The Internet as Public Utility: Creating the Universal Digital Library of the 21st Century
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
Laura E. Campbell
Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives and Chief Information Officer, Office of Strategic Initiatives, Library of Congress
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)