Preservation Publication Award Special Commendation: Karl-Rainer Blumenthal, Peggy Griesinger, Julia Kim, Shira Peltzman, and Vicky Rampin

Karl-Rainer Blumenthal, web archivist at the Internet Archive; Peggy Griesinger, head of metadata initatives at University of Notre Dame; Julia Kim, digital projects coordinator and program manager at the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress; Shira Peltzman, digital archivist for Library Special Collections at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Vicky Rampin, librarian for Research Data Management and Reproducibility at New York University, received a Preservation Publication Award Special Commendation from the Society of American Archivists (SAA) for their article, “What's Wrong with Digital Stewardship: Evaluating the Organization of Digital Preservation Programs from Practitioners' Perspectives.” The commendation recognizes excellence in a published work on archival preservation.

The article, published in volume 7 of the Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies, offers a nuanced report on the increasing dissatisfaction expressed by digital archivists about their work experiences and a call for a fair and effective restructuring of the role digital stewardship plays in many institutions. The article reviews results from surveys conducted by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance from 2012 to 2018 that target archival practitioners in all positions, not just administrative roles. The authors write that “even as the field of digital stewardship is entering a period of operational maturity, practitioners largely consider digital stewardship values and goals to be misunderstood at an organizational level” and that there is a gap between senior organizational leaders and digital stewardship practitioners in terms of attitudes toward and satisfaction with digital stewardship and preservation programs. “What’s Wrong” identifies problems contributing to the dissatisfaction and offers solutions for issues of labor distribution, salary equity, inclusion, and long-term planning that institutional leaders can implement. In doing so, this article is useful not only to archivists but to any professional concerned with the management of digital assets.

The Awards Committee commends the authors for the importance of this work to the archival profession. One committee member stated that this article “foregrounds and elevates the day-to-day lived experiences of practitioners who are actively engaged in digital stewardship where former research has focused on administrators.” Another declared that this article “best described many practioners’ frustrations in doing preservation work effectively. It is a seminal work that highlights, in no uncertain terms, why digital preservationists are burning out. It should be required reading at all institutions addressing digital preservation challenges, particularly for administrators.”