NCDC Insider: Meet Archivist, Jason Cooper

Photo of NCDC Archivist Jason Cooper

NCDC Archivist Jason Cooper

As the world’s largest active archive of weather and climate data, it is crucial for NCDC’s Asheville, North Carolina, location to have an expert team of data stewards that preserves and manages the Center’s physical and digital data and information. Since 1997, Jason Cooper has worked in some capacity to support the Center’s mission, most recently as a Technical Information Specialist in the Archive Branch.

Jason did not have one particular weather event or phenomenon that sparked his interest in the field or his decision to earn a Bachelor’s in meteorology from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. Rather, as he put it, he had “a deep appreciation for how the weather impacts people on a daily basis.” Over time, his appreciation for understanding weather’s influence on a daily basis evolved to include how it affects people on seasonal and decadal timescales.

Although he is a meteorologist at heart, Jason’s expertise is ensuring that NCDC follows best practices and regulations in archive management. On a daily basis, this entails managing the physical archive, where he engages with partners to convert records into digital files, and improving the inventory database for more effective discovery of NCDC’s holdings. Additionally, his work involves the appraisal and disposition stages of the digital data lifecycle. Data management at NCDC relies on what datasets are taken in and on the long-term commitment to the stewardship of that data. This is where Jason looks to best practices and capability analyses to inform archive policies.

Jason is both humbled and challenged by his responsibility to preserve NCDC’s weather and climate data. He believes every data value is important to have a greater understanding of climate and that it is important to take advantage of opportunities to expose data to the climate community. This past spring at NCDC, Jason and his team completed a large-scale consolidation of the physical archive holdings by working with the National Archive and Records Administration to certify digitally imaged data files as the official records and removing duplicate physical records from the file. His big project since then has been working to strengthen partnerships that help convert the physical archives to digital data. Soon, he hopes to refocus on records scheduling, a major effort where he will work to establish a retention schedule for all of NCDC’s data and records.

Jason’s biggest challenge is keeping up with the ever-changing skill sets necessary for his job. They range from web page development to records management to archives management. On top of retraining to meet these specific skills, Jason will graduate with a Master’s degree in archives management this August. 

Outside of work, Jason is a husband and father of three boys, ages 11, 9, and 8. He is an avid soccer player in the local adult league and a coach in the youth league. He successfully manages all of this, his commitments as a Master’s student, and the archives at NCDC.

Stay tuned for the next edition of NCDC Insider to meet more of the Center’s dedicated staff.