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June 16, 2004

Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
David Hart: National Science Foundation (703) 292-7737; dhart@nsf.gov


Library of Congress Partners with National Science Foundation to Fund Advanced Research into Preservation of Digital Materials

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress (NDIIPP) is partnering with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the first research grants program to specifically address digital preservation. NSF will administer the program, which will fund cutting-edge research to support the long-term management of digital information. This effort is part of the Library's collaborative program to implement a national digital preservation strategy.

"One of the most critical issues we face in the preservation of digital materials is a need for better technology and methods to manage these objects over long periods of time," said Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives Laura E. Campbell, who is directing this initiative for the Library. "We are very pleased to be working with the National Science Foundation to encourage important research breakthroughs. This will help the Library of Congress, as well as our network of partners who are working with us, to preserve America's digital heritage for future generations."

The research program announcement coincides with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, to be signed June 16, between the Library of Congress and NSF to collaborate over the next decade in a broad set of research activities related to digital libraries and digital archives. The formalized collaboration arose from a joint Library of Congress and NSF workshop in April 2002 that developed a research agenda in these areas. Through their leadership, NSF and the Library will encourage other government agencies to continue research support for improving the state of knowledge and practice of digital libraries and digital archiving.

The new Digital Archiving and Long-Term Preservation research program, which expects to make to make approximately $2 million in initial awards using NDIIPP funds, has three main focus areas for which proposals are sought:
  • Digital repository models
  • Tools, technologies and processes
  • Organizational, economic and policy issues
The NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, will issue a call for proposals shortly; check the NSF Web site at www.cise.nsf.gov/div/index.cfm?div=iis for current information.

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 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 with defined roles and responsibilities working through a preservation architecture.

The Library of Congress digital strategy is being formulated in concert with a study, commissioned by the Librarian of Congress, and undertaken 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 complete text of the "Plan for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program" is available at www.digitalpreservation.gov. This includes an explanation of how the plan was developed, whom the Library worked with to develop the plan and the key components of the digital preservation infrastructure. The plan was approved by Congress in December 2002.

A national-level multisector interdisciplinary workshop was convened by the Library and the National Science Foundation in April 2002 to identify the significant and unique research issues and opportunities related to long-term management and preservation of digital materials. The workshop report is published as "It's About Time: Research Challenges in Digital Archiving and Long-term Preservation" and is available at http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/index.php?nav=3&subnav;=11.

NSF has a history of support for research in digital government and digital libraries, which will benefit the new collaboration with the Library of Congress. The NSF Digital Government Research Program (http://www.digitalgovernment.org) was established in 1999 in response to a number of national workshops recommending sponsored research in this area. Its goal is to study problems that intersect traditional computer science research and the information needs of federal agencies. The program supports research projects that innovatively, effectively and broadly address potential improvement of agency, interagency and intergovernmental operations and government-citizen interaction.

NSF led the federal government's interagency 1994-2004 Digital Libraries Initiative (www.dli2.nsf.gov), which was established to extend and develop innovative digital library technologies and applications. The initiatives involved the Library of Congress, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Library of Medicine and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with participation from the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution. Today, NSF continues to support digital libraries research through projects established by the Digital Libraries Initiative and an International Digital Libraries Collaborative Research program. In addition, NSF administers the National Science Digital Library (www.nsdl.org), which aims to establish a network of learning environments and resources for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Through its National Digital Library (NDL) Program, it is also 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 33 institutions nationwide, makes freely available more than 8.5 million American historical items.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. National Science Foundation funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,000 new funding awards. The National Science Foundation also awards more than $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

ISSN 0731-3527

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