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Breaking Barriers: DigiPres Mini-Job Fair Redefines Digital Preservation Careers

Breaking Barriers: DigiPres Mini-Job Fair Redefines Digital Preservation Careers

Color photo of top down view of white desk with white keyboard, full coffee mug, cell phone, and note pad. On note pad: NDSA DigiPres logo and handwritten words "Job Fair!"

Nathan Tallman, the digital preservation librarian at Penn State University, witnessed a recurring need within the digital preservation community during his attendance at various preservation conferences.  He often found himself acting as a matchmaker between job seekers and potential employers. At this year’s NDSA’s DigiPres, Tallman is taking proactive steps to address this issue by co-hosting a mini-job fair that will be open to all conference attendees.

The genesis of this mini-job fair (DigiPres, November 15, 2:30pm CT) stems from Tallman’s interactions with job seekers and employers, fueled by a strong conviction that more could be done to facilitate connections within the community. This vision found an outlet in the NDSA’s 2023 DigiPres call for proposals. Tallman submitted a concise yet compelling proposal for the mini-job fair, which was readily accepted by the conference committee. To shape this vision into reality, he promptly partnered with Robin Ruggaber, director of strategic technology partnerships and initiatives at the University of Virginia. 

Ruggaber, with a wealth of experience in mentorship and coaching, recognized the importance of such an initiative.  She explained, “An important component of my job is mentorship and coaching for people.  I’ve reviewed resumes, given feedback, and provided a sounding board for people, so I was really intrigued with the idea and thought, ‘why didn’t we think of this before? It’s such a good idea!’”

Though NDSA, as a non-dues paying organization, may lack the resources to host expansive job fairs, Tallman still felt the time was ripe for this mini-job fair. 

“Other professions have trade shows and job fairs, but we hadn’t really had that in the digital preservation community before,” said Tallman. “We’re maturing as a field, and this is a perfect time for us to start organizing [job fairs] ourselves, even if it’s more of a low key fashion.”

Despite its modest scale, the aspirations for the mini-job fair are grand. Tallman and Ruggaber aim to identify at least five open digital preservation positions and delve into application processes, professional requirements, and expected impacts of successful candidates, both short and long-term. Additionally, they seek to engage digital preservation managers to offer invaluable resume/CV reviews and job search coaching to DigiPres attendees, especially those unfamiliar with navigating the higher education hiring process.

Tallman emphasized, “There’s a social capital advantage for individuals who are familiar with [higher education] that can put up exclusionary barriers in the [hiring] process that aren’t necessary. Part of what we want to do [at the fair] is break those barriers down.” They intend to encourage employers to elucidate job expectations, evaluation criteria, and salary ranges, fostering a more inclusive approach. “We hope that having these important discussions will encourage more talented people to join the field of digital preservation,” Tallman said.

Acknowledging the volatile nature of the job market, the plans for the fair remain flexible. However, Tallman and Ruggaber remain optimistic that this initiative will foster meaningful connections and set a precedent for hiring practices in the digital preservation community. 

Calling all Hiring Managers!

 If you are interested in being a part of this mini-job fair or are aware of open positions that could be highlighted, reach out to Nathan Tallman ( or Robin Ruggaber (

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