Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217, Heidi Belden, Office of Sen. Pete Domenici (202) 224-7098, Deborah Deal, First Market Group, for LizardTech (407) 788-7070

June 9, 1997

New Technology Makes Detailed Maps Available on the Internet from the Library of Congress

Beginning today, the Library of Congress is making available on the Internet detailed American panoramic maps from its collections, thanks to a gift from LizardTech, which has donated special software.

The maps will become a part of American Memory, the Library's electronic collections of some of its most important materials, available at http://www.loc.gov/.

"Due to the generosity of LizardTech, the Library's National Digital Library Program is reaching another milestone: making available some of its most important and detailed maps to Americans everywhere via the Internet," said James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. "This donation will allow users to view their cities and towns as they looked during the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

"The Library of Congress's use of the LizardTech software is another successful example of technology transfer from our national laboratories. These transfers enable the public and private partnerships that provide additional returns to the nation," Sen. Pete Domenici (R- N.M.) said. "This collection of maps will greatly enhance the offerings from the National Digital Library Program, which is bringing the riches of the Library to all Americans."

This new collection from the Library's site on the World Wide Web is made possible through the donation of a file-compression technology developed by LizardTech of Santa Fe, N.M., and Seattle. The presentation of detailed maps on-line, once highly impractical due to the very large size of their digital files, is now possible with the technology that reduces the size of massive map files by more than 20 times. Users can access these maps on the World Wide Web to view the entire image or zoom in for greater detail. No special software is necessary to view these maps. They will be accessible to the public on the Internet for the first time at http://www.loc.gov/.

"LizardTech is particularly proud to be involved in this effort. The MrSID software and the Center for Geographic Information are both the result of a historic collaboration between government and industry that provides the nation access to its heritage and the opportunity to explore that legacy using the Internet," said John R. Grizz Deal, President of LizardTech.

The donation of the file-compression technology is the latest gift received by the Geography and Map Division through its Center for Geographic Information, an alliance with private sector industries that are working to develop a vast array of new geographic technologies. The large-format, flatbed scanner that is used to digitize the maps, for example, was donated by Tangent Color Systems; Hewlett Packard gave the computer equipment that is used to process the map images so that they can be displayed.

The compression of these very large files is made possible by the use of Multiresolution Seamless Image Database (MrSID) software, which was invented at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sen. Domenici sponsored federal technology transfer legislation in 1989 that enabled partnerships between national laboratories and U.S. industry. LizardTech has used this and other legislation to develop private sector commercial uses for this technology.

"During the first century of the existence of the Geography and Map Division, access to our maps was limited to the few who could visit our reading room or afford photo reproductions," said Ralph Ehrenberg, chief of the Library's Geography and Map Division. "We begin our second century with the prospect of making our historic collections available to anyone through the World Wide Web."

The Library's Geography and Map Division comprises a collection of 4.5 million maps and 60,000 atlases, making it the largest in the world. The division is scanning maps from its core collections to make them available from the Library's National Digital Library Program. The first virtual cartographic collection, "Panoramic Maps of the United States," will be available on the World Wide Web today as a component of "American Memory" (http://www.loc.gov/), which is bringing the most significant of the Library's American historical collections to a wider audience through the Internet.

The National Digital Library Program aims to make available via the Internet millions of important materials from America's past contained in the incomparable collections of the Library of Congress. Already accessible are Mathew Brady's Civil War photographs; documents relating to slavery, the civil rights movement and women's suffrage; and early films and sound recordings. The Library's services on the World Wide Web currently process more than 42 million transactions per month.

LizardTech, formed in 1992, is a private company focused on publishing innovative software that allows users of all levels easy access to digital images and multimedia content. LizardTech is a spinoff of Los Alamos National Laboratory; it is based in Santa Fe and Seattle.

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PR 97-106
6/9/97
ISSN 0731-3527

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