Organizations establishing or scaling up digital preservation programs are faced with many staffing, scoping and organizational decisions, such as: How many staff are needed and what kinds of skills, education and experience should they have? What types of positions should the institution create? Should it hire new staff or retrain existing staff? And how should the preservation program be scoped--that is, what functions should be included directly in the program, provided by other parts of the organization, outsourced, or implemented through collaboration with other organizations? What organizational and staffing models work well?
In 2012, several members of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) Standards & Practices working group conducted the first Preservation Staffing Survey. The survey and resulting paper was designed to shed light on how organizations responsible for digital preservation are addressing these staffing, scoping and organizational questions.
In 2017, the interested members of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) repeated the survey to gain insight into how organizations worldwide were addressing these questions five years later. Such information is useful for benchmarking, identifying effective practices, and possibly making a case to strengthen staffing.
Survey respondents were asked to describe their organization type (library, archives, data repository, etc.), how much storage they were using for digital content, expected growth in preserved content over the next year, which types of activities were considered part of the scope of the digital preservation function, which activities were outsourced, whether there was a dedicated digital preservation department, how many FTEs were currently doing digital preservation work and how many would be ideal, which functions the digital preservation staff filled, whether the staffing arrangement worked well, whether the organization hired experienced digital preservation specialists or retrained existing staff, and the importance of various skills in hiring a new digital preservation manager.
The survey received responses from 14 unique countries, including the United States. The eleven options for repository type we provided were each represented. We also received additional responses in the free-text section that could constitute additional repository types.