“The Library is pleased to be able to bring together creators of such diverse content for the sake of saving our nation’s heritage, which is increasingly being created only in digital formats.”
— James H. Billington
A recent Library award of $2.15 million to eight new digital-preservation partners will help them find ways to ensure the long-term preservation of a broad range of creative American works in digital form, including photographs, cartoons, motion pictures, sound recordings and even video games.
The Library made the award through its National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) on Aug. 3 as part of its new Preserving Creative America initiative.
“America’s creativity is unrivaled in the world, and it is among our most important exports,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “The Library is pleased to be able to bring together creators of such diverse content for the sake of saving our nation’s heritage, which is increasingly being created only in digital formats.”
“The Library of Congress is delighted to welcome private-sector participants to our growing network of NDIIPP partners,” said Laura E. Campbell, associate librarian for strategic initiatives, who is leading NDIIPP for the Library. “We were very encouraged by the willingness of the content industries to work with us. Collaborations such as these are essential if we are collectively going to be able to ensure that valuable cultural content survives for the benefit of future generations.”
NDIIPP’s new partners include industry trade associations, private-sector companies and nonprofits, as well as cultural heritage institutions. With the new awards, the NDIIPP network grows to more than 90 partners, including other government agencies, educational institutions, research laboratories and organizations, both in the United States and abroad. Previous NDIIPP projects have involved primarily educational and cultural heritage institutions.
Several of the projects will involve developing standardized approaches to content formats and metadata (the information that makes electronic content discoverable by search engines), which are expected to increase greatly the chances that the digital content of today will survive to become America’s cultural patrimony tomorrow.
Although many of the creative-content industries have begun to look seriously at what will be needed to sustain digital content over time, the awards to the Preserving Creative America projects will provide added impetus for collaborations within and across industries, as well as with libraries and archives.
Preserving Creative America is the most recent initiative of the NDIIPP, authorized by Congress in December 2000. The authorizing legislation specifies that the Library should enlist the private sector to help address the long-term preservation of digital content. A cornerstone of NDIIPP has been the establishment of a broad network of partners committed to the continuing stewardship of digital content of value to Congress and the nation.
The Preserving Creative America awards went to the following organizations, which with their project partners will tackle content-preservation projects.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS): Today’s digitally created motion pictures are at risk unless suitable preservation technologies, practices and standards are developed and adopted. AMPAS, best known for its annual Academy Awards, devotes considerable resources to a host of motion picture-related educational, scientific and cultural endeavors, including the technical aspects of filmmaking and the preservation of motion pictures.
The Digital Motion Picture Archive Framework Project will build upon AMPAS’s current research on digital preservation issues from the perspective of the major motion picture studios, extending the effort to include independent filmmakers and smaller film archives.
Additional key components of the project will involve developing a case-study system for investigating archival strategies for digital motion pictures and recommending specifications for image-data formats across the production chain.
American Society of Media Photographers: Digital photography has no accepted standard set of rules for handling digital image files and maintaining information about them. This project has two major objectives: (1) to expand an existing set of guidelines, the Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines, with recommendations for refined production workflows, archiving methods and best practices based on image use and capture methods and (2) to promote the use of the guidelines through a Web site and awareness campaigns within the professional photographer community. Partners: PhotoDistrict News, ASMP Foundation.
ARTstor: Small organizations and individuals in particular are often not equipped to create “archive-ready” images. This project aims, through training and tools, to enable photographers to submit archive-ready images to repositories such as ARTstor. Development of a tool will allow photographers to capture technical and preservation metadata early in the creation workflow and embed the metadata in their digital images, while outreach efforts at art schools and professional conferences will both generate requirements and raise awareness of the importance of metadata to the long-term usability and preservation of digital photographs. Partners: Art on File, Artesia, Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Northwestern University.
BMS/Chace: The adoption of digital recording has virtually eliminated the vital documentation once created on paper during the recording process. At the same time, it has led to tremendous unrealized potential to create and maintain all key information about a recording throughout its life cycle. The project focuses on creating a standardized approach for gathering and managing metadata for recorded music and developing software models to assist creators and owners in collecting the data. A standardized metadata environment will allow content creators, record labels, individuals and cultural heritage institutions to document, archive and manage “born digital” recordings effectively. Partners: Sony BMG Music, Universal Music Group, EMI Group, Buena Vista Music Group. the Producers and Engineers Wing of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Stock Artists Alliance (SAA): Essential information about stock images is frequently lost as images are disseminated across multiple distributors, licensees and end users, making the archiving and repurposing of these images difficult. SAA, through online resources and educational seminars at professional trade shows and in key cities, will promote the importance of metadata for long-term usability of digital photos.
Universal Press Syndicate: Universal Press Syndicate, a newspaper syndication company, will use a collection of Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” comic strips and Pat Oliphant’s editorial cartoons to model and test the transfer of digital content to the Library of Congress. The project, which will constitute a case study for public-private partnerships for archiving digital content, will focus on aligning metadata practices, transfer procedures and continuing collection management in a manner consistent with the goals of digital preservation.
UCLA Film & Television Archive: The long-term sustainability of digital works has received little attention within the independent film community. This award supports awareness and education within the independent film community through symposia and workshops at major film conferences. Partner: Sundance Institute.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Interactive media are highly complex and at high risk for loss as technologies rapidly become obsolete. The Preserving Virtual Worlds project will explore methods for preserving digital games and interactive fiction. Major activities will include developing basic standards for metadata and content representation and conducting a series of archiving case studies for early video games, electronic literature and Second Life, an interactive multiplayer game. Second Life content participants include Life to the Second Power, Democracy Island and the International Spaceflight Museum. Partners: University of Maryland, Stanford University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Linden Lab.