The Library of Congress: Meeting the Challenge of Digital Preservation
It took two centuries for the Library of Congress to acquire its 29 million books and 105 million other items: manuscripts, motion pictures, sound recordings, maps, prints, photographs. Today it takes only 15 minutes for the world to produce an equal amount of information in digital form.
This staggering statistic looms over our urgent need to collect and preserve our nation's cultural and historical record that is increasingly being produced digitally and in no other form. Collecting these so-called born-digital materials is essential if the Library of Congress is to continue to fulfill its role in the 21st century to preserve and sustain a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.
While the Library alone cannot collect, preserve and make available all the digital information that is worth saving and is at risk of loss, the Library is meeting the challenge of digital preservation in many different ways:
- Content Transfer
The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) is meeting the challenge by exploring ways to transfer valuable digital cultural heritage materials to the Library.
- Digital Content Transfer Tools
The Library of Congress has developed new tools to transfer large quantities of digital content.
- Digital Formats Sustainability: A Work in Progress
There are now vastly larger amounts of information created in a greater variety of formats than ever before, making it increasingly difficult for libraries to identify what is of value and ensure its longevity over time.
- Federal Agencies Digitzation Guidelines Part 1
The Library of Congress, with several federal partners, has launched a collaborative Web site about Digitization Guidelines.
- Federal Agencies Digitzation Guidelines Part 2
The Library of Congress, with several federal partners, has launched a collaborative Web site about Digitization Guidelines. The Still Image group will focus on developing guidelines for the activities associated with digital imaging and encoding, as well as handling metadata that will be embedded in digital files.
- Federal Agencies Digitzation Guidelines Part 3
The Library of Congress, with several federal partners, has launched a collaborative Web site about Digitization Guidelines. Identifying and documenting the best practices for digitizing sound, video recordings and motion picture film is the specific challenge faced by the Audio-Visual Working Group, a component of the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative.
- Flickr Pilot Project
The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division collections are known for their great photographic treasures – with over 1 million digitized items currently available online. Beginning in January 2008, the Library joined forces with the popular photo sharing site Flickr to provide a new avenue to the Library’s photos and build new levels of interaction with the public.
- Geospatial Information
The Library of Congress is meeting the challenge by providing venues for partners to share knowledge and experience about digital preservation. NDIIPP co-principle investigator Steve Morris of North Carolina State University Libraries presented an informative tutorial at the Library of Congress on preserving geospatial data.
- Metadata for Digital Content
Consistent and rich metadata are needed in order to improve search of the Library’s collections and provide web services that users have come to expect. To address the challenges in this area, the Metadata for Digital Content group was formed at the Library in March 2009.
- The National Digital Newspaper Program
The National Digital Newspaper Program is a partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize and provide enhanced access to rare regional newspapers from around the country.
- The National Digital Stewardship Alliance
The National Digital Stewardship Alliance is a partnership of institutions and organizations dedicated to preserving and providing access to selected databases, web pages, video, audio and other digital content with enduring value.
- Placing Trust in Organizations: San Diego Supercomputer Center
Can you trust an organization to manage and store your most valuable digital assets? The Library engaged the San Diego Supercomputer Center in a one-year demonstration project to test the feasibility of engaging external partners as service providers to fill digital management needs.
- PREMIS for Digital Preservation
Behind every digital object, there is usually metadata with descriptive information about the object. But the library world is all too aware that metadata for access and discovery is no longer enough. Now, digital library professionals are looking to the future with an eye towards preservation and looking at PREMIS.
- Preserving Audiovisual Works: The Packard Campus
The Library of Congress holds the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of audiovisual works, and is meeting the challenge to collect and preserve this valuable cultural heritage in the digital environment.
- Saving the World Wide Web
The Library of Congress recognized the cultural heritage value of Web-based materials at an early date and has been actively exploring ways to collect, preserve and provide access to these materials.
- Setting Standards, Pt. 1 (Office Open XML and PDF/A)
The Library of Congress is meeting the challenge by being actively engaged in supporting the development of several key open standards for digital content, including Office Open XML and PDF/A.
- Setting Standards, Pt. 2 (JPEG2000)
The Library of Congress is meeting the challenge by being actively engaged in supporting the development of several key open standards for digital content, including JPEG2000.
- Students Archiving the Web
During the spring of 2008, students from three schools in Louisiana, California and Illinois participated in a K-12 Web Archiving pilot to select and capture Web content.
- World Digital Library: A Portal to the World
The World Digital Library makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.