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Digital Preservation

The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > News Archive > NDIIPP at the DAPS Workshop

October 1, 2008 -- Representatives from the Library of Congress met with prominent academics and private sector participants on September 22, 2008 in Baltimore for the Digital Archive Preservation and Sustainability 2008 Workshop (external link).

Held in conjunction with the IEEE Mass Storage Systems and Technologies Conference (external link), the DAPS workshop explored the inherent tensions found in balancing digital storage costs while improving the ability of storage system administrators to ensure the integrity and authenticity of a rapidly increasing quantity of stored items.

Information Technology Specialist Jane Mandelbaum and National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program Director of Program Management Martha Anderson participated in the workshop on behalf of the Library of Congress. Their presentation and paper, “Planning for the ‘Long Term’… Library Time,” (PDF, 76KM) focused on the challenges facing the Library as it looks to preserve digital cultural heritage into the future, overcoming an array of technical and logistical challenges in the process.

They noted that libraries have managed to preserve as much as they have due largely to the dedication and proactive efforts of individual librarians/archivists and the institutions which support them. Additionally, a continuity of standards, and a commitment to the value of those standards, has enabled the relatively smooth transferal of collections from generation to generation. This continuity of information management has had a strong role in supporting continued access to historical resources, which in turn provides a key justification for preservation.

Other LC-invited federal government participants, including the National Library of Medicine, the National Agriculture Library, and the National Science Foundation, made presentations describing their efforts to provide permanent access to their archival materials. In one example, Dianne McCutcheon , the Chief of the Technical Services Division at the NLM, discussed the "Permanence Ratings" that NLM uses on its Web sites to identify to users whether the resources they consult on the site will be kept permanently available, change over time, or possibly disappear altogether.

Though the workshop participants were almost evenly split between academia, the private sector and government, there was still a great deal of consensus on the core issues facing those responsible for digital preservation and sustainability.

Everyone agreed that non-vendor-specific, open, community-endorsed standards are increasingly useful and required for robust preservation programs. Many speakers also described efforts to establish a common understanding of the importance of stewardship concepts across institutional boundaries, and they noted the importance of distributing responsibilities and roles for different stages and functions of the content management life-cycle.