Library of Congress
Report to the Digital Library Federation
January 15, 2001


  • Collections, Services, and Systems
  • Projects and Programs
  • Specific Digital Library Challenges

    I. Collections, Services, and Systems

    A. Collections

    National Digital Library Program
    The National Digital Library Program (NDLP) achieved its five year goal of making five million historically significant items freely available on the Internet during fiscal year 2000. By the end of FY2000, the Library provided 5.6 million digital files online. The Library placed 19 new collections online with approximately 150,000 digital files and expanded twelve existing collections with 1.5 million digital files. By the end of the FY2000, a total of 87 collections were online. The Library continues to enhance and expand access to online content through educational tools such as "Today in History", the Learning Page, the 2000 Educators' Institute, and the Learning Center facility. - "Today in History" - Learning Page

    American Memory Historical Collections
    The American Memory Historical Collections, a major component of the Library's National Digital Library Program, are multimedia collections of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and text from the Library's Americana collections. There are currently over 70 collections in the American Memory Historical Collections.

    America's Library
    The Library's new educational Web site for families, called "America's Library", combines graphics with the Library's online American historical collections in more than 500 stories.

    American Physical Society Collections
    The Library of Congress reached agreement on the regular, ongoing deposit of the archives of electronic journals published by the American Physical Society.

    American Folklife Center Collections
    The AFC put five new collections online as part of the Library's National Digital Library Program: Omaha Indian Music; Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier; Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festival; Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections; and Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia.

    Prints and Photographs Division
    A portion of the holdings is available on the Internet. Of special interest are the over 70,000 items from several of the Division's collections (as of Sept. 1996) that are represented by catalog records and accompanying digital images in World Wide Web; more will be added over the next few years.

    B. Services

    The Library of Congress makes its collections available to the nation's schools, libraries, and life-long learners through 20 public reading rooms; via interlibrary loan to Congress, federal agencies, schools, the public and other libraries, via the Internet; and via copyright-compatible copying. Internet-based systems include three World Wide Web services (e.g. THOMAS), the Library of Congress Online Catalog, and various file transfer options. The Library manages the largest and most varied archival collection of American creativity including motion pictures, sound recordings, maps, prints, photographs, manuscripts, music, and folklore covering a wide range of ethnic and geographic communities. The Library's digital services and systems include:

    The Collaborative Digital Reference Service (CDRS)
    CDRS provides professional reference service to researchers anytime, anywhere, through an international, digital network of libraries and related institutions. The service is piloting the use of new technologies to provide the best answers at the lowest cost by taking advantage, not only of the millions of Internet resources, but also of many more millions of resources that are not online and held by libraries. CDRS supports libraries by providing them additional choices for the services they offer their end users. Participating libraries will assist their users by connecting to CDRS to send questions that are best answered by the expert staff and collections of CDRS member institutions from around the world.

    National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLSBPH)
    Web-braille use grew as improvements were introduced. Since its inception in 1999, Web-braille on the Internet grew to allow access to more than 3,175 digital braille book files. At the close of FY2000, 1,078 users had signed up for the new Internet service. The free online braille program provided a direct channel to thousands of electronic braille files for individuals, schools, and libraries with Internet connections and braille output devices. Digital talking book (DTB) program developments continued. NLSBPH completed a draft DTB standard under the auspices of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) and installed a prototype digital recording system at the NLS Recording Studio where five digital talking books were completed.

    C. Systems

    Geographic Information System (GIS)
    The Geography and Map Division continues to serve the Congressional Research Service, the Congressional Relations Office, Members of Congress and the public with their Geographic Information System (GIS) needs, collecting digital data and working with private sector partners to create a GIS infrastructure for the Library of Congress. In FY2000 the U.S. Railroad Maps digital collection was completed, the Civil War Maps digital collection was inaugurated as a multi-year digital project, and a total of 1,800 maps will be put online, of which 290 are currently available. By end of FY2000, 3,999 maps were made available online.

