Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Digital Curation

Published: Thursday, November 13, 2014 by Allison Randall Gatt

The digital curation career pathway at SJSU’s School of Information prepares students for careers in a cutting-edge field in need of experts. With 90% of the world’s information generated in the last two years alone (staggering, isn’t it?), the information world is desperate for people who know how to organize and manage data in a way that makes it both useful and searchable.

School of Information instructor Alyce Scott describes the need for professionals who are able to curate and organize all this information. “Today it seems like everyone is looking for digital curation experts: universities, libraries, archives, museums, governmental agencies, and corporations in particular. The amount of information we create on a daily basis continues to grow faster than we can sort it out. Professionals who have the ability to plan, implement, and manage practices that ensure the long-term integrity and use of digital resources will find that their knowledge is in demand.”

With all the rules and regulations regarding data use in the corporate world, information professionals who have training in digital curation will be competitive candidates for jobs. Museums too are in need of digital curation experts to work as collection managers, registrars, exhibition coordinators, and media managers. The need for digital curators stretches beyond the world of traditional librarianship and into the fields of science, history and business—all in need of experts to organize, provide access to, and manage data.

Is digital curation the career path for you? A driving interest in organizing information is a good place to start. Says Scott, “I think that a good curator is someone who excels at organization and has a passion for creating not simply access to data, but context and meaning as well.”

Recommended coursework in the digital curation pathway follows seminars in archives and records management. Specific seminars to enroll on if digital curation is a path you’d like to follow are the LIBR 284 Seminar in Archives and Record Management topics of Digital Curation, Tools, Services, and Methodologies for Digital Curation and MARA 284: Seminar in Archives and Records Management with the topic of Information Assurance. Related topics in LIBR 220 Resource and Information Services in Professions and Disciplines help round out the coursework as well.

When choosing electives, Scott encourages students who want to pursue a career in digital curation to look for iSchool courses that link with their passion for certain subjects, such as curating digital assets in the form of photography, music, or film. MLIS students who want to pursue the digital curation career pathway may also want to consider taking electives from the school’s Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) program. MLIS students can take MARA electives, and MARA students can take MLIS electives – and all courses in both programs are fully online.

The iSchool Digital Curation Career Pathway in the MLIS program focuses on digital records, much like courses offered through the MARA program, and Scott encourages what she calls “cross-pollination,” choosing electives from both programs. She also explains the different approach to curating digital assets in each program. Says Scott, “Digital curation within the MLIS degree focuses on the curation of the digital objects themselves and their meaning, not specifically records management (which is the focus of the MARA program). Having an understanding of basic records management and the basics of digital curation can enhance the skills of both MLIS and MARA students.”

As the amount of digital information increases and regulations governing information management continue to be written into law and need to be implemented, the need for experts to research the effects of long-term preservation of digital assets is increasingly in demand.

The field of digital curation is still evolving, and the iSchool is excited to offer this career pathway in order to equip graduates with the skills to be at the top of their profession.

Scott’s post on the iSchool’s Center for Information Research and Innovation Blog provides a definition of digital curation, answers frequently asked questions and provides a fascinating chart illustrating the digital curation lifecycle, to give you an idea of where information starts, and how digital assets are organized, accessed and preserved.

The digital curation pathway was added to the School of Information’s Post-Master’s Certificate program early this year and added as a new pathway for MLIS students this fall.

Does the evolving and expanding field of digital curation sound exciting to you? Tell us all about your ideas and goals in this intriguing profession!


Over the next several months, we’ll take a look at a few of the different career pathways offered through the School of Information’s MLIS program. With the exception of LIBR 203 and the other three core courses, as well as LIBR 285, and either a thesis or eportfolio (to make a total of six required courses), the classes you take are your choice—whatever you feel best shapes your career direction, skills and passions. It is always a good idea to discuss your coursework with your academic advisor, and together you can map out a list of classes that will suit your chosen career goals.

For more related content, check out:

Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Information Intermediation

All About the MARA Program—Courses and Careers in Information Governance

Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Youth Services

image courtesy of rajcreationzs

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