February 7, 2003 U.S. Congress Approves Library of Congress Plan for Preservation of Digital Materials

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Website: http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/

What: Presentation on the "Plan for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP)." The Library of Congress is leading this groundbreaking initiative to develop a national infrastructure for the collection and preservation of digital materials. Congress has approved the "master plan" for NDIIPP.

When: Friday, Feb. 14, 11 a.m.

Where: Library of Congress James Madison Building

First Street and Independence Avenue S.E.

Mary Pickford Theater, third floor.

Who: Librarian of Congress James H. Billington

Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives Laura E. Campbell

The Library's mission, "to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations," is as important in the digital realm as it is in the analog. The means to achieving that goal for digital materials presents far more vexing challenges. Digital formats are being created with ever-increasing rapidity. For example, it is now almost impossible to find a PC that is able to read the once-standard 5 1/4-inch floppy disk. The average life span of a Web page is only 44 days, and 44 percent of Web sites available in 1998 had disappeared by 1999. As of January 2002, there were more than 550 billion public pages on the Web, and that figure grows by 7 million pages a day.

Never in the history of the world has access to information been so important and at the same time more endangered. Congress has asked the Library of Congress to lead NDIIPP (http://www.digitalpreservation.gov), and the Library is working with a broad swath of stakeholders from the federal government as well as the public and private sectors to capture and preserve digital information before it is forever lost. The digital preservation infrastructure envisions a committed network of partners committed to collecting and preserving a rich body of digital content in a preservation architecture that is both trustworthy and able to respond to rapidly changing technology.


In December 2000, Congress authorized the Library of Congress to develop and execute a congressionally approved plan for a National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program; a $99.8 million congressional appropriation was made to establish the program. According to Conference Report H. Rept. 106-1033, "The overall plan should set forth a strategy for the Library of Congress, in collaboration with other federal and nonfederal entities, to identify a national network of libraries and other organizations with responsibilities for collecting digital materials that will provide access to and maintain those materials. ... In addition to developing this strategy, the plan shall set forth, in concert with the Copyright Office, the policies, protocols and strategies for the long-term preservation of such materials, including the technological infrastructure required at the Library of Congress."

The Library of Congress digital strategy is being formulated in concert with a study, commissioned by the Librarian of Congress, 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 National Research Council is part of the National Academy of Sciences.

The legislation mandates that the Library work with federal entities such as the Secretary of Commerce, the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Library of Medicine, the National Agricultural Library, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and "other federal, research and private libraries and institutions with expertise in telecommunications technology and electronic commerce policy." The goal is to build a network of committed partners working through a preservation architecture of defined roles and responsibilities.

The Library, through its National Digital Library (NDL) Program, is one of the leading providers of noncommercial intellectual content on the Internet (www.loc.gov). The NDL Program's flagship American Memory project, in collaboration with 36 institutions nationwide, makes freely available millions of American historical items.


PR 03-024
ISSN 0731-3527