What makes a digital steward: A competency profile based on the National Digital Stewardship Residencies




Griesinger, Peggy
Peltzman, Shira
Blumenthal, Karl-Rainer
Steeves, Vicky
Kim, Julia

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Digital stewardship is the active and long-term management of digital objects towards their preservation for and unencumbered access by future generations. Although the field is rapidly maturing, it still lacks a comprehensive competency profile for practitioners. This is due in part to the relative youth of the field, and to the fact that being an effective steward of digital materials requires highly specialized training that is best acquired through hands-on work. Given the key role that competency profiles play in the design of curricula and job postings, the lack of one hinders the training and education of professionals for these positions. This paper provides a profile of the skills, responsibilities, and knowledge areas that define competency in digital stewardship, based on a close study of the projects undertaken in the National Digital Stewardship Residency program (NDSR). The authors use a triangulated research methodology in order to define the scope of the profile, qualitatively analyze the competencies articulated among NDSR project descriptions, and quantitatively evaluate those competencies' importance to professional success. The profile that results from this research has implications for current and future digital stewards: training designed with this profile as its basis will focus on the skills most needed to be an effective digital steward, and therefore can guide both graduate and professional development curricula alike.


This paper was presented at iPRES 2016, 13th International Conference on Digital Preservation, held in Bern, Switzerland, October 3-6, 2016. Research data is available at osf.io/zndwq.



Blumenthal, K.-R., Griesinger, P., Kim, J., Peltzman, S., & Steeves, V. (2016 October 03). What makes a digital steward: A competency profile based on the National Digital Stewardship Residencies. Paper presented at iPRES 2016, Bern, Switzerland.