Librarian of Congress Details Digitization Efforts

On March 22, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative Branch regarding how the Library is transforming itself to accommodate the digital age. (Full Testimony)

Dr. Billington emphasized that digital materials, contrary to some assumptions, are less stable than analog materials, because digital content is easily altered, corrupted, or even lost. He noted that the average Web site’s life span is between 44 and 75 days. He used as an example important materials relating to Hurricane Katrina that were used by Congress, which are no longer available on-line.

According to Dr. Billington, the Library of Congress has been preparing for the digital age since the 1960s, when it used early technology to create and share bibliographic information in electronic form. In 2000, Congress asked the Library to lead a national strategic program to collect and preserve the burgeoning amounts of digital content. The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program is building a nationwide network of partners to select and preserve critical materials at risk of loss if they are not saved now. Dr. Billington expressed hope that Congress would continue to support the program.