Digital Curation at the University of Maine
"A national standard for the study of digital curation." *
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Do you manage digital files in an archive, museum, library, studio, business, or government office? This innovative distance learning program could be for you. Our students learn how to collect, make accessible via database and Web site, and preserve digitized and born-digital assets, from VHS tapes to JPEGs to Word documents.

Fall 2016 courses

DIG 500 Introduction to Digital Curation

Dig500 Wordle Tag Cloud WarmReturning this fall is our introductory class in the sequence, which surveys the full course of the curatorial workflow, from acquisition to preservation. More...

DIG 540 Digital Collections and Exhibitions

Dig540 Wordle Tag Cloud WarmLearn how to store your collection in a database and put that collection online using PHP and MySQL. More...

Registration is open!

You can register for a single class or the entire certificate.

Digital Curation News (from the Still Water blog)

Once dusty storehouses of antique patrimony, today museums are forced to re-imagine themselves for an age where culture is shared from smartphone to smartphone. Recent Still Water publications on reinventing museums for the 21st century are cropping ...

A Still Water project by Jon Ippolito aimed at linking thematically similar academic essays across the Web has been awarded an initial grant of $10,000 by the Thoma Foundation. Founding philanthropists Carl and Marilynn Thoma also hosted a presentati...

In a world where a search box is usually the only way to enter an online archive, John Bell builds wrecking balls that tear down the walls between institutional silos. His latest project, a collaboration with Dartmouth and UMaine’s VEMI lab, ha...

As visiting luminary for the UMaine Digital Curation graduate program’s fall 2015 teleconference, Craig Dietrich challenged its students to consider how culturally sensitive archives and linked data can break the monoculture of one-size-fits-al...

In 2015 Re-collection: Art, New Media and Social Memory continued to gather attention from libraries, universities, and the press. This just-published MIT Press book by Richard Rinehart and Still Water Co-Director Jon Ippolito surveys new paradigms a...

Scholars assess the spatial dimensions of the Holocaust, how to tell stories with real-time games, and how Satan went viral in Salem at the 2015 Digital Humanities Week from 21-25 September. The 2015 Digital Humanities Week investigates mapping as a ...

You shouldn’t prepare to be a librarian or curator with outdated tools, any more than you should study to be a doctor with a hacksaw and leaches. That’s why the University of Maine’s Digital Curation graduate program integrates cutt...

Good news for anyone who needs more skills for managing a collection but doesn’t live near one of the few universities that offer them. The University of Maine has just announced a new discount for distant students in its online Digital Curatio...

The University of Maine’s Digital Curation program has already earned acclaim from its students, while the Education Advisory Board recognized it fulfills “a growing need in the public and private sectors” as employer demand for dig...

If you’re over 30, chances are you’ve stumbled on a CD-ROM, game cartridge, or floppy disk in a box that you’d like to access but can’t, because you’ve long gotten rid of the hardware that went with it. Maybe you imagine...

Who needs digital curation?

  • An archivist in a photographer's studio wants to put a database of vintage sailing photos online but doesn't know where to start.
  • A librarian is acquiring hundreds of born-digital files but doesn't know which of the dozens of metadata schemes to apply to this collection.
  • A town official is feeling pressure to keep digital records but isn't sure what formats will be accessible in the long term.
  • A curator in a museum dedicated to Native traditions is worried that her recordings of indigenous stories will be lost once the audio cassettes are no longer playable, and she's unsure how to catalogue them or migrate them to new formats.

Var Confusing Strategies Parti VgaThere is a growing need in many areas of the public and private sector for better understanding of and training in the selection, preservation, maintenance, and archiving of digital resources.

The University of Maine's Digital Curation certificate provides a critical skill-set for employees and employers that prepares them to address pressing data and material management issues while positioning them and their business or institution for the future.

Program Curriculum

The Digital Curation curriculum offers students the opportunity to complete an 18-credit course of study leading to a certificate, or to choose individual courses most relevant to their interests and career.

