Previous Innovation Awards

NDSA Innovation Awards 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. This page documents past winners; current winners can be found on the Innovations Awards page.

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.

2018 NDSA Innovation Award Winners

The 2018 Innovation Awards were announced at Digital Preservation 2018 in Las Vegas on October 17, 2018.

Future Steward: Raven Bishop Raven Bishop is recognized for her work as Instructional Technologist on Washington College’s Augmented Archives project. This collaborative work has helped leverage emerging technologies to increase access to and engagement with primary source materials in Washington College’s Archives & Special Collections, as well as exploring ways to solve the sustainability problems institutions face in using end-user platforms to create AR content. A co-founder of the project, Raven served as resident Augmented Reality (AR) expert and visual arts educator, guiding the pedagogical considerations of the project, serving as the principal developer of the Pocket Museum app prototype, and overseeing the creation of the resource website. We would also like to make a special acknowledgement to Raven’s colleague and collaborator, Heather Calloway, for her work as Archivist and Special Collections Librarian and co-founder of the Augmented Archives project.

Individual: George Edward McCain As the Digital Curator of Journalism and founder of the Journalism Digital News Archive (JDNA), George Edward McCain has been and is a leading voice and passionate advocate for saving born digital news. He has advanced awareness and understanding of the crisis we face through the loss of the “first rough draft of history” in digital formats. In collaboration and with support from colleagues and community members, he has led the “Dodging the Memory Hole” outreach agenda. Thus far, five “Memory Hole” forums have brought together journalists, editors, technologists, librarians, archivists, and others who seek solutions to preserving born-digital news content for future generations. By bringing together thought leaders in the news industry and information science, the forums have broadened the network of stakeholders working on this issue and helped these communities gain critical insight on the challenges and opportunities inherent in preserving content generated by a diverse array of news media, both commercial and non-profit.

Edward McCain would like to thank Dorothy Carner, Ann Riley, Jim Cogswell, Mike Holland, Jeannette Pierce, Randy Picht, Katherine Skinner, Peter Broadwell, Todd Grapone, Sharon Farb, Martin Klein, Brewster Kahle, Mark Graham, Jefferson Bailey, Brian Geiger, Anna Krahmer, Senator Roy Blunt and his staff, Clifford Lynch, Martin Halbert, Jim Kroll, Leigh Montgomery, Eric Weig, Frederick Zarndt, The Institute for Museum and Library Services, The Mizzou Advantage, and last but not least, his wife, Rosemary Feraldi.

Organization: Texas Digital Library The Texas Digital Library (TDL) is a consortium of Texas higher education institutions that builds capacity for preserving, managing, and providing access to unique digital collections of enduring value.

Accepting the award on behalf of TDL is Kristi Park. For nearly a decade, Kristi Park has led consortial Open Access and digital preservation initiatives at the state and national levels. The Executive Director of the Texas Digital Library (TDL) since 2015, Kristi oversees a portfolio of collaboratively built and managed services that enable sharing and preserving scholarship and research data. During her tenure, the Texas Digital Library has launched a statewide repository for sharing and managing research data, joined the Chronopolis digital preservation network, and grown its membership to 22 institutional members. Kristi joined the Texas Digital Library in 2009, serving in various marketing and communications roles before becoming executive director. Prior to TDL she worked in private industry as a researcher, writer, and editor for business and educational publishers. A native Texan with deep roots in the state, she earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

Project: UC Guidelines for Born-Digital Archival Description The UC Guidelines for Born-Digital Archival Description are a significant step in breaking down one of the biggest obstacles to making born-digital content accessible: its description. With standards for describing born-digital content, archivists and other professionals can more clearly communicate the quality, quantity, and usability of digital material to users. The UC Guidelines were the result of intensive research by a large group of practitioners and content experts who analyzed existing descriptive standards, emerging best practices for born digital materials, and archivists’ practical considerations. The resulting UC Guidelines are a comprehensive resource presented in simple terms, expanding accessibility beyond advanced professionals to include a wide range of practitioners. This project embodies a creative and inclusive approach to problem solving: tackling a hyper-local problem while contributing to larger discussions about widely shared challenges. The mapping to DACS, MARC, and EAD allows other institutions to easily incorporate the UC standards into their own. The guidelines are also useful for institutions new to born-digital descriptive practices and for graduate students learning how to write and compose finding aids.

The most up-to-date version of the UC Guidelines for Born-Digital Archival Description can be found in GitHub.

In addition, the UC Guidelines for Born-Digital Archival Description have been preserved and made permanently accessible in eScholarship, a service of the California Digital Library that provides scholarly publishing and repository services for the University of California community. The permalink to this paper series can be found on eScholarship.

Educator: Heather Moulaison Sandy Heather Moulaison Sandy is Associate Professor at the iSchool at the University of Missouri and works primarily at the intersection of the organization of information and the online environment. She studies metadata in multiple contexts, including those that support long-term preservation of digital information, as well as its access and use; she is co-author on a book on digital preservation, now in its second edition. Moulaison Sandy currently teaches classes in Digital Libraries, Metadata, Organization of Information, and Scholarly Communication. Moulaison Sandy holds a PhD in Information Science from Rutgers and an MSLIS and MA in French, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2017 NDSA Innovation Award Winners

The 2017 awardees were announced at Digital Preservation 2017 in Pittsburgh on October 25, 2017.

