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Digital Preservation

The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > News Archive > Experts Discuss Saving Public Policy Web Content

August 27, 2009 -- Curators and public policy experts representing commercial, academic and non-profit organizations convened for a two-day meeting at the Library of Congress to explore strategies for preserving public policy content that has been made available only on the web.  

As more and more of existing public policy content is only available on the web, the challenge of providing enduring access to, and long-term preservation of, public policy information is increasingly complicated. The Library’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program is exploring ideas about how to work with others to preserve this information.

screenshot of Howard Dean's 2004 Presidential Campaign website

Example of public policy web information: screenshot of Howard Dean's 2004 Presidential Campaign website.

NDIIPP is interested in this area as part of its work to catalyze development of a national collection of digital content though a national network of preservation partners. To date, the Program has engaged over 130 partners from the public and private sectors to work together to develop approaches and solutions for saving America's digital heritage.

Discussion for the meeting was framed around Thomas Dye’s definition (external link) of public policy, which is "what governments decide to do and not do."  The agenda featured thematic panel presentations followed by small group discussions.  The first panel focused on the types of public policy content that organizations are now collecting, and the discussions considered what content was most important to collect going forward.  A second panel addressed shared models for content stewardship, with discussions following about how these or other models could be used to greater effect.

The Library obtained many valuable ideas and recommendations from the meeting. Participants also found the gathering useful.  Sarah Rhodes, digital collections librarian at Georgetown University Law Library, noted, "This is tremendously useful for starting a national conversation about collecting and preserving digital public policy content."  Joan Decker, Philadelphia Records Commissioner, commented that, "The meeting is a wonderful way for those of us who are interested in digital preservation to build collaborations with others who are working in this area." 

This meeting was the first of three sessions planned to consider how NDIIPP can expand its work with other stakeholders in providing stewardship for digital materials with value for current and future research use.