Developing curriculum for digital libraries and digital curation education: Reflections on synergies and divergencies



Over the past decade, there has been tremendous growth in professional opportunities for information and library science (ILS) and computer science (CS) graduates in the areas of digital libraries and digital and data curation. These opportunities require a diverse set of skills to perform, manage and address a range of procedures, processes, and challenges across the life-cycle of digital objects, from point of creation, through dissemination, access, storage, use, re-use, and withdrawal. To train students to fill these new professional roles, there is a need for professional education to address the necessary competencies for managing digital collections. In response, several recent projects are developing curricula to prepare today's students to work in the ever-evolving fields of digital libraries and digital and data curation.

This panel brings together researchers from four disparate curriculum development projects:

  • Digital Libraries Curriculum Development project, a collaboration between the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech (VT), funded by the National Science Foundation;
  • Digital Libraries Education project, a collaboration between the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services;
  • Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation (DigCCurr) project, an IMLS-funded collaboration between SILS and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); and
  • Data Curation Education Program (DCEP), an IMLS-funded project at GSLIS/UIUC.

Panelists will discuss similarities in topic areas between curricula for digital libraries education and digital and data curation education, where these developing curricula diverge, and ways in which these curricula may support each other. Further, panelists will address the convergence in educational opportunities across the ILS and CS disciplines.


This panel will benefit educators and practitioners by providing multiple perspectives on professional competencies and strategies for preparing students for professional positions as digital librarians and digital and data curators at libraries, archives, academic institutions, data repositories, information centers, cultural heritage institutions, and other organizations working in the areas of digital object management. The structure of the panel session will be as follows: the session will begin with brief, three-to-five minute summaries presented by each panelist, sharing key attributes of their respective curricular frameworks. Following will be a moderator-led discussion guided by the following questions:

  • How do these four curricular approaches converge?
  • What commonalities exist between their core fundamental requirements and underlying principles?
  • Where do the curricula diverge?
  • Is it possible to draw a line between digital library management and operations and digital/data curation practices? If so, how are these distinguished? If not, is there a need to reorganize approaches in support of a clear demarcation?
  • How might the curricula address the development of both tangible, skills-based competencies and intangible, personal competencies?

In addition to sharing findings from their respective projects and responding to questions from the moderator, panelists will engage the audience in a discussion to solicit feedback and generate discourse to inform further refinement of the respective curricular frameworks.

Audience members will be invited to pose questions and share reflections from their professional and educational experiences. Such engagement will allow for greater discussion on identifying similarities and differences between the projects; distinguishing between core and optional requirements and competencies, and identifying gaps.


This panel session will have several objectives. Researchers from key digital libraries and digital/data curation education curriculum projects will share findings, and through this dissemination of curricular developments, inform opportunities at other academic programs as well as continuing education opportunities offered by professional organizations, employers and others. Solicitation of feedback through interactive discussions will enhance understanding of curriculum requirements and lead to improved understanding for negotiating relationships between these two similar, yet, divergent areas of study.


Dr. Javed Mostafa is an associate professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He teaches and conducts research in the information science area, specializing in information retrieval and user modeling. He has joint faculty affiliations in the information science program and biomedical research and imaging center. Recently, his research focused on personalized health information delivery while preserving privacy, a NSF funded project. He is also the PI on an ongoing educational grant from the IMLS focusing on training next generation digital librarians.

Jeffrey Pomerantz is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he teaches courses on Reference and Digital Libraries. He is currently co-PI on the NSF-funded collaborative UNC-VT Digital Libraries Curriculum Development project. His research is concerned with the integration of automated and human-intermediated services in the various contexts of traditional and digital library environments.

Helen Tibbo is a Professor in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Tibbo is Principal Investigator for the IMLS-funded project, “Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation,” and a co-investigator on the NSF-sponsored VidArch project. She is also co-principal investigator for the Mellon-sponsored Developing Standardized Metrics Project, and is the Primary Investigator for the NHPRC Electronic Records Research Fellowships Program.

Jerome McDonough is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library & Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he serves as coordinator for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Digital Libraries program and teaches courses on digital libraries, metadata, and digital preservation. Prior to joining GSLIS, he was Team Leader for the New York University Libraries digital library program, as well as serving as chair of the METS editorial board and as a member of the NISO Standards Development Committee. His current research focuses on digital preservation and the organization of complex information objects.

Carole L. Palmer is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Director of the GSLIS Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS). She has been one of the lead developers of new educational programs at GSLIS in the areas of data curation and biological informatics. She has written and presented widely aligning digital resource development with scientific and scholarly information work and information support for interdisciplinary research. Her recent NSF, IMLS, and Mellon funded projects include investigations of high-impact information in brain research, data curation needs across sciences, the changing nature of collections in the digital environment, and institutional repository development.