Innovation Awards

Our annual Innovation Awards were established by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA) to recognize and encourage innovation in the field of digital preservation stewardship. These awards highlight and commend creative individuals, projects, organizations, educators, and future stewards demonstrating originality and excellence in their contributions to the field of digital preservation.

About the Innovation Awards

As a diverse international membership organization with a shared commitment to digital preservation, the NDSA understands the importance of innovation and risk-taking in developing and supporting a broad range of successful digital preservation activities. Acknowledging that innovative digital stewardship can take many forms, eligibility for these awards has been left purposely broad. Anyone or any project or institution acting in the context of the above categories can be nominated for an award. Nominees do not have to be NDSA member institutions or individuals or project staff affiliated with member institutions, but must evidence innovative engagement with the theory and practice of long-term digital preservation stewardship at a level of national or international importance. Nominators similarly do not need to be affiliated with NDSA member institutions. Self-nomination is accepted and encouraged, as are submissions reflecting the needs and accomplishments of historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. More information on the awards, including previous awardees, is available on this page. This is your chance to help us highlight and reward novel, risk-taking and inventive approaches to the challenges of digital preservation.

These awards focus on recognizing excellence in one or more of the following areas:

  • Individuals making a significant, innovative contribution to the digital preservation community.
  • Projects whose goals or outcomes represent an inventive, meaningful addition to the understanding or processes required for successful, sustainable digital preservation stewardship.
  • Organizations taking an innovative approach to providing support and guidance to the digital preservation community.
  • Future stewards, especially students, but including educators, trainers, or curricular endeavors taking a creative approach to advancing knowledge of digital preservation issues and practices.
  • Educators, including trainers or curricular endeavors, promoting innovative approaches and access to digital preservation through partnerships, professional development opportunities, and curriculum.

Working Group Members

  • Stephen Abrams, co-chair (Harvard University)
  • Krista Oldham, co-chair (Clemson University)
  • Samantha Abrams (Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation)
  • Lauren Goodley (Texas State University)
  • Grete Graf (Yale University)
  • Kari May (University of Pittsburgh)

2020 NDSA Innovation Awards Call for Nominations

Nominations are now closed for the NDSA 2020 Innovation Awards, nominations closed on 4 September 2020.

2019 NDSA Innovation Award Winners

The 2019 Innovation Awards were announced at Digital Preservation 2019 in Tampa, FL on October 16, 2019. The 2019 NDSA Innovation Awards Working Group was led by co-chairs Stephen Abrams (Harvard University) and Krista Oldham (Clemson University), with members Samantha Abrams (Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation), Lauren Goodley (Texas State University), Grete Graf (Yale University), and Kari May (University of Pittsburgh). Aliya Reich at CLIR provided administrative support for the entire awards process.

