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Program Digital Collections Management

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the Library of Congress’ digital preservation policies?

    The Digital Collections Management Compendium (DCMC) serves as an overarching framework that expresses the Library’s priorities and needs for planning policy and guidance that ensures long-term access to digital collection content. The statements in the DCMC function as policies that support and articulate the digital preservation needs for the Library’s digital collections.

  • How much digital content is in the Library of Congress’ collections?

    The Library of Congress’ digital collections are dynamic; they continually grow and change as new content is acquired, processed, and made available. In 2018, the Library managed 15.9 petabytes of digital collection content, comprising 410 million unique files. For in-depth information about the digital storage relating to the Library of Congress collections, review presentations from Library of Congress Staff at the annual Designing Storage Architectures for Digital Collections meetings.

  • Who is responsible for managing digital content in the Library of Congress’ collections?

    Building, managing, and enabling enduring access to digital collection content is a core responsibility of the Library of Congress. Staff across many divisions of the Library of Congress play essential roles in ensuring that digital content in the Library’s permanent collection is managed. For example, recommending officers identify digital content to be added to the collections, acquisitions and cataloging staff ensure that acquired content meets requirements for digital formats, staff in the special collections divisions work to process and manage analog materials, staff in the Digital Collections Management and Services Division are responsible for the management of general digital collections materials, staff in the U.S. Copyright Office manage the flow of incoming electronic copyright deposits, and staff in the Office of the Chief Information Officer develop, maintain and manage the underlying software and hardware infrastructure necessary to support digital content management.

  • How does the DCMC align with standards for digital collections management?

    The policies and guidance in the DCMC were developed to ensure enduring access to the Library’s digital content and reflect a wide range of requirements, varying collection processing workflows, and multiple systems in use. Although expansive in its purview, the DCMC is specifically focused on a collections management approach to ongoing management of digital collections in support of the needs of the Library of Congress and its users. As a result, the DCMC focuses less on the specific technical requirements of systems and more on the areas of work which are critical to the Library at present, including digital formats, custody, and inventory management. The language in the DCMC was developed according to community standards such as the model for tracking digital preservation actions laid out in PREservation Metadata: Implementation Standard (PREMIS), the National Digital Stewardship Alliance’s (NDSA) Levels of Digital Preservation, and the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model (ISO 14721).

  • What kinds of digital storage infrastructure does the Library of Congress use?

    The Library of Congress’ Office of the Chief Information Officer manages extensive and varied digital storage infrastructure. For in-depth information about the systems in use, review presentations from Library of Congress Staff at the annual Designing Storage Architectures for Digital Collections meetings.

  • What software does the Library of Congress use to manage digital collections?

    The Library of Congress uses a range of systems and software applications to ensure enduring access to the Library’s digital collections. Some of these software systems are commercial tools purchased or licensed by the Library, some are enhanced or modified versions of open-source systems and software, and others are in-house-developed and maintained by the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

  • Why is the Library of Congress making this information publicly available? Can this information be reused by other institutions?

    The DCMC is developed to broadly explain the Library’s practices for managing digital content for the public. Following the Library’s Digital Strategy, the Library aims to connect with the cultural heritage community and to “drive momentum” by promoting and leading the development of open standards. In this spirit, we present this information to be more transparent about current policies and practices that we use to manage digital content at the Library. We hope that it is informative and may be of use to other institutions.

  • Will this information be updated?

    The Digital Collections and Management Services (DCMS) division is responsible for monitoring the DCMC and updating it as needed.

  • Can the Library recommend specific systems and software applications for my institution?

    No. But the Library makes the DCMC resource available to help explain how it manages digital content and why. As a federal agency, the Library is not in a position to recommend and particular software or systems, but we hope that the DCMC will help to explain the system architectures and processes that we currently follow to manage digital content.