Future Steward: Elizabeth England. Elizabeth is recognized for her work as a National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) resident at JHU’s Sheridan Libraries, which has significantly streamlined and advanced the JHU archives’ born-digital processing workflow and has motivated the Libraries to pursue grant funding to develop technology that will allow the community to appraise digital visual content in a more sophisticated way using computer vision techniques such as perceptual hashing.

Individual: Rebecca Guenther. Rebecca is recognized for nurturing conversations among international library stakeholders, conversations that led to the development of MODS, MADS and the enhancement of MARC, helping to build a solid foundation for discovery metadata. All of us in the preservation community have benefited from her leadership in the development of PREMIS metadata for digital preservation.

Individual: Karen Cariani. Karen is recognized for leadership that was crucial in forging a collaboration with the Library of Congress to steward the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, an initiative that has digitized nearly 50,000 hours of historic programming from more than 100 stations. She has been an advocate for collaboration in the development and adoption of shared open-source solutions for digital stewardship, a leader in the NDSA and Hydra/Samvera community, as well as in the project to enhance the Avalon project with support for PBCore, and in developing open-source solutions for speech-to-text and audio waveform analysis.

Organization: Digital Preservation Network. Beyond DPN’s core mission of ensuring the secure preservation of stored content by leveraging a heterogeneous network that spans diverse geographic, technical, and institutional environments, the organization is recognized for its creation, with partner AVPreserve, of its Digital Preservation Workflow Curriculum. The curriculum/workshop series provides a bridge between the desire to participate in digital preservation projects and the capacity to connect local content and resources to that aim, providing a flexible framework for guiding an organization through the necessary decision making processes for establishing a sustainable digital preservation workflow.

Project: ePADD. The ePADD project is recognized for developing an effective, useful, accessible tool that has significantly lowered technical and other resource barriers to appraising, acquiring, processing, and making accessible large email collections for individuals and museums, archives, and libraries, both large and small. It has served as well, as an effective demonstration of the concrete possibilities of working with born-digital textual collections. The project team have also been noted for fostering open collaboration, community-building, and support.

Educator: George Coulbourne. George is recognized for having established, while at the LOC, the Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) program (now a network of 217 digital preservation topical trainers across 33 states in the U.S., the District of Columbia, Australia, and New Zealand) to advance the practice of digital preservation through professional development opportunities such as the three-day DPOE Train-the-Trainer Workshop. The community recognizes his accomplishment in pioneering the National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) program in collaboration with IMLS to cultivate nationwide talent in digital stewardship through a year-long residency that pairs emerging information professionals with cultural heritage institutions facing an array of digital preservation challenges.

Educator: Dorothea Salo. Dorothea is recognized for partnering with Wisconsin libraries — the Cedarburg Public Library, the Wisconsin School for the Deaf, Mineral Point Library and Archives, and the WYOU community television station in Madison — to provide resources and assist in the digitization of at-risk materials. Her development projects, RADD (Recovering Analog and Digital Data), PROUD (Portable Recovery of Unique Data), and PRAVDA (Portably Reformat Audio and Video to Digital from Analog), have extended the reach of digitization and preservation tools to those without the resources of large-scale memory institutions.

2016 NDSA Innovation Award Winners

Our latest awardees were announced at Digital Preservation 2016 in Milwaukee on November 9, 2016. We’re pleased to present our interviews with the awardees linked below:

Future Steward: Samantha Abrams, StoryCorps. Samantha is recognized for her work with the Madison Public Library and its Personal Archiving Lab as well as her initiative to create innovative projects and classes.

Individual: Jarrett Drake, Princeton University. Jarrett is recognized for his work at Princeton and in the community to challenge and re-examine the practices of archiving and documenting history, particularly relating to preserving the underrepresented voices in history.

Individual: Dave Rice, CUNY Television. Dave is recognized for his work in advocating widely for standards and collaboration across countries and organizations as well as his work with nonprofit organizations such as Democracy Now and WITNESS.

Organization: Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners. The MMDP is recognized for its highly original and successful organizational model in fostering innovation sharing and knowledge exchange.

Project: Tribal Stewardship Cohort Program. The project is recognized for its work in providing long-term educational opportunities in digital heritage management and preservation as well as its dedication to culturally responsive and ethically-minded practices.

2015 NDSA Innovation Award Winners

Our 2015 awardees were announced on October 15, 2015.

Future Steward: Lauren Work, VCU Libraries. Lauren is recognized for her work on several projects with the aim of giving VCU Libraries’ collections greater exposure and connecting the Library with the Richmond community. In her short time at VCU, she’s created collaborations and working relationships inside and outside of the library to expose hidden collections in order to further digital preservation.

Individual: Ben Welsh, LA Times. Ben, a reporter and developer at the LA Times, created Past Pages, a project that archives the homepage of a broad swath of new sites’ homepages every hour. This project is something he does in his spare time and it is something he was able to raise money for via Kickstarter. It is an example of the kinds of innovative creative interdisciplinary work that can happen in digital stewardship.

Organization: Digital POWRR. Digital POWRR is recognized for offering standalone advice for implementing a digital preservation program on a need-based spectrum, spanning no funds or technical assistance up though all-in-one preservation and dissemination systems.

Project: Documenting Ferguson. Documenting Ferguson seeks to preserve and make accessible the digital media captured and created by community members, representing diverse perspectives on the events in Ferguson and the resulting social dialogue. By providing long-term access to digital media surrounding recent historical events, this project helps set a new framework for digital preservation.

2012-2014 NDSA Innovation Award Winners

Read our blog posts about the 2014, 2013, and 2012 award recipients.