The curriculum's conceptual trajectory traces the stages that a curator typically follows when caring for an artifact: acquiring it; representing it with metadata, making it accessible via a database-driven Web site; and preserving it in the long term.

1. Acquisition

Related themes: digitization, recording, selection, law

DIG 500: Introduction to Digital Curation

DIG 500 is both an introduction to essential concepts in the field and a practicum in the first phase of the curation workflow, namely the acquisition of digital files. The class surveys the variety of digital artifacts that we consciously or unconsciously create and consume today, with a focus on how to collect and manage digitized and born-digital artifacts and their related data. Students learn technical skills such as how to digitize analog documents, photographs, and videos, as well as curatorial knowledge such as how selection criteria vary as a function of type of institution (archives v. libraries v. museums) and field (art v. archeology). The course also reviews methods for ensuring the ongoing integrity of the artifact and laws governing the acquisition and use of intellectual property, such as how copyright extends to images, editions, and future versions of a work. 3 credits. No prerequisites. Syllabus

Next offered in fall 2016

2. Representation

Related themes: documentation, metadata

Simon Colorpanels C SmaDIG 510: Metadata

This course surveys current standards for describing and encoding artifacts in terms that aid their future discovery or preservation. The class covers digital formats for describing the contents and contexts of artifacts with an emphasis on their use in libraries, archives, and online repositories. The syllabus includes both particular metadata standards such as Dublin Core and OAI as well as their expression in different markup languages such as HTML, XML, and RDF. 3 credits. DIG 500 strongly recommended. Syllabus

Next offered in spring 2016

3. Access

Related themes: database, collection, presentation, network

DIG 540 Digital Collections and Exhibitions

This course covers the technical means and social consequences of assembling and sharing cultural data and artifacts. Topics can include the fundamentals of relational databases; a survey of collection management packages, both proprietary and open-source; case studies of Web-based collection portals--their successes and failures; and centralized and distributed paradigms for inter-institutional networks (ARTStor, OAI, Semantic Web, Metaserver). DIG 510 strongly recommended. Syllabus

Next offered in fall 2016

Qualified students may substitute these advanced courses in database management:

SIE 507: Information Systems Software Engineering / COS 480: Database Management Systems

4. Preservation

Related themes: obsolescence, conservation, media formats

Vmq Facts OpinionsDIG 550: Digital Preservation

This course acquaints students with the challenges of, and best practices for, preserving digital artifacts. Topics can include a survey of the (sometimes bewildering) array of formats for digital media, along with their vulnerabilities and half-lives; analysis of various preservation strategies (storage, migration, emulation, reinterpretation); institutional, legal, and practical impediments to preservation; preservation standards and resources for digital media (Media Matters, Variable Media Questionnaire). DIG 540 strongly recommended. Syllabus

Next offered in spring 2016

5. Internship

DIG 580: Digital Curation Internship

Related themes: fieldwork, placement, community

Seeing Dou WeinbrenThis course offers students the opportunity to work directly with an institution in the field to research and implement a solution for one or more of the stages of digital curation. A dedicated instructor might supervise a period of directed reading followed by fieldwork.

Students can also choose from numerous courses already on the books depending on their interests and the opportunities available:

MSE 497: Independent Study in Museum Studies/Museum Education

Advanced independent study or research and writing projects in Museum Studies, Museum Education or related areas. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisites & Notes: MSE 200 or permission of instructor. 1-3 credits

SIE 590: Information Systems Internship

Utilization of knowledge gained from the information systems graduate program within a business, non-profit or government organization and acquisition of practical training. See also some of the internship opportunities provided by collaborating businesses and agencies in Maine. Prerequisites & Notes: Successful completion of nine credits of required courses in the MSIS program. 3-6 credits

NMD 597: Independent Study in New Media

Graduate level study and research in New Media or related areas directed by a graduate faculty member in New Media. Prerequisites & Notes: Graduate Standing and permission. 3 credits

HTY 597: Field Work in Historical Institutions

Field work in local museums, state agencies, and other historic laboratories. Involves preparation and repair of exhibits, research and preparation of historic preservation documents, and beginning archival and artifact handling. Prerequisites & Notes: graduate students, senior history majors and others by permission. 3 credits.

