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June 8, 2004

Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217


Library to Work with Old Dominion, Johns Hopkins, Stanford and Harvard Universities

The Library of Congress has entered into a joint digital preservation project with Old Dominion University, Department of Computer Science; The Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries; Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources; and Harvard University Library to explore strategies for the ingest and preservation of digital archives. The project is supported by Information Systems Support Inc.

The Archive Ingest and Handling Test (AIHT), is designed to identify, document and disseminate working methods for preserving the nation's increasingly important digital cultural materials, as well as to identify areas that may require further research or development. The AIHT is part of an initiative, led by the Library of Congress, to build a network of preservation partners through the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP).

The AIHT participants are investigating and applying various digital preservation strategies, using a digital archive donated to the Library by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. The archive is a collection of 57,000 digital images, text, audio and video related to the Sept. 11, 2001 events. The transfer of these 12 gigabytes of digital content is being used to emulate the problems that arise in digital preservation and to test possible solutions.

Participants in the AIHT range from fully operational repositories to an advanced research project investigating methods for preserving digital objects; additionally one institution is comparing multiple technical solutions within one environment. A broad array of current open-source and proprietary digital-object management and preservation technologies are deployed in the test.

In addition to testing the intake of the archive into diverse systems, the participants will also work to understand the difficulties in transferring large and complex digital archives from one institution to another. This is a critical piece of any larger digital preservation effort, as the number of individuals and organizations that produce digital material is far larger, and growing much faster, than the number of institutions committed to preserving such material. Thus, any practical preservation strategy requires mechanisms for continuous transfer of content from the wider world into the hands of preserving institutions.

At the end of the 12-month test, the Library and its partners will publish a final report detailing both current practices for digital preservation and future areas of research. Further information about the project will be posted periodically at http://www.digitalpreservation.gov.

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, 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, who 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.

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.

ISSN 0731-3527

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