    Integrated Library System
    The LC ILS includes modules for cataloging, circulation, acquisitions and serials check-in as well as the Online Public Access Catalog. In FY2000, the Library added an Electronic Cataloging in Publication (ECIP) interface to receive digitized publisher data and a Geospatial Search Module and Media Module used at the Library to track assignment of research facilities.

    Culpeper, Virginia Storage System
    In August 1998, the Congress authorized the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) to acquire on behalf of the Library real property and improvements in Culpeper, Virginia for use as the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. The Center will implement digital archiving of the Library's collections of film, television, radio and recorded sound and will house the Library's film and audio and video preservation laboratories.

    Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS)
    LC is serving as a beta tester for LOCKSS, a Stanford University project that is a permanent Web publishing and access system prototype to preserve access to scientific journals published on the Web. LOCKSS models how libraries provide access to paper content by allowing individual libraries to safeguard their community's access to Web content. The system ensures that hyperlinks continue to resolve and appropriate content is delivered, even when on the Internet the links do not work and content is no longer available. Libraries running LOCKSS cooperate to detect and repair preservation failures.

    II. Projects and Programs

    A. Projects

    Web Preservation Project
    The Library of Congress initiated in FY2000 a Web Preservation Project to capture, save, and preserve collections from select Web sites for use by future generations of researchers. The Library designed a prototype, selected pilot sites, reviewed tools needed, estimating volume, and developed general guidelines for the project, now called, Minerva (Mapping the INternet Electronic Resources Virtual Archive).

    Meeting of Frontiers
    The Library launched the Meeting of Frontiers pilot site of 70,000 images chronicling the parallel experiences of the United States and Russia in settling their frontiers in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The project is being conducted with the Russian State Library and the National Library of Russia. Digital images of unique and rare materials in American and Russian collections are made freely available over the Internet. The Library plans to expand the Frontiers project to Spain, Brazil, Italy, and the Vatican Library.

    Photoduplication Digital Maps Project
    The Library is completing an agreement to scan maps for customer delivery and implement a long term storage program, including bibliographic control.

    Scanning Projects
    The Library is implementing projects to establish a standard location for interlibrary loan scanned files and create cataloging linkage policies.

    The Library is determining the feasibility of taking part in an OCLC project to create records for digital resources and pathfinders.

    Dublin Core Initiative
    The Library is assessing for use in LC projects an OCLC initiative to establish a basic set of metadata elements for description of objects. The Library continues active participation in the Dublin Core development.

    Harrassowitz - German Digital Project
    The Library led this project in partnership with the publishing company Harrassowitz to acquire and process German electronic serials.

    Open Archive Initiative (OAI)
    The Library is collaborating with the Digital Library Federation and CNI on a project to foster access to digital archives across institutions.

    Publisher Collaborations
    The Library led projects partnered with publishers APS, Elsevier, and Bell & Howell for access and preservation agreements for their digital publications.

    Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL)
    The Associate Librarian for Library Services represents the Library of Congress on the International Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL) and chairs the CDNL's Task Force on Persistent Identifiers for Digital Objects, which has taken the first steps to establish a global identifier infrastructure for legal deposit collections in a networked environment. Within this global framework, national bibliography numbers (NBNs) are unique and can be resolved to the associated bibliographic descriptions and the corresponding deposit items. NBNs then can be used globally to access deposit collections around the world.

    MARC/XML DTD project
    The Library led this project to establish standard representation of MARC data in XML structure.

    NIST Open Ebook Standards Project
    The Library is working cooperatively with NIST to develop standards for electronic book encoding.

    ZIG Digital Development Project
    The Library is cooperating with ZIG to enhance Z39.50 for various digital library requirements.

    Preservation Research and Testing Projects
    The PR&T Division is systematically testing CD and CD-R formats to establish lifetime expectancies for these digital storage media. PR&T is also investigating and developing a treatment strategy for the "sticky-shed" syndrome that affects polyester magnetic recording tape.

