The Library of Congress has formed the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), a partnership of institutions and organizations dedicated to preserving and providing access to selected databases, web pages, video, audio and other digital content with enduring value. The alliance is an outgrowth of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), which the Library has administered since 2000.
In establishing the program, Congress directed the Library to work with other federal agencies and a variety of additional communities to develop a national approach to digital preservation. NDIIPP has achieved substantial success though partnering with more than 170 institutions to provide access to a diverse national collection of digital content. The NDIIPP program office will serve as the executive secretariat for the NDSA.
The new organization will focus on several goals. It will develop improved preservation standards and practices, work with experts to identify categories of digital information that are most worthy of preservation, and take steps to incorporate content into a national collection. It will provide national leadership for digital preservation education and training. The new organization will also provide communication and outreach for all aspects of digital preservation.
“It is clear that collective action is needed to preserve valuable digital information that our nation needs to support economic, scientific and cultural innovation,” said Laura Campbell, associate librarian for Strategic Initiatives. “The Library of Congress is committed to leading a distributed approach to digital stewardship. This is the best way to sustain and extend the Library’s historic mission to make resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people. It is also the best way for all cultural-heritage institutions to sustain and extend their missions in the midst of a revolution in how knowledge and creativity is created and disseminated.”
A key rationale for the new organization is to leverage the collective resources of multiple organizations on behalf of digital preservation. NDSA members are asked to commit staff time to work in one or more working groups, dedicated to areas such as contributing content, developing standards, creating a preservation infrastructure, supporting digital-preservation technology research, and outreach. To exchange ideas, the partners will also use collaborative digital technology, including social media tools, which NDIIPP will support.
Members will work with experts from the Library, universities, businesses and federal agencies to determine what digital content is worthy of preservation. This collaborative approach is necessary because the quantity and complexity of born-digital information requires careful decisions about what to collect and how to make it available. Choices are necessary in terms of what content is selected and which institutions assume responsibility for stewardship of the content. Collaboration is also expected to speed the process of developing improved standards, tools, services and best practices for digital preservation and access.
The NDSA is beginning with a core set of 53 founding members drawn from current NDIIPP project partners. The members will develop a roadmap for immediate action, including a process for expanding membership. The intent is to start adding new members by the end of the year.
For more information, visit www.digitalpreservation.gov/ndsa/.