Now in the 10th year of supporting the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), the Library of Congress drew 220 attendees to the annual partners meeting held July 20-22. They heard many new ideas and techniques for institutions to consider as they assume growing responsibility for large volumes of digital content.
“I am so pleased to see all of you here today,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “I commend your fine work in preserving important digital information that might otherwise have been lost. Your success demonstrates that digital stewardship must be a distributed, networked effort involving the work of many.”
Billington also said that much work lies ahead. “We must move relentlessly forward in our enterprise of preserving American culture for the world. Vital to this are continuing efforts to make qualitative choices about what to preserve. We need to broadly engage with all communities that create and keep digital information to ensure the most effective use of our limited preservation resources. And we must add this responsibility without subtracting from our responsibility for managing our traditional analog collections.”
Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, delivering the closing keynote, spoke about the need for change.
“Institutional cultures need to be less cautious and more open to new ways to do their work,” he said. “Embracing social media is a good example of how to do both.”
Charlotte Hess, associate dean for research, collections and scholarly communication administration at Syracuse University Library, delivered a talk focusing on knowledge as a commons. She drew upon her previous experience as library director for the workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University, where she worked with Elinor Ostrom, 2009 winner of the Nobel Prize for economics. Hess emphasized that a knowledge commons must have equitable conventions.
“Everyone has to have a say in the rules,” she said. “The rules can emerge informally, from the bottom up.”
Other meeting sessions covered topics such as “Creating and Sustaining Successful Community-Based Organizations,” “Using Cloud Services as a Part of Your Preservation Strategy” and “The Challenges of Preserving User-Generated Content and Context.”
A particularly lively session addressed how content is now generated and used on the Internet. Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, talked about how digital content has radically altered how news is delivered and consumed. Gillmor noted that this change contributes to new demands from users regarding cultural-heritage information.
Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, provided compelling details about how the “Millenial” generation has embraced a life entwined with digital information. Andrew Turner, chief technology officer for FortiusOne, addressed the rising expectations users have for mixing different kinds of digital content to generate new information.
Andy Maltz from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and Milt Shefter of Miljoy Enterprises provided insight about current work in formulating an approach to preserve digital film, including works from major Hollywood studios as well as those from independent filmmakers.
Sessions on economic sustainability, computer forensics and cultural heritage and personal archiving rounded out the meeting, along with eight small-group breakout sessions focusing on specific initiatives, tools and practices.
A highlight