Maine Immigrants America Sma6. Elective

To achieve a cumulative course load of 18 credits, students can choose from a number of approved electives for their sixth course, including these courses:

COS 430: Introduction to Cybersecurity

An overview of Cybersecurity as information security, policies, guidelines, and legal issues; the nature of network and computer attacks, system vulnerabilities and defense; implementation issues in Unix/Linux. Projects include system setup, attack, and defense. Prerequisites & Notes: COS 335 and COS 431. 3 credits.

EDT 545: Information Security in the Educational Environment

Covers privacy and security in the educational environment from several perspectives: legal issues, social and ethical concerns, standards and policy development. Prerequisites & Notes: EDT 520 or permission of instructor. 3 credits.

INT 400: Pop! Tech: The Impact of Technology on Society

A unique, interdisciplinary, online experience designed around the annual Pop! Tech Conference in Camden, Maine. Explores the impact of technology on society, environment, governance, ethics, and other aspects of our personal, professional, and civic lives -- both for our world today and the future we have a hand in shaping. Prerequisites & Notes: Junior standing or permission. 3 credits.

PAA 516: Information Technology and Public Policy

Impact and design of information systems in public and non-profit organizations. Prerequisites & Notes: Graduate Students or permission. 3 credits.

SIE 515: Human Computer Interaction

Students are introduced to the fundamental theories and concepts of human-computer interaction (HCI). Topics covered include: interface design and evaluation, usability and universal design, multimodal interfaces (touch, gesture, natural language), virtual reality, and spatial displays. Prerequisites & Notes: SIE or MSIS graduate student or permission of instructor. 3 credits.

SIE 525: Information Systems Law

Current and emerging status of computer law in electronic environments: rights of privacy, freedom of information, confidentiality, work product protection, copyright, security, legal liability; impact of law on use of databases and spatial datasets; legal options for dealing with conflicts and adaptations of law over time. Prerequisites & Notes: Graduate standing or instructor permission. 3 credits.

SIE 550: Engineering Databases and Information Systems

Theoretical foundation for the representation of knowledge in information systems and logic-based programming as a tool for fast prototyping. Object-oriented modeling and database schema design for engineering applications. Database management systems and their suitability for engineering data, transaction concepts and query languages, including SQL. Prerequisites & Notes: Graduate standing or permission of instructor.


You can register for a single class or as part of the Graduate Certificate just by following the instructions in this easy online application.

Applicants for the entire Certificate should also email ude.eniam@otiloppij a 3-5 paragraph statement describing the digital curation challenges you have encountered in your past or future life/work, and how you think our program might help you overcome those challenges.

Certificate applicants will also need to request a transcript from your undergraduate or graduate school. Though many of our students will have a Masters degree, only a BA is required.


Tuition for in-state students is $400 per credit hour, or about $1200 per class. Tuition for out-of-state or international students is normally higher, but the program occasionally offers such students a discount to the in-state rate for those accepted to the certificate (plus a small processing fee).

Although the certificate is designed to be completed in two years, part-time students may choose to spread the 18 credits (6 courses) over a longer period, or take a course individually as needed.

To make things easier for students currently working in collecting institutions, the final course is an internship that may take place in the student's own workplace. Also, for teachers and librarians, school districts sometimes offer salary incentives for credits accumulated above the BA or MA.


