March 4, 1998 Library of Congress To Participate in National Science Foundation Digital Library Initiative -- Phase 2

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

The Library of Congress has announced its sponsorship of the National Science Foundation's Digital Libraries Initiative -- Phase 2, which is supporting innovative digital-library research and applications.

The other government sponsors are the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Library of Medicine, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Endowment for the Humanities and other cooperating agencies.

The objective of the multiyear program is to provide leadership in research fundamental to the next generation of digital libraries.

"The Library of Congress looks forward to working with the other government institutions in this important initiative," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "As one of the most important providers of intellectual content on the Internet, the Library has much to offer -- and learn -- by participating in this program."

The Digital Libraries Initiative - Phase II is intended to extend the research carried out during the initial awards announced in 1994, then sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The first phase funded six research projects over a five-year period and signaled the beginning of a national conversation about digital libraries, promoting discussion of "the importance of improving the utility, effectiveness, performance, scalability and sustainability of current and future digital services and collections."

Plans for the next steps in this initiative were made during a 1996 workshop, whose participants agreed that research should be conducted with real collections and real users in mind.

The Phase II initiative includes content providers -- such as the Library of Congress -- among the sponsors, thus guaranteeing the availability of a testbed that researchers may use to validate new technology. For this purpose, the Library of Congress is offering many of its American Memory collections, which contain a substantial body of multimedia content: document and pictorial images, searchable text, recorded sound, maps and motion pictures. American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress.

The Library hopes the research and collaborative efforts that emerge during the Digital Libraries Initiative - Phase II will lead to new technologies, practices and communities of collection producers, content shapers and end-users. By stimulating a dialogue among the technology experts, content providers and users of digital materials, the Library hopes to establish a solid foundation for sharing findings associated with building, using and sustaining digital libraries.

The National Digital Library Program will make millions of items relating to American history freely available on the Internet by the year 2000, the Library's 200th anniversary. Among the current collections available are "The George Washington Papers," "African American Perspectives," "Votes for Women Suffrage Pictures," "Early Motion Pictures" and "Panoramic Maps." More than 40 million transactions monthly are handled by the Library's Internet services.


PR 98-035
ISSN 0731-3527