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December 16, 2010

Library of Congress Project Wins Preservation Award

Until recently there has been no easy way to track down earlier versions of information on websites, despite the fact that they are increasingly important in terms of documenting culture. A vehicle for such research has won a prestigious award.

The Memento Project, led by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Old Dominion University, has won the Digital Preservation Award 2010. The award, given by the Institute for Conservation and the Digital Preservation Coalition and supported by Sir Paul McCartney, celebrates the highest standards worldwide in the field of digital preservation.

Information on the web is dynamic, changing every day or even every few seconds. When users visit a site, they are automatically shown the most recent content version. There is no uniform, simple way to find older information. Memento proposes a technical framework aimed at better integrating the current and the past web. The project has a solution that lets users enable a "time-travel" mode to find content that is date-and-time specific.

In other words, Memento can allow users to see what was formerly on the Internet, such as during disasters, national elections or at any other point before the current moment.

"We are enormously pleased that Memento won this award," said Laura Campbell, the Library’s associate librarian for strategic initiatives. "The project team is doing outstanding work. But two other of our National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program partners also deserve recognition for making the short list for the prize.

"The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access did fine work examining the economic basis of stewarding digital content. And the Preserving Virtual Worlds project, lead by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has led the way in exploring preservation of video games," she added.

"Winning the Digital Preservation Award is a big achievement," said William Kilbride, Executive Director of the Digital Preservation Coalition. "It is the only prize in this area that considers projects from every part of the world and that uses an expert panel of judges to pick the best one. The Library of Congress deserves recognition for supporting Memento along with many other innovative projects devoted to digital preservation and access."

"It is important to make people aware about how important it is to preserve older copies of web information," said Michael Nelson of Old Dominion University. "And we have an even broader goal: encouraging people to think about digital archiving in general by demonstrating how it can be applied to web pages."

"This award demonstrates how much people want easy access to the web of the past. The digital preservation and archiving community needs to have a front seat in architectural discussions about how to promote web persistence," said Herbert Van De Sompel of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The Los Alamos Memento team includes Van de Sompel, along with Luydmilla Balakireva, Robert Sanderson and Harihar Shankar. The Old Dominion team includes Nelson and Scott Ainsworth.

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PR 10-267
12/16/10
ISSN 0731-3527

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