Digital Preservation class assists the Carpentries with digital stewardship

Students enrolled in Postdoctoral Research Associate Rhiannon Bettivia's Digital Preservation (IS 586) class can expect to work on real-life projects. 

"Students in 586 are often pursuing a terminal professional degree," Bettivia explained. "They are going to graduate and head off to be leaders in this field."

Over the course of the summer and fall 2018 semesters, students in Bettivia's class worked on a project for the Carpentries, a volunteer community of over one thousand instructors worldwide who are teaching scientists basic lab skills for research computing. The project came about after Elizabeth Wickes, iSchool lecturer and member of the Carpentries' Executive Council, approached Bettivia about some challenges the Carpentries were facing as a uniquely large-scale distributed digital community.

"I devised a multi-semester set of projects that began last summer, given the scale of the Carpentries and their digital stewardship challenges," Bettivia said. "Students were tasked with scoping and documenting the Carpentries' digital footprint across a number of web-enabled platforms and breaking down these findings into functional series. After doing this, groups of students took a deeper look at selected series, including social media materials and assessment data as well as a particular GitHub [repository], to identify the particular digital stewardship challenges associated with the given platforms."

At the end of the summer semester, students presented their findings to Carpentries employees and Executive Council members. Based on this initial work, the Carpentries identified one particular series that would serve as a pilot for future digital stewardship work. Students enrolled in Bettivia's class last semester took on this task, becoming familiar with the output from the first leg of the project, researching the client, and splitting into five groups to interview different stakeholders within the Carpentries community. 

"The fall 2018 students created visualizations of current workflows around a particular data stream at the Carpentries. In the second half of the semester, students changed groups to consolidate and share their findings from their various stakeholder meetings. In pooling their data, they created master workflows of current practice, and suggested changes that would ensure the longevity of the materials by crafting archival information package models and proposing workflow changes as well as using new tools and platforms," Bettivia said.

Working on the Carpentries project, students learned technical skills around workflow modeling and the use of platforms and tools common to digital preservation. They also learned important executive skills, such as working with different stakeholders within real-world organizations, balancing time and communication when working with international clients, presenting specialist information to generalist audiences, and creating professional post-consultation write-ups.

"Working with the Carpentries was a valuable experience in consolidating information, client interaction, and how to come up with recommendations that best suits the Carpentries' capacity as a non-profit organization," said MS/LIS student Miyuki Meyer.

According to Bettivia, working with actual clients prepares students by presenting them with the kind of work they might do in the future while also providing valuable experiences and career preparation.

"Many students have taken a project from 586 and turned it into a line on a CV, a paragraph in a cover letter, an internship, a practicum, a fellowship, a grant application, or a job," she said. "The students did a superlative job on the Carpentries project. The challenge I set them was massive and thorny, and they more than rose to the occasion. I was truly impressed with their work."

Research Areas:
Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Introductory course teaches information science concepts through game design

As part of Teaching Associate Professor Judith Pintar's Introduction to Information Sciences (IS 101) course, students are tasked with creating board games that teach various aspects of information science targeted to particular audiences. The students presented their creations on April 19 at the Game Studies and Design Spring 2024 Showcase. In addition to the game demonstrations, the event featured posters and presentations by students and faculty.

David Hopping passes away

Teaching Assistant Professor and Workforce Development/Continuing Education Director David Hopping passed away on April 10. He is survived by his wife, Teaching Associate Professor Judith Pintar, two children, extended family, colleagues, and many beloved friends around the globe. 

David Hopping

2023 Downs Intellectual Freedom Award given to Missouri Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee

For its educational programming and advocacy work in support of the right to read, the Missouri Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) has been named the 2023 recipient of the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award. The award is given annually by the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is co-sponsored by Sage, a global academic publisher of books, journals, and library resources.

Knox recognized for public engagement

Associate Professor Emily Knox has been selected as the recipient of the Campus Excellence in Public Engagement Emerging Award. She will be honored on May 28 at a special event hosted by the Office of Public Engagement. 

Emily Knox

Schneider selected as 2024-2025 Harvard Radcliffe Institute Fellow

Associate Professor Jodi Schneider has been selected as a 2024-2025 fellow of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, an institute of Harvard University that fosters interdisciplinary research across the humanities, sciences, social sciences, arts, and professions.

Jodi Schneider