Library of Congress plots digital preservation path

Library of Congress digital preservation site

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NEW YORK — The Library of Congress will take the first steps this year in carrying out what Laura Campbell, associate librarian, said today is a national strategy for preserving digital materials.

An immediate task is defining a technical architecture by testing six alternative approaches, Campbell said, speaking today at the Association for Information and Image Management Expo, a trade show for the content and document management industry. The testing work has begun, using a collection of digital materials covering the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, she said.

After selecting an architecture, the library will work with technical experts from NASA and other labs to develop a working prototype, Campbell said.

To assist in harvesting digital materials for preservation, the library has worked with 22 international experts to develop technical specifications for an open-source Web crawler. "It's actually a very beautiful product," Campbell said.

In fact, intellectual property issues, not technical ones, are proving to be the thorniest problems, she said. Ultimately, the library's strategy for preserving digital materials will depend on many external forces beyond its control, including changing intellectual property laws, the rate of technological change and the availability of federal financing, Campbell said.

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