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Digitization for Access and Preservation Strategies at the Library of Congress

Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services, Library of Congress

Deanna Marcum addressed issues in digital preservation:

  • Digital media lacks permanence
  • Depends on computers for readability
  • Multiple formats

Marcum suggested these strategic methods:

  • Develop better digital media storage
  • Refresh digita data
  • Migrate to newer, improved formats
  • Avoid digital archeology- don’t wait until digital media is broken or obsolete to repair. It requires on-going management of digital data from the point of creation.

Marcum described several Library of Congress initiatives in the area of digitization:

  • NDIIP – National Digital Information Preservation Program – Develop a national strategy to collect, archive and preserve the burgeoning amounts of digital content, especially materials that are created only in digital formats, for current and future generations.
  • National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 – A bill to establish the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress to maintain and preserve sound recordings and collections of sound recordings that are culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant, and for other purposes
  • IRENE – The Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise Etc.
  • Library of Congress officials are hoping that an experimental image workstation will speed the digitization and preservation of 78 RPM shellac and acetate records. Berkeley Lab physicists Carl Haber and Vitaliy Fadeyev developed the system, Image, Reconstruct, Erase, Noise, Etc. (IRENE) to help preservationists restore at-risk recordings and improve audio quality. IRENE will generate high-resolution digital maps of the grooved surface of recordings, allowing preservationists to remove debris and extraneous sounds that contribute to the deterioration of recordings.
  • National Digital Newspaper Program – NDNP will create a national, digital resource of historically significant newspapers from all the states and U.S. territories published between 1836 and 1922.
  • Digitizing American Imprints – This project, “Digitizing American Imprints at the Library of Congress,” will include not only the scanning of volumes, but also the development of suitable page-turner display technology, capability to scan and display foldouts, and a pilot program to capture high-level metadata, such as table of contents, chapters/sections and index. Past digitization projects have shied away from brittle books because of the condition of the materials, but “Digitizing American Imprints” intends to serve as a demonstration project of best practices for the handling and scanning of such vulnerable works.