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Digital Preservation

The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > Feature Series > Meeting the Challenge > Transferring Digital Content

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A goal of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) is to encourage shared responsibility for digital content and to seek national solutions for the continued collection, selection and preservation of the most historically significant cultural materials, regardless of evolving formats.

NDIIPP is meeting this challenge by exploring ways to transfer valuable digital cultural heritage materials to the Library. In experiments being conducted this year, NDIIPP partners are transferring copies of preserved content to the Library. The materials being transferred encompass a range of materials, including historical maps, national polling data, public television programming, captured Web content and much more.

The transfers provide an opportunity to examine ways to distribute responsibility for the care of digital materials across a range of partners, including academic institutions, state and local government and the private sector, even while the Library continues to occupy a leadership role in the preservation of digital cultural heritage.

The current research incorporates findings from the 2005 report of the Archive Ingest and Handling Test (AIHT), a Library-supported initiative in which participants exported files to one another and explored the shared effort needed to support collaboration. The AIHT report emphasized the need for the continual testing of tools for managing digital content. NDIIPP is taking this point to heart as it “learns by doing,” engaging its partners in a variety of content transfer technical approaches.

Some NDIIPP partners are simply transferring the material to the Library on hard drives. Others are using Internet transfer tools such as Fast Data Transfer (FDT) (externa link) or rsync (externa link) to move content electronically. NDIIPP is also supporting new technology that may enable even faster transfer over the Internet. One such approach is the Federated Archive Cyberinfrastructure Testbed (FACIT) (externa link), a collaboration between the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Tennessee. FACIT aims to show how organizations can smoothly interoperate their resources and collections.

In addition to the testing of tools, the content transfer activities have led to the development of shareable package and file manifests: documents that travel with the transferred content and support the content’s storage and retrieval. These manifests can be used by other organizations in their own transfer activities.

NDIIPP will continue to publish research and reports describing its findings as its content transfer activities continue. These activities help build a community with the knowledge and resources to preserve the nation’s digital cultural heritage, while helping the Library continue to meet the challenge of digital preservation.