The following UMaine faculty members are contributors to the Digital Curation program:

  • John Bell, Assistant Professor of Digital Curation, UMaine/Dartmouth Research Commons
  • Desiree Butterfield-Nagy, Archivist, Cohen Collection, Fogler Library
  • Gretchen Faulkner, Director, Hudson Museum
  • Richard Judd, Professor, Department of History
  • Richard Hollinger, Head, Special Collections, Fogler Library
  • Jon Ippolito, Professor, Department of New Media
  • Pauleena MacDougall, Director, Maine Folklife Center
  • Curtis Meadow, Adjunct, Department of Computer Sciences
  • Silvia Nittel, Associate Professor, Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering
  • Harlan Onsrud, Professor, Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering
  • Justin Wolff, Associate Professor, Department of Art

Praise for our program

Mystified by metadata? Perplexed by preservation? The University of Maine's Digital Curation program has you covered, at least to judge from these reviews from student evaluations:

  • "The DIG program is off to a terrific start as a national standard for the study of digital curation."
  • "Being able to read from Re-collection: New Media and Social Memory, while given lessons by one of the book's authors...that's just fantastic!"
  • "Well-ordered sequence, and an abundance of reading and informal exchange without an overemphasis on scholarly responses."
  • "The instructors are approachable, personable, and collegial with students."
  • "The breadth of [the instructors'] experience and knowledge (to say nothing of the eloquence, informativeness, and wit of their text) have made me feel that this first, inaugural class will be saying 'we were there when'..."

Frequently Asked Questions

What is digital curation?

Digital curation means keeping track of the digital materials--text, photos, music, movies, data--you collect in your home and workplace. In the digital era, this maintenance requires skills, strategies, and policies that are different than how traditional offices, libraries, and archives are managed.

Is the Digital Curation program right for me?

Our program is a two-year graduate certificate, taught online, intended for folks working in museums, archives, artist studios, government offices, and anywhere that people need to manage digital files. The program walks students through the phases of managing digitized or born-digital artifacts, including acquisition, representation, access, and preservation.

How might someone use digital curation in the workplace?

Say you're a photo archivist. These courses would answer questions like how to scan analog photos into a database, how to add metadata to make them searchable online, and how to cope with the rapid obsolescence of the software and hardware used to catalogue them.

What class should I take first?

Our introductory course, DIG 500 (Introduction to Digital Curation), is offered in September. This first course covers how digital artifacts are made, acquired into collections, and tracked, including legal and technical considerations.

How do I apply?

Follow the instructions under the Register option.

Do I have to take the full two-year certificate?

Although the certificate is designed to be completed in two years, part-time students may choose to spread the 18 credits (6 courses) over a longer period. And you can cherry-pick any individual courses that appeal to you.

My workplace needs curation badly. How quickly can I apply what I learn in this program?

You're in luck. To make things easier for students currently working in collecting institutions, we have designed the final course as an internship that may take place in the student's own workplace.

Are there any scholarships or financial aid?

We're offering a limited-time but hefty tuition discount to international and out-of-state students.

Even if this isn't enough, we have tried to make the program as affordable as possible. For example, as one way to encourage outside sponsorship, we have designed the final course as an internship that may take place in the student's own workplace. Our hope was that a collecting institution might cover part or all of the tuition, since it would benefit from both the student's added expertise and the actual work done for the internship.

As an added incentive, our understanding is that many school districts offer salary incentives for credits accumulated above the BA or MA in programs like ours.

How much work does a course require?

Budget something like 2-5 hours of reading / viewing / assignments per week, though that depends entirely on the instructors.

Do I ever need to come to your campus?

Our program doesn't require you to come to our campus at any time--though we'd be delighted to meet you. As an online curriculum, there are no required synchronous times. In other words, there are deadlines by which you should have done the readings, contributed to online discussions, or posted assignments--but otherwise you can do it all on your own time.

That said, we try to schedule some synchronous times when everyone can video- or text-chat using Adobe Connect or a similar program, though these are optional. And of course we'd be delighted to meet you on the Orono campus anytime!

Do I have to take courses in sequence?

The courses in the Digital Curation program are designed to flow from beginning to end. That said, we do our best to make each syllabus accessible to first-time students. That means you don't need any prerequisites to take any course.

How can I keep up with news about the program?

You can also follow us on Twitter as @DigitCurator, or contact us with specific questions or to be put on our email newsletter.

For more information

For more information, please contact Jon Ippolito at 207 581-4477 or ude.eniam@otiloppij