  • Individual: Dr. Dinesh Katre As Senior Director and Head of the Department of Human-Centred Design and Computing (HCDC) Group at the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in India, Katre has established a distinguished record leading the development of innovative technological solutions for digital preservation, trustworthy digital repository certification, data repurposing and intelligent archiving. Over the last several years, he has worked to advocate for, develop, and deploy the Indian National Digital Preservation Programme, which provides a robust and comprehensive platform for the effective long-term preservation of the digital materials. As Chief Investigator of the Programme’s flagship project to establish a Center of Excellence for Digital Preservation, Dr. Katre led the process to develop a digital preservation standard for India, as well as domain-specific archival systems and automation tools for digital preservation. He also conceptualized, designed and led the development of DIGITĀLAYA, a software framework, which comprehensively implements the OAIS reference model. DIGITĀLAYA has been customized for preservation of electronic office records, audiovisual and document archives and e-governance records. Katre’s efforts culminated in the first repository in the world to achieve ISO 16363 certification. His achievements exemplify the growing international reach of concern and practice in the areas of digital stewardship and preservation.
  • Individual: Tessa Walsh Tessa Walsh is a digital archivist and preservation librarian with varied experience at Harvard, Tufts, the University of Wyoming, and currently, Concordia University. She is also a prolific software developer, and this capacity has created, and made freely available through her BitArchivist website and Github, an evolving suite of robust open source tools meeting many core needs of the stewardship community in appraising, processing, and reporting upon born-digital collections. Her projects include the Brunnhilde characterization tool; BulkReviewer, for identifying PII and other sensitive information; the METSFlask viewer for Archivematica METS files; SCOPE, an access interface for Archivematica dissemination information packages; and CCA Tools, for creating submission packages from a variety of folder and disk image sources. Taken together, these tools support a very wide gamut of both technical and curatorial activities. The open availability, documentation, support, and community engagement for a growing ecosystem of mature preservation tools is critical to the successful and sustainable stewardship of the digital materials so critical to contemporary and future commerce, culture, science, entertainment, and education. This work also provides an excellent example of how a lone individual can nevertheless make a substantial positive impact on the complex domain of stewardship practice through dedication, skill, enthusiasm, and community spirit.
  • Organization: The Asociación Iberoamericana de Preservación Digital (APREDIG) APREDIG is a nonprofit Ibero-American association founded at the end of 2017 in Barcelona, Spain, with the intention of promoting the importance of digital preservation in Spainish-speaking countries. Its activity has culminated in projects and activities to disseminate a Spanish translation of the original NDSA Levels of Preservation, opening-up significant new opportunities for expanding digital stewardship best practices, and subsequent outcomes, by practitioners in Spain and Latin America. Led by Dr. Miquel Termens and Dr. David Leija (Universitat de Barcelona), this group of volunteers, researchers, and disseminators of best practices for digital preservation have created an online self-assessment tool to help Institutions of Spain and Mexico understand recommendations, key concepts, and simple diagnosis of digital preservation practices using the NDSA Levels as a guideline. The critical importance of effective and sustainable solutions for preserving digital materials transcends institutional and national boundaries. APREDIG’s efforts are a vital example of the growing international reach of stewardship and preservation concerns and applications. Furthermore, they evidence the positive contribution to local and global understanding resulting from the expansion of the community of theory and practice to all interested and engaged participants.
  • Organization: Software Preservation Network The idea for a Software Preservation Network (SPN) originated 2014, Since then, it has developed into a vibrant grassroots organization of digital preservation practitioners invested in the future of software preservation. Through multiple federal grants and start-up seed funding, SPN has solidified alliances among international stakeholders—both individuals and organizations—with diverse perspectives, including libraries, archives, and museums. Two separate, but complementary, aspects of SPN’s work are particularly noteworthy. First, its innovative efforts to develop effective techniques and programs for the long-term stewardship of the intermediating software upon which preserved digital resources are inextricably dependent, exemplified by publication of the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Software Preservation, and the Emulation-as-a-Service Infrastructure (EaaSI) project researching scalable emulation. Second, Jessica and Zack place critical emphasis on issues of community engagement and organizational sustainability. This work provides an extremely useful case study to the stewardship community of the importance of thoughtful and iterative self-reflection and refinement of organizational strategies, goals, processes, and initiatives to ensure the continued relevance, value, and persistence of programmatic efforts. SPN offers a model for digital stewardship that combines steadfast vision with flexibility and an emphasis on the evolving needs of the organization’s constituents. The award was accepted on behalf of the entire SPN organization and its members by Jessica Meyerson (Educopia Institute) and Zach Vowell (California Polytechnic State University).
  • Project: Great Migration Home Movie Project Since its inception in 2016, the Great Migration Home Movie Project (GMHMP) at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has digitized hundreds of hours of African American home movies and thousands of photographs for families who have visited the Museum in Washington and for those who live across the country, in Baltimore, Denver, and Chicago. In its current iteration, families visiting the Museum are invited to drop off their home movies and films, videotapes, and audiotapes when they arrive for the day, and then pick up their original and digital copies (preserved by a team of professionals) at the end of the day — with the added invitation to donate digital copies to the Museum, enriching its growing collection of vernacular home movies. As explained by Walter Forsberg, founder of the NMAAHC’s Media Conservation and Digitization department, the Great Migration Home Movie Project lowers the “technological barriers-to-entry of audiovisual digitization and directly and proactively addresses the historic obfuscation and exclusion of people of color from traditional archives.” It is thanks to the work of the Great Migration Home Movie Project that not only can these memories be gifted back to families and their future descendants, but, also, that “history is being re-written in a very real and immediate way.” The award was accepted on behalf of the entire GMHMP project team by Candace Ming.

Past Award Recipients