By Sarah Cuk
It’s no secret that the complex characteristics of digital information present complex challenges in its preservation. Yet the importance of maintaining digital objects within an evolving world of material, intellectual, technological, environmental, and ethical struggles persists. Many of the obstacles we confront in our preservation endeavors can feel overwhelming—sometimes impossible to overcome. One organization that can help with these issues is the Digital Preservation Outreach and Education Network. DPOE-N distributes microgrants and hardware and hosts workshops about various digital-preservation-related topics.
The Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), a UK-based non-profit, defines digital preservation as a “series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary” (Digital Preservation Coalition, 2015). The underlying goal is to ensure the continuity of authentic digital information within a world that changes over time—a continuous and generative process of adaptation, maintenance, and care. But that can be really challenging when there’s not enough money, resources, or support.
It can be difficult to stay up to date on evolving technologies in the face of growing obsolescence. It can be overwhelming to control an exponentially increasing amount of generated data when faced with organizational inadequacies and abysmal funding allocation. It can be impossible to prevent burn-out amongst ourselves, especially in the context of climate change and global economic instability. DPOE-N seeks to mediate some of these issues by facilitating skill-sharing and distributing the funding and hardware we need to complete preservation projects.
DPOE-N began in 2010 at the Library of Congress as Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE), with a goal to “foster national outreach and education to encourage individuals and organizations to actively preserve their digital content” (Library of Congress). DPOE emphasized their “train the trainers” in-person courses at LoC (Baur and Cocciolo, 2022), focusing on curriculum, core principles, and building an instructor base. With the addition of the “N” in 2018, DPOE-N moved to the Pratt Institute School of Information and the New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program, becoming “a more distributed model, creating a ‘network’ of resources” and providing “funds for those interested in practicing digital preservation in support of cultural heritage collections” (Baur and Cocciolo, 2022). In 2022, DPOE-N received another two-year grant from the Mellon Foundation, meaning there are currently funds available. You just need to apply.
Professional Development Microgrants
A significant part of DPOE-N’s offerings include the professional development microgrants. If you’re an individual or an institution looking to bolster your digital preservation efforts, if you’re experiencing preservation challenges resulting from COVID-19, or if you’re an emerging professional wanting to learn more about current practices, you’re eligible to apply for up to $2,500 USD to cover the cost of trainings, conferences, and workshops hosted by our partners, some of whom I’ll list below. DPOE-N offers funding for workshops outside of the United States, but to be eligible to receive funding from the microgrants, you must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.
The courses that DPOE-N promotes are varied and should relate to digital preservation to qualify for funding. Upcoming trainings can be found in our Training Database. Some highlights include Enacting Environmentally Sustainable Digital Preservation hosted by the Southeast Asia Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (SARBICA), Email Archiving hosted by SAA, and Creating Preservation-Quality Oral Histories hosted by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). Visit the DPOE-N Training Database to see more.
Emergency Hardware Support
If you’re an organization with a 501(c)(3) public charity status operating within the United States or its territories, you can apply for up to $600 to receive emergency hardware, such as Western Digital’s 12TB or 16TB RAID External Hard Drives. If you have any questions about eligibility, we encourage you to contact us!
Additionally, DPOE-N offers free workshops with various focuses for which you can apply. This past September, we hosted Operations and Systems Management for Cultural Heritage Professionals and have had workshops in sustainable web archiving, moving image and sound preservation, and command line interface. The workshops are offered freely, though we ask you to fill out an online RSVP.
You can check out DPOE-N on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. We also just launched a monthly newsletter that gives news updates, upcoming trainings and conferences, and testimonials from microgrant recipients. Visit our website to apply for microgrants and emergency hardware support and to browse for resources, upcoming workshops, trainings, and conferences. You can also read this poster to see a great overview of DPOE-N’s history and offerings!
Digital Preservation Handbook, 2nd Edition, https://www.dpconline.org/handbook, Digital Preservation Coalition © 2015
Digital Preservation Outreach and Education, https://digitalpreservation.gov/education/, Library of Congress
Natalie Baur and Anthony Cocciolo, Digital Preservation Outreach and Education Network, 2020-2022 and Beyond, DPOE-N, 2022
Sarah Cuk is a graduate student at Pratt Institute pursuing an MSLIS with a focus on archives and special collections. She is a Research Fellow at DPOE-N and is interested in community archives, reference & instruction, and audiovisual preservation.