October 25, 2007 Library of Congress Collaborates with Xerox To Test Format for Digitally Preserving, Accessing Treasured Images
Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress, (202) 707-9217; Bill Mckee, Xerox Corporation, (585) 423-4476
As part of the Library of Congress’s mission to ensure that America’s history and heritage are available and accessible for generations to come, the Library and Xerox Corporation are working together on a project to develop better ways to store, preserve and access treasured digital images. The collection includes such images as a panorama of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake, a photograph of Abraham Lincoln taken four days before he was assassinated and a picture of the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk. The two organizations are studying the potential of using the JPEG 2000 format in large repositories of digital cultural heritage materials such as those held by the Library and other federal agencies. The eventual outcome may be leaner, faster systems that institutions around the country can use to store their riches and to make their collections widely accessible. The project, designed to help develop guidelines and best practices for digital content, is especially relevant to the Library’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, which has been working with several other federal agencies on digitization standards. The trial will include up to 1 million digitized, public domain prints, photographs, maps and other content from the Library’s extraordinary collections. Scientists in the Xerox Innovation Group will work with these materials to create an image repository that they will use to develop and test approaches for the management of large image collections. The images to be used from the Library’s collection are already digitized (primarily in TIFF format), but JPEG 2000, a newer format for representing and compressing images, could make them easier to store, transfer and display. According to Michael Stelmach, manager of Digital Conversion Services in the Library’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, JPEG 2000 holds promise in the areas of visual presentation, simplified file management and decreased storage costs. It offers rich and flexible support for metadata, which can describe the image and provide information on the provenance, intellectual property and technical data relating to the image itself. Xerox scientists will develop the parameters for converting TIFF files to JPEG 2000 and will build and test the system, then turn over the specifications and best practices to the Library of Congress. The specific outcome will be development of JPEG 2000 profiles, which describe how to use JPEG 2000 most effectively to represent photographic content as well as content digitized from maps. The Library plans to make the results available on a public Web site. “Much of the world’s knowledge and creativity are stored in digital formats. Applying Xerox’s expertise in digital imaging to the problem of preserving the nation’s treasured images is a great example of how industry and government can harness their individual strengths to solve a pressing issue,” said Sophie Vandebroek, president of the Xerox Innovation Group and the company’s chief technology officer. The Library’s work follows on the success of previous work with Xerox to create a JPEG 2000 profile for newspapers as part of the National Digital Newspaper Project, whose Web site, Chronicling America, is at www.loc.gov/chroniclingamerica/. Robert Buckley, the Xerox research fellow who coordinated Xerox’s work on the project, helped establish the JPEG 2000 format. Buckley will also oversee Xerox’s contributions to the new project. The overall Digital Preservation Program (www.digitalpreservation.gov) is working with more than 90 other organizations to collect and preserve the nation’s cultural heritage, much of which now exists only in digital formats. The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Founded in 1800, the Library seeks to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to the knowledge found in its magnificent collections, either through its Capitol Hill reading rooms or online at www.loc.gov. Xerox Corporation is the world’s leading document management technology and services enterprise. It helps businesses deploy smarter document management strategies and find better ways to work. It offers an array of innovative document solutions, services and systems. This year Xerox was awarded the National Medal of Technology, the highest technology award in the United States, for its innovations. For more information, visit www.xerox.com.