The Internet as Public Utility: Creating the Universal Digital Library of the 21st Century

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Every 15 minutes, the equivalent of all the holdings of the Library of Congress is created in digital form. The mission of the Library is to preserve a universal body of knowledge and creativity for future generations. In the analog world, the Library was able to assemble this "universal" body of knowledge for the national collections. In the digital age, the job becomes exponentially larger -- and more complex -- as the Library of Congress and other repositories struggle to determine: What should be saved? Who will save it? How will it be saved? and Who will pay for it? Digital information is easily altered or destroyed. It can quickly become inaccessible through format obsolescence. And because it is so easily replicable, intellectual property rights issues weigh heavily on any efforts to collect and preserve this at-risk digital content. The Library of Congress is leading the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (www.digitalpreservation.gov) by forming a network of partners committed to collecting important digital content and establishing best practices to ensure its availability to future generations. More than 100 institutions have already joined the digital preservation network. They are collaborating on the selection, collection and preservation of important content, and they are learning from each other as they leverage their collective expertise for the benefit of the entire preservation community.


Keywords: Digital Preservation, Internet as Public Utility, Library of Congress, National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, Collaboration
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Laura E. Campbell

Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives and Chief Information Officer, Office of Strategic Initiatives, Library of Congress
Washington, D.C., USA

Ms. Campbell was appointed to the position of associate librarian for Strategic Initiatives in 2000 by the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington. He noted that "Laura has already made many significant contributions to the realization of the Library's digital future. Her demonstrated leadership, technical knowledge and network of expert colleagues in the public and private sectors will bring added strength to our decision-making process." Creation of the position of associate librarian for Strategic Initiatives responds to a recommendation contained within the 2000 National Academy of Sciences report “LC21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress.” Responsibilities of the position include overall strategic planning for the Library, oversight of the Information Technology Services directorate, and leadership of the $100 million National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (www.digitalpreservation.gov), which was established to build a nationwide network of partners to preserve important digital content that is at risk of being lost. Ms. Campbell is also director of the National Digital Library Program, a cooperative national effort to digitize and make available online primary source materials of American history and culture. The program’s award- winning Web site, American Memory (memory.loc.gov), offers more than 11 million items from the collections of the Library of Congress and those of its partners.

Ms. Campbell is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University (B.A., 1973), the University of Maine (M.A. in management, 1979) and Georgetown University (M.S. in accounting, 1983)

Ref: T08P0109