Given the scope of the challenges faced by digital curators in acquiring soft and hard skills, SIRLS and ASLAPR felt that an extended in-depth venue, such as a multi-course graduate certificate program (Markey, 2004; My burgh, 2003; Syverson & Welch, 1997; Van House & Sutton, 1996), was the best way to achieve those objectives.
The overall aim of the SIRLS program has been to establish a functional approach in teaching digital information management, by which we mean an explicitly interdisciplinary approach firmly grounded in the practice of digital curation.
Jana Bradley, grant consultant and former technology curriculum developer Bruce Fulton, and archivist Richard Pearce-Moses representing ASLAPR, in consultation with SIRLS faculty and other State Library consultants.
Recruitment for the first year was conducted mainly through listservs and at library conferences where SIRLS had a presence.
Course development commenced immediately, at first using a local committee of faculty, staff, and experts from SIRLS and ASLAPR and instructional support units within the University of Arizona specializing in curriculum development.
General course development, structure, and delivery for DigIn was patterned after the SIRLS master's program, which has been providing face-to-face, online, and blended deliveries for nearly two decades.
IRLS 672, the first course developed, is the responsibility of Bruce Fulton, MLS, formerly a private sector technology CIO and now a SIRLS Ph.
For these reasons, SIRLS elected to pursue grant funding that would lead to implementation of a pilot "sandbox" project featuring centralized deployment of virtual servers and server environments that could be used to supplement what the students were doing with home virtualization.
SIRLS was also intrigued by the body of anecdotal evidence from blogs and course evaluations that the hands-on components of the courses might be having a significant impact on student perceptions of technology, willingness to attempt further technology coursework, and interest in jobs that required greater technical fluency.
After receiving IMLS funding for the virtual lab project, SIRLS selected VMWare's Lab Manager running under VMWare VCenter 4 to serve as their primary sandbox architecture.
SIRLS is also in the process of creating a template of the Digital Library of Information Science and Technology (DLIST), maintained by the University of Arizona Library and SIRLS, for use in classroom instruction.
SIRLS anticipates that four to six master's classes per semester will use the lab for some aspect of instruction in addition to the DigIn classes.