWRR philosophy emphasizes a “big tent” approach, whereby people from different backgrounds can learn from one another in a judgment-free zone. As such, we especially welcome applicants from small organizations of all stripes, including tribal libraries/archives, public libraries, historical societies, museums, and those who work as solo practitioners or “lone arrangers.”

We know that the best problem-solving and critical thinking happens when people with a wide array of experiences and perspectives come together to work in comfort and safety as peers. We therefore expect participants in the POWRR Institutes to help create thoughtful and respectful environments where that interaction can take place.

(Adapted from the DLF’s Code of Conduct, licensed under a CC-BY-NC 4.0 license)


Calendar of Institutes

Institute Location Application Goes Live Application Deadline Institute Dates
Institute One Naperville, IL – NIU Naperville Conference Center (map) August 28, 2017 September 15, 2017 November 30-December 1, 2017
Institute Two Warm Springs, OR (Sponsored by the Sustainable Heritage Network – in conjunction with Northwest Archivists 2018 Annual Meeting) November 30, 2017 February 2, 2018 April 28-29, 2018
Institute Three Tempe, AZ (Arizona State University Library) March 5, 2018 March 23, 2018 June 14-15, 2018
Institute Four Washington, D.C. (George Washington University campus) October 15, 2018 November 15, 2018  March 12-13, 2019
Institute Five Naperville, IL – NIU Naperville Conference Center (Rescheduled from January) September 5, 2018 October 5, 2018 April 18-19, 2019

Note: The content of each institute will be substantially the same. Case studies and guest lectures will vary by location.


Application Instructions

Thanks to support in the grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, limited funding is available to offset the cost of attending the Institutes, and will be based on need. Please indicate your need for financial assistance on the application form. Although multiple people from a single institution may apply, we may not be able to accommodate all applicants. Each institute will be limited to 30 participants.

The final Institute funded by the grant will be held in April 2019 at the NIU Conference Center in Naperville, Illinois. This event was originally scheduled to take place on January 31-February 1st, but was cancelled due to extreme weather events in the Chicago area.

Questions?

Contact us (powrr [at] niu.edu), or @DigitalPOWRR on Twitter.

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