    Preservation Reformatting Projects
    Building on the digitizing of the Garden and Forest periodical last year, PRD will in the year ahead embark on several scanning projects including:
    • a select group of illustrated materials from the LC collection of the Spalding Guides.
    • an important group of 450 photographic prints and negatives by Ansel Adams
    • select Main Reading Room guides to microforms and finding aids
    • 9,000 deteriorating acetate negatives from the Federal Theater collection
    • 2,530 16mm reels of NBC broadcasting scripts or transcripts (1922-1984)
    • De Musica, a 17th century music work receiving extensive conservation treatment. The images will be presented for researchers interested in the work and an annotated version will be created that contains additional images of conservation treatment and documentation.

    B. Programs

    Ameritech Competition
    Through a grant from Ameritech Foundation, the LC/Ameritech Digital Library Competition enables public, research and academic libraries, museums, historical societies and archival institutions to create digital collections of primary resource material to complement the Library's program. The Library also cooperates internationally to collect digitized laws, regulations, and other complementary legal sources in the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) project.

    Bell & Howell Digital Dissertations
    The Library continues its relationship with Bell & Howell on cost-effective access to its digital archive of U.S. doctoral dissertations.

    Internet Archive Collections
    The Library has built on the existing gift agreement with the Internet Archive to select and acquire open-access Web resources of special interest to the Library. This project is being combined with the Minerva, Web preservation project.

    The Library continued its pilot programs to broadcast events of wide national interest on its Web site. The Library is developing procedures for video production, including establishing policies on digitizing, storing and serving files.

    Bicentennial Symposia
    The Library of Congress sponsored 4 symposia in calendar year 2000 in commemoration of its 200th anniversary. "National Libraries of the World: Interpreting the Past, Shaping the Future" examined the significance, influence and future direction of national libraries in the digital arena. "To Preserve and Protect: the Strategic Stewardship of Cultural Resources" reviewed methods both physical and digital for securing the Library's collections and the nation's cultural heritage. "Bibliographic Control for the New Millennium" discussed improved discovery and access to Web resources within the framework of international standards. "Building the Virtual Reference Desk in a 24/7 World" explored the possibility of creating a virtual library through reference services provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nationally and internationally.

    The Library has initiated an internal training/education program to enhance its cataloger expertise in order to expand cataloging operations for tangible and intangible (born digital) digital resources.

    Preservation Digital Reformatting Program
    The goal of the Library's preservation reformatting is to preserve the Library's collections and offer broad public access to at-risk materials. Digital reformatting is considered one among many options for crafting an integrated preservation strategy for collection materials that is developed in partnership with Library curators and recommending officers, custodial divisions, and other Preservation Directorate staff. The Library completed in FY2000 the digital reformatting of an embrittled ten-volume journal, "Garden and Forest," and presented it on LC's Web site as the first complete run of a periodical.

    III. Specific Digital Library Challenges

    National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIPP)
    As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001, the Congress provided a special $99.8 million appropriation to the Library for a National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. As a first phase of the Program, in collaboration with other Federal and non-Federal entities, the Library will develop a phased implementation plan. The plan is to set forth a national strategy for a network of libraries and other organizations with shared responsibilities for collecting, maintaining, and providing permanent access to digital materials. In addition, the plan will set forth strategies for defining national policies and protocols for ensuring the long term survivability of digital materials, and strategies for implementing the necessary networked technical infrastructure that must be in place.

    Web-Braille and Digital Talking Books
    The Library plans to promote use of Web-braille, digital talking book development: The Library will continue exploration of alternative audio and braille possibilities to the point of identifying a user-friendly, less costly, more efficient, internationally acceptable delivery system through implementation of a digital standard for talking books in the NISO/ANSI process and continued development of braille accessibility on the Internet with the addition of braille magazines.

    Digital Futures
    The need to incorporate "born digital" materials into the Library of Congress' universal holdings poses broadening challenges to the Library. The Library is now building on the work of the Digital Futures Group not only to set the Library's own strategic direction for the life cycle management of digital materials, but to ensure that the Library's strategic direction is consistent with the national digital information infrastructure and preservation strategy.

    Collaborative Digital Reference Service
    The Library will develop collaborative relationships with worldwide institutions and expand their participation in the Collaborative Digital Reference Service.