Library of Congress to Assist States in Preserving Records Digitally

The Library of Congress recently announced that twenty-one states, working in four multi-state demonstration projects, are joining the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) in an initiative to catalyze collaborative efforts to preserve important state government information in digital form.

States face formidable challenges in caring for digital records with long-term legal and historical value. A series of Library-sponsored workshops held in 2005 and involving all states revealed that the large majority of states lack the resources to ensure that the information they produce in digital form only, such as legislative records, court case files and executive agency records, is preserved for long-term access. The workshops made clear that much state government digital information—including content useful to Congress and other policymakers—is at risk of loss if it is not now saved.

These partnerships expand the NDIIPP network to include state government agencies. In August, the network added partners from the private sector in an initiative called Preserving Creative America. With these new partners, the NDIIPP network now comprises well over 100 members, including government agencies, educational institutions, research laboratories and commercial entities.

The projects will collect several significant categories of digital information such as geospatial data, legislative records, court case files, Web-based publications and executive agency records. Each project will also work to share tools, services and best practices to help every state make progress in managing its digital heritage.

The states projects are the most recent initiative of NDIIPP, which was authorized by Congress in December 2000. A cornerstone of NDIIPP has been the establishment of a broad network of partners committed to the continuing selection, collection and preservation of significant digital content that is at risk of loss. The total amount of the funds being made available to the new partners is $2.25 million.

Following are the lead entities and the focus areas of the projects:

  • Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, “Persistent Digital Archives and Library System.” Arizona will lead this project to establish a low-cost, highly automated information network that reaches across multiple states. Results will include techniques for taking in large quantities of state data as well as developing a strong data-management infrastructure. Content will include digital publications, agency records and court records. States working in this project are Arizona, Florida, New York and Wisconsin.
  • Minnesota Historical Society, “A Model Technological and Social Architecture for the Preservation of State Government Digital Information.” The project will work with legislatures in several states to explore enhanced access to legislative digital records. This will involve implementing a trustworthy information management system and testing the capacity of different states to adopt the system for their own use. Content will include bills, committee reports, floor proceedings and other legislative materials. States working in this project are Minnesota, California, Kansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois and Vermont.
  • North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, “Multistate Geospatial Content Transfer and Archival Demonstration.” Work will focus on replicating large volumes of geospatial data among several states to promote preservation and access. The project will work closely with federal, state and local governments to implement a geographically dispersed content-exchange network. Content will include state and local geospatial data. States working in this project are North Carolina, Utah and Kentucky.
  • Washington State Archives, “Multistate Preservation Consortium.” The Washington State Archives will use its advanced digital archives framework to implement a centralized regional repository for state and local digital information. Outcomes will include establishment of a cost-effective interstate technological archiving system, as well as efforts to capture and make available larger amounts of at-risk digital information. Content will include vital records, land ownership and use documentation, court records and Web-based state and local government reports. States working in this project are Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, California and Louisiana.