Digital Curation FAQ


Published: February 1, 2014 by Alyce Scott

What is digital curation?

Digital curation, although still an evolving concept, can be defined in many ways. In “Digital Curation and Trusted Repositories: Steps toward Success,” Christopher A. Lee and Helen R. Tibbo define digital curation as:

“Digital curation involves selection and appraisal by creators and archivists; evolving provision of intellectual access; redundant storage; data transformations; and, for some materials, a commitment to long-term preservation. Digital curation is stewardship that provides for the reproducibility and re-use of authentic digital data and other digital assets. Development of trustworthy and durable digital repositories; principles of sound metadata creation and capture; use of open standards for file formats and data encoding; and the promotion of information management literacy are all essential to the longevity of digital resources and the success of curation efforts.”

In general it is a term used to indicate the active management of data through its entire lifecycle: maintaining, preserving, and providing access to it as long as it is useful to its community of users. Digital curation is a rapidly developing field that will continue to gain importance in cultural heritage institutions, as they acquire and create digital archives. 

What is the digital curation lifecycle?

The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) has created this graphic depicting high-level overview of the stages required for successful curation and preservation of data.

Who are digital curators?

In cultural heritage institutions, within libraries especially, digital curation responsibilities are being found in specific data curation or digital curation jobs. However, other library jobs are beginning to include some digital curation components.

What do digital curators do?

Some examples of typical responsibilities of digital curators:

  • Selection and appraisal of data to retain
  • Determining the retention schedule
  • Collecting and organizing materials to provide greater access
  • Managing data repositories
  • Creation and application of preservation metadata
  • Curation and preservation of research data

Is digital curation the right path for you?

Yes – if you have a passion for digital collections and want to gain a body of knowledge and skills that will continue to be in demand for the future. The SLIS digital curation pathway, coming in Fall 2014, can help you develop these skills.


Digital Curation Lifecycle:

Lee, C., & Tibbo, H. (2007). Digital Curation and Trusted Repositories: Steps Toward Success. Journal Of Digital Information, 8(2). Retrieved from


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