The Library of Congress made awards totaling nearly $15 million at the end of September to eight institutions and their partners to identify, collect and preserve digital materials within a nationwide digital preservation infrastructure. These awards from the Library, part of the institution's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the winning institutions in the form of cash, in-kind or other resources. The institutions will share responsibilities for preserving at-risk digital materials of significant cultural and historical value to the nation.
Because there is no analog (physical) version of materials created solely in digital formats, these so-called "born-digital" materials are at much greater risk of either being lost and no longer available as historical resources, or of being altered, preventing future researchers from studying them in their original form. Millions of digital materials, such as Web sites mounted in the early days of the Internet, are already lost—either completely or in their original versions.
The preservation projects that will receive Library of Congress funding include digital content relating to important people, events and movements that have had a major impact on the nation's history, such as the birth of the "dot-com" era, satellite mapping, public television programs, historical aerial photography, and opinion polls and voting records.
The Library of Congress is leading this massive digital preservation program to help ensure that the students, historians and lifelong learners of tomorrow will be able to study these subjects and others with the same degree of comprehensiveness and reliability that historians of the past enjoyed when they were studying less ephemeral analog materials such as books and manuscripts. These awards are the next step in a multiphase process to solve complex problems of collecting, preserving and making available digital content.
The Library's digital strategy is being formulated in concert with a study, commissioned by the Librarian of Congress and undertaken by the National Research Council Computer Science and Telecommunications Board. "LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress" was issued July 26, 2000, and made several recommendations, including that the Library, working with other institutions, take the lead in the preservation and archiving of digital materials.
The NDIIPP initiative will be carried out through the establishment of a national network of partners, such as those named today, that are committed to digital preservation. The partners will collaborate in a digital preservation architecture with defined roles and responsibilities. In 2000, the U.S. Congress asked the Library of Congress to lead this effort.
Commenting on the initiative, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said: "The Library of Congress looks forward to its collaboration with these institutions, all of which are dedicated to the preservation of our nation's cultural and historical heritage, in all its forms. As materials are increasingly being created in digital form only, it becomes ever more critical to save the important information they contain so that future generations will continue to benefit from, and build upon, the achievements of previous generations. During the 10th year of the Library's National Digital Library Program, these awards are especially meaningful."
"The Library and NDIIPP have reached an important milestone today," said Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives Laura E. Campbell, who is leading NDIIPP for the Library of Congress. "These formal partnerships mark the beginning of a new phase of this program to raise awareness of the need for digital preservation and to take steps to capture and preserve at-risk digital content that is vital to our nation's history."
The awards are the result of a "Program Announcement to Support Building a Network of Partners" issued by the Library on Aug. 12, 2003. The deadline for submitting applications was Nov. 12, 2003.
All applications were subjected to a peer-review process administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Librarian of Congress Billington made the final selections.
Following are the winning lead institutions, their partner institutions and the subject area of the project. The amounts are approximate and subject to change.
University of California, Office of the President (California Digital Library), lead; University of North Texas and New York University, partners. This award is for the collection of Web-based materials produced by local, state, regional and federal government agencies and other organizations that try to educate the public and influence government. The archives that will be built, using tools developed to capture and preserve these materials, will focus on local political activities and movements, such as the California gubernatorial recall election of 2003. Amount of award: $2,712,117.
University of California at Santa Barbara, lead; Stanford University, partner. These institutions will lead the formation of a National Geospatial Federated Digital Repository to design an infrastructure and collect materials across the spectrum of geographic formats. The born-digital materials to be collected and preserved will range from LANDSAT imagery to other cartographic content from university, corporate and government resources as well as Web sites. The repository will preserve content vital for the study of history, science, environmental policy, urban and population studies, census construction and analysis, and other fields requiring U.S. geospatial information. Amount of award: $2,937,742.
Educational Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) (Thirteen/WNET New York), lead; WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, Mass.; Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Alexandria, Va.; New York University (NYU), N.Y., partners. Partners in this project will collaborate to establish the first procedures, structures and national standards necessary to preserve public television programs produced in digital formats. EBC and WGBH are the two largest producers of public television content in the United States. Through PBS, their productions are made available to audiences from coast-to-coast. Together, these three entities produce and distribute the majority of public television in the United States. NYU is home to one of America's most distinguished research libraries and has become a major player in the field of digital preservation of moving images. The four partners will focus on such influential series as "Nature," "American Masters," "NOVA" and "Frontline," which are increasingly being produced only in digital formats, including the new high-definition standard (HDTV). The project will also examine issues associated with the preservation of important corollary content, such as Web sites that accompany broadcasts. Amount of award: $2,846,625.
Emory University, lead; The University of Louisville Libraries, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Libraries, Florida State University, Auburn University Libraries, Georgia Institute of Technology Library and Information Center, partners. This project will develop a MetaArchive of Southern Cultural Heritage (www.metaarchive.org) by creating a distributed digital preservation network for critical and at-risk content relative to Southern culture and history. The partners will select and preserve institutional digital archives, as well as ephemeral works such as online exhibitions and cultural history Web site displays. This body of digital content includes a wide variety of subjects complementary to Library of Congress collections such as the Civil War, the civil rights movement, slave narratives, Southern music, handicrafts and church history. Amount of award: $690,390.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Graduate School of Library and Information Science and National Center for Supercomputing Applications, lead; OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Tufts University Perseus Project, Michigan State University Library, and an alliance of state library agencies from Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina and Wisconsin, partners. This project will develop criteria for determining which digital materials to capture and preserve, as not all digital material can or should be preserved. These materials will include sound and video recordings, historical aerial photography, Web-based government publications from the partner states, and primary and secondary historical materials made available by the Perseus Project. Amount of award: $2,753,451.
University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, lead; George Mason University Center for New Media; Gallivan, Gallivan and O'Melia LLC; Snyder, Miller, Orton Lawyers LLP; and the Internet Archive, partners. This project will preserve at-risk digital materials from the American business culture during the early years of the commercialization of the Internet (the birth of the "dot-com" era) specifically 1994-2001. The materials, collected through Web portals at www.businessplanarchive.org and www.dotcomarchive.org and through direct contact with former participants in the "dot-com" era, will be of incalculable historical value to Americans eager to make sense of this remarkable period of venture creation. Amount of award: $220,000.
University of Michigan Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research Partners: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut, the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Henry A. Murray Research Center at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard, the Electronic and Special Media Records Service Division of the National Archives and Records Administration and the Harvard-MIT Data Center. These institutions will create a partnership to identify, acquire and preserve data used in the study of social science to ensure that future generations of Americans have access to this vital digital material that will allow them to understand their nation, its social organization and its policies and politics. Examples of data that will be preserved are opinion polls, voting records, large-scale surveys on family growth and income, and focused studies on effects of events such as factory closings or the need to care for aging parents. Together the partners will build a shared catalog, adopt a common standard for describing survey data and develop strategies for ensuring that the data remain available for analysis. Amount of award: $2,182,332.
North Carolina State University Libraries, lead; North Carolina Center for Geographic Information & Analysis, partner. The project will collect and preserve digital geospatial data resources, including digitized maps, from state and local government agencies in North Carolina. Geospatial data are created by a wide range of state and local agencies for use in applications such as tax assessment, transportation planning, hazard analysis, health planning, political redistricting, homeland security and utilities management. Although this project will focus solely on North Carolina, it is expected to serve as a demonstration project for other states. Amount of award: $534,713.