Friday, July 07, 2006

Article: Distributed Preservation in a National Context: NDIIPP at Mid-point

Abby Smith has written an article on the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) . This program is very important, since it is looking at how to capture and preserve digital content, and is focused on Internet content that is important and can change quickly. She writes (my emphasis):

In December 2000, recognizing that born-digital content of value to the nation is at risk of being lost to current and future generations, Congress created the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program – NDIIPP. The Library of Congress was charged to create a plan that "should set forth a strategy for LC, in collaboration with other Federal and non-Federal 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, the "program is a major undertaking to develop standards and a nationwide collection strategy to build a national repository of digital materials."

In the law and accompanying conference report, Congress made clear not only what to capture – materials of value and materials that are "at risk" – but also how to do so: in a way that is sustainable and legal. "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." Congress named specific government agencies and private-sector nonprofit groups LC should work with. They also indicated the need to find partners in the commercial and technical communities. "The information and technology industry that has created this new medium should be a contributing partner in addressing digital access and preservation issues inherent in the new digital information environment."
I have heard two presentations on NDIIPP (at SLA and CIL). [Also see this presentation.] Both gave a sense for how massive this effort is, the problems that they are finding, and the solutions that they are pursuing. For example, how does one discern which web sites to harvest? How do you find them? How can you quickly and easily create metadata for thousands of web pages?

Smith's article doesn't give that "wow" that you get when you hear someone talk about the project, especially someone who is on the inside. But Smith does provide an overview of what is occurring and what is yet to come. It is all very massive and very important. Therefore, if you have not heard of NDIIPP, read or skim Abby Smith's article. If you have a chance to hear someone talk about it at a conference, take it. This is a long-term project that we all need to be aware of.

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