News from the Library of Congress

June 14, 2004

Digital Preservation Program Launches Research Grants Initiative

Library of Congress Partners with National Science Foundation to Fund
Advanced Research into Preservation of Digital Materials

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
of the Library of Congress (NDIIPP) is partnering with the National
Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the first research grants program
to specifically address the preservation of digital materials. NSF will
administer the program, which will fund cutting-edge research to support
the long-term management of digital information.This effort is part of
the Library's collaborative program to implement a national digital
preservation strategy. 

"One of the most critical issues we face in the preservation of digital
materials is a need for better technology and methods to manage these
objects over long periods of time," said Associate Librarian for
Strategic Initiatives Laura E. Campbell, who is directing this
initiative for the Library. "We are very pleased to be working with the
National Science Foundation to encourage important research
breakthroughs. This will help the Library of Congress, as well as our
network of partners who are working with us, to preserve America's
digital heritage for future generations."

The research program announcement coincides with the signing today of a
memorandum of understanding between the Library of Congress and NSF to
collaborate over the next decade in a broad set of research activities
related to digital libraries and digital archives. The formalized
collaboration arose from a joint Library of Congress and NSF workshop in
April 2002 that developed a research agenda in these areas. Through
their leadership, NSF and the Library will encourage other government
agencies to continue research support for improving the state of
knowledge and practice of digital libraries and digital archiving. 

The new Digital Archiving and Long-Term Preservation research program,
which expects to make to make approximately $2 million in initial awards
using NDIIPP funds, has three main focus areas for which proposals are

Digital repository models 
Tools, technologies and processes 
Organizational, economic and policy issues. 
The NSF Directorate for Computer and Information Science and
Engineering, Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, will issue
a call for proposals shortly; check the NSF Web site at for current information. 


In December 2000, Congress authorized the Library of Congress to develop
and execute a congressionally approved plan for a National Digital
Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. A $99.8 million
congressional appropriation was made to establish the program. According
to Conference Report H. Rept. 106-1033, "The overall plan should set
forth a strategy for the Library of Congress, in collaboration with
other federal and nonfederal 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 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." 

The legislation mandates that the Library work with federal entities
such as the Secretary of Commerce, the Director of the White House
Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Archives and
Records Administration, the National Library of Medicine, the National
Agricultural Library, the National Institute of Standards and Technology
and "other federal, research and private libraries and institutions with
expertise in telecommunications technology and electronic commerce
policy." The goal is to build a network of committed partners with
defined roles and responsibilities working through a preservation

The Library of Congress digital strategy is being formulated in concert
with a study, commissioned by the Librarian of Congress, and undertaken
by the National Research Council Computer Science and Telecommunications
Board. "LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress" was
issued July 26, 2000, and made several recommendations, including that
the Library, working with other institutions, take the lead in the
preservation and archiving of digital materials. 

The complete text of the "Plan for the National Digital Information
Infrastructure and Preservation Program" is available at This includes an explanation of how the
plan was developed, whom the Library worked with to develop the plan and
the key components of the digital preservation infrastructure. The plan
was approved by Congress in December 2002. 

A national-level multisector interdisciplinary workshop was convened by
the Library and the National Science Foundation in April 2002 to
identify the significant and unique research issues and opportunities
related to long-term management and preservation of digital materials.
The workshop report is published as "It's About Time: Research
Challenges in Digital Archiving and Long-term Preservation" and is
available at 

NSF has a history of support for research in digital government and
digital libraries, which will benefit the new collaboration with the
Library of Congress. The NSF Digital Government Research Program
( was established in 1999 in response to a
number of national workshops recommending sponsored research in this
area. Its goal is to study problems that intersect traditional computer
science research and the information needs of federal agencies. The
program supports research projects that innovatively, effectively and
broadly address potential improvement of agency, interagency and
intergovernmental operations and government-citizen interaction. 

NSF led the federal government's interagency 1994-2004 Digital Libraries
Initiative (, which was established to extend and
develop innovative digital library technologies and applications. The
initiatives involved the Library of Congress, the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, the National Library of Medicine and the National
Endowment for the Humanities, with participation from the National
Archives and the Smithsonian Institution. Today, NSF continues to
support digital libraries research through projects established by the
Digital Libraries Initiative and an International Digital Libraries
Collaborative Research program. In addition, NSF administers the
National Science Digital Library (, which aims to establish
a network of learning environments and resources for science,
technology, engineering and mathematics education. 

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Through its
National Digital Library (NDL) Program, it is also one of the leading
providers of noncommercial intellectual content on the Internet
( The NDL Program's flagship American Memory project, in
collaboration with 33 institutions nationwide, makes freely available
more than 8.5 million American historical items. 

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that
supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science
and engineering. National Science Foundation funds reach all 50 states
through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year,
NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes
about 11,000 new funding awards. The National Science Foundation also
awards more than $200 million in professional and service contracts

# # #

PR 04-125
ISSN 0731-3527

Press Release on the web at