The NDSA Excellence Awards Working Group (formerly the Innovation Awards Working Group) is excited to announce the expansion and renaming of the awards to recognize the important contributions that are being made in the areas of sustainability and maintenance. The NDSA Excellence Awards will highlight and commend all forms of creative and meaningful contributions by individuals, projects, sustainability activities, organizations, future stewards, and educators to the field of digital preservation.

Prior winners of the “Future Stewards” award originally proposed the change and worked together with the Excellence Awards Working Group to make it possible. Please see below for more information!

When reflecting on the 2020 NDSA Digital Preservation conference, much of our conversation centered around the “What’s Wrong with Digital Stewardship: Evaluating the Organization of Digital Preservation Programs from Practitioners’ Perspectives” panel discussion, based on the eponymous paper by Karl Blumenthal, Peggy Griesinger, Julia Y. Kim, Shira Peltzman, and Vicky Steeves. Like many practitioners in the field, the paper identified themes and articulated scenarios we had experienced or observed ourselves, particularly around issues of labor, leadership, and funding.

We wondered what we could, and should, do to better acknowledge and celebrate digital stewards for under-recognized maintenance work, and coalesced on proposing a new NDSA award category focused on maintenance and sustainability work, as well as renaming the awards to reflect an expanded scope beyond innovation. We’re each recipients of Future Steward awards, and reached out to the other Future Stewards to co-sign our proposal; we are grateful for their support in collectively raising our voices to suggest change in order to best reflect the state of the field. You can read our proposal here.

-Samantha Abrams, Elizabeth England, and Lauren Work

The Excellence Awards Working Group sees this as one small step, as there is much more work to be done to shift from the continued use of “innovation” as a main driver for recognition not just within the field, but by organizations’ leadership and funders. In short – we need YOU! Review the new Excellence Awards structure here, particularly the newly added Sustainability Award, and get ready to nominate colleagues in a few weeks!

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