Christine Borgman: Expert on Digital Stewardship Keynotes Event at Library of Congress

Borgman is the author of the upcoming “Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World,” to be released this year by MIT Press.

Christine Borgman, professor and Presidential Chair in UCLA’s Department of Information Studies, addressed the Capstone Meeting of the National Digital Stewardship Residency on May 28 in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The residency program, which concluded its inaugural year at the meeting, is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The program places ten recent postgraduates in field experiences at the residency’s partner institutions, which include the Folger Shakespeare Library, the World Bank Group Archives, and the Public Broadcasting Service.

Professor Borgman delivered her keynote titled, “Big Data, Big Opportunities,” which focused on how stakeholders in digital stewardship can improve the sustainability of research data by taking a knowledge infrastructures approach. She addressed the importance of data as “evidence of phenomena for the purposes of research or scholarship.” She says that the NDSR program provides essential opportunities to develop a workforce with the social, technical, economic, and policy expertise to address the longevity of digital data.

“Unless properly cared for, digital data quickly rot away,” says Borgman. “We risk a ‘digital dark age,’ as these assets reach the end of their lifespans on current technologies. Digital content must be migrated to new environments as each generation of hardware and software becomes obsolete. Investments in metadata, provenance information, and standards can add value. However, not all data are sustainable.

“Knowing what to keep, what to discard, how, and when, are all professional judgments in digital stewardship. In turn, these decisions must be made in the context of the knowledge infrastructures in which data are created, used, and reused by future generations.”

Dr. Borgman is the author of “Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World,” which will be released this year by MIT Press. She has co-authored numerous works with her Knowledge Infrastructures research team on the uses of research data in sensor networked science, astronomy, and the subsea biosphere for PlosONE, the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), Plos Computational Biology, Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Social Studies of Science, and other journals and conferences. Her earlier books, “Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2007) and “From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access to Information in the Networked World” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2000) both were recognized with the Best Information Science Book of the Year Award from the American Society for Information Science and Technology.


Photo by Todd Cheney, UCLA