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What is a Digital Curator?


Allow me to introduce myself — my name is Doug Reside, and in February I became the first Digital Curator for the Performing Arts at The New York Public Library. The position of Digital Curator is a fairly new one (not just at NYPL, but in the world in general), and those of us who hold the title do different kinds of things depending on the particular needs of our institutions. I thought it might be useful, then, for me to explain what it means for NYPL to have created this position, and how it will benefit you as a user of our collections.

Traditionally, curators are responsible for acquiring material for a collection, preserving these materials for future generations, helping users locate items from the collection and providing contextual information so they can better understand them, and designing exhibits for the benefit and enjoyment of the public. As digital curator, I will do most of these things as well, but I have specifically made it my mission to:

  1. make as much of our collection available online as copyright law, professional ethics, and our budget permits
  2. provide both contextual information and software tools to make our digital collections as useful as possible
  3. improve methods for preserving and providing access to the "born digital"  materials (word processor files, digital musical scores, 3d set designs, etc.) that are now part of the creative history of most contemporary works of art

There's a lot of work to do, obviously, and we have a dedicated but very small staff to do it. Already, though, some very exciting things are happening, and I can't wait to tell you about a few of them in the very near future. In the meantime, I'm eager to hear from you about what you want from your performing arts library's digital collections.

You can find me on Twitter @lpa_dig_curator or email me at




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Great infromation

WOW... I cannot imagine the complexity of digitizing the NYPL. But, it sounds like a great job with the chance to "rediscover" lots of hidden treasures.

Pretty amuseum

Pretty amuseum curator of physical objects, but of digital objects.

Like a Digital Asset Manager?

This article's pretty old, but I'm hoping my comment will get some attention. I'm curious as to how this title has evolved in the last few years. I'm an information and library science student currently studying at Pratt Institute, gearing my studies towards Digital Asset Management. The DAM position can be described using the same terms Doug used to describe Digital Curator. Could the difference between the two be related to how public the collection of digital assets are meant to be?

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