Library starts digital preservation research program

SEATTLE'The Library of Congress is launching a research program to develop digital preservation technologies, announced William LeFurgy, digital project manager for the Library of Congress.

The Digital Archiving and Long Term Preservation Research Program will ultimately provide new tools for the Library of Congress' $175 million National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, a congressionally-mandated initiative to preserve the rapidly increasing number of culturally significant digital materials.

The National Science Foundation will administer the program.

LeFurgy spoke at the fifth annual National Conference on Digital Government Research, being held this week in Seattle. The conference is a forum for participants in the NSF's Digital Government Research Program to share ideas and present research.

LeFurgy said the areas of research that will be pursued in this program have been outlined in a report issued last August by the NSF and the Library of Congress, titled 'It's About Time: Research Challenges in Digital Archiving and Long-Term Preservation.' The report pointed out several difficulties in preserving content originally created in a digital format, including:

  • The lack of technology for preserving multi-media digital materials, materials that combine audio and visual components and text


  • Frequent changes in formats and operating systems used to access the materials


  • The lack of automation tools for categorizing and storing large sets of materials.


  • Over the next three years, the agency will make 10 to 15 awards to develop new technologies and practices in these areas, LeFurgy said. The initial awards, mostly for feasibility studies, will be for $100,000 each. As projects mature, subsequent awards worth about $500,000 each will be issued for follow-up work.

    NSF's Information and Intelligent Systems division will issue a formal call for proposals in about six weeks. The call will be posted on the NDIIPP site. An interagency committee composed of members of the National Archiving and Records Administration, the Commerce Department and other agencies will review the proposals.

    About the Author

    Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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