Contact: Gary Fitzpatrick (202) 707-8542, Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

November 8, 1993

Bell Atlantic and Library of Congress To Test On-Demand Delivery of American Memory

The Library of Congress and Bell Atlantic announced today a public/private demonstration project to test the use of a telephone network delivery system to disseminate selected multi- media collections from the Library's American Memory program. The project will also assess the potential audience for such materials.

The Library of Congress American Memory program provides electronic access to original, primary-source materials from selected Library collections. The content ranges from Mathew Brady's Civil War photographs to 19th century pamphlets by African American writers to Thomas Edison films of New York City at the turn of the century. American Memory media formats include motion pictures, still photographs, recorded sound, and searchable full texts.

The Library will supply multimedia material for inclusion in Bell Atlantic's test of programming on demand in Northern Virginia. The company intends to expand its current technology test, which involves a few hundred Bell Atlantic employees, to a market test next spring. The market test will involve up to 2,000 customers. It will include an array of programming material from many different sources, ranging from entertainment to health care and education.

The Bell Atlantic/Library of Congress demonstration project is a key element in the final year of American Memory's five-year pilot period. The Library is using this, and other demonstration projects, to compare various delivery methods and to identify feasible models for future distribution of its holdings to the American people.

"Congress has encouraged the Library to find new ways to allow educational institutions and the private sector to make use of our research and development in the field of electronic storage and delivery of original and primary materials from our collections," said James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress. "This agreement is part of that effort."

"Bell Atlantic is proud to be able to work with the Library of Congress in assessing the potential working relationship between the public and private sector in bringing the American Memory program to the finger tips of the general public," said Raymond W. Smith, chairman and chief executive officer of Bell Atlantic Corporation. "Making the vast resources of the Library of Congress readily available in an on-demand electronic environment will have a tremendous impact on education, scholarship, and research."

The Library will supply the digital content during the project. Bell Atlantic will provide the delivery system and necessary technical expertise. Both parties will cooperate in the evaluation process.

The Library's American Memory project began in 1990. It includes documents from the Continental Congress (1774-1790), films of New York City (1897-1906) and of President McKinley (1901), and early recordings of speeches by America's leaders (1918-1920). CD-ROM (optical disk) versions of these collections have been evaluated in 44 libraries, school districts, and colleges throughout the United States. The Bell Atlantic demonstration project will employ on-line rather than disk-based software tools.

The Library of Congress is the world's largest library, containing more than 101 million items in nearly every language and format -- from ancient Chinese woodblock prints to compact disks. As the chief copyright deposit library of the United States, the Library receives about 1 million new items each year, about half of which are selected for the permanent research collections. Additional items come through gifts and donations, exchanges with national and international institutions, and purchases.

Bell Atlantic Corporation, based in Philadelphia, is the parent company of New Jersey Bell, Bell of Pennsylvania, Diamond State Telephone (Delaware) and the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Companies of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

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PR 93-141
11/17/93
ISSN 0731-3527

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