The School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and School of Government (SOG) at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) held a day-long symposium called "Preparing Stewards of Public Information in a Digital World" on January 15, 2010 from 8-5 in the Warren Jake Wicker Classroom of Knapp-Sanders Building on the UNC-CH campus. The symposium included panel discussions and other interactive sessions related to lessons and strategies for professional preparation to engage in public information stewardship.
Panelists contributed insights based on extensive experience in a variety of professional contexts. They included:
- Richard Barry, management consultant (recently retired), author, and cofounder of the OpenReader Consortium
- Earl Bunting, Director, Internet Technology Services, City of Jacksonville, NC
- Duncan Friend, Director of Enterprise Technology Initiatives, Kansas Department of Administration
- Alex Hess, Librarian of the Joseph Palmer Knapp Library, SOG, UNC-CH
- Robert Horton, State Archivist and Director, Library, Publications and Collections, Minnesota Historical Society
- Cal Lee, Assistant Professor, SILS, UNC-CH
- Denny McGuire, Technical Policy Manager, State of North Carolina, Office of Information Technology Services
- Richard Marciano, Professor at SILS, Senior Scientist at Renaissance Computing Initiative, and Executive Director of Data Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE) Center, UNC-CH
- Theresa Pardo, Director of the Center for Technology in Government
- Carl Stenberg, Professor of Public Administration and Government/ Director, Master of Public Administration Program, SOG, UNC-CH
- Helen Tibbo, Professor, SILS, UNC-CH
- Shannon Tufts, Lecturer and Director of the Center for Public Technology, SOG, UNC-CH
- Victoria Irons Walch, Executive Director, Council of State Archivists
The themes of the day included persistent issues in the stewardship of electronic records; the "policy game" – what it is and how to play it successfully; advancing professional values through IT policies and systems; and professional education – context and strategies of SILS and the SOG at UNC.
The symposium was part of Educating Stewards of Public Information in the 21st Century (ESOPI-21), which is a three-year collaboration between SILS and the SOG at UNC-CH, sponsored by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
ESOPI-21 is based on the belief that the stewardship of public information is a fundamental responsibility of a democratic society. Public information (e.g. agency records, government publications, datasets) serves as evidence of governmental activities, decisions, and responsibilities at the local, county, state, and federal levels. Providing appropriate access to public information promotes accountability, rights of citizens, effective administration of policy, and social memory.
Archivists, records managers, librarians and other information professionals are often directly charged with ensuring that public information is accessible and meaningful over time. However, the distributed nature of both government and modern information systems places responsibility for the stewardship of public information into the hands of many other professionals, including those who develop, implement and interpret public policies.
Public officials and public servants must increasingly make and enact decisions related to information systems; this requires an understanding of the ways in which people, information and technology can best complement each other. At the same time, information professionals are increasing required to engage in policy discussions and processes, in order to carry out their duties responsibly and effectively; this requires an understanding of the history, principles, processes and methods of public administration.
ESOPI-21 is developing educational and professional engagement opportunities to prepare for the stewardship of public information and the integration of policy with information technology solutions and workflows. It is funding graduate-level Fellows, who pursuing dual degrees at SILS and the SOG, and providing internships for the Fellows at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Archives and Records Section (NC-ARS), and UNC-CH’s University Archives. The project builds on the work and accomplishments of the DigCCurr I & II (Digital Curation Curriculum) projects, which were also funded by the IMLS. ESOPI-21 is also benefiting from the extensive knowledge of experts who compose its Advisory Board, and who served as panelists at the January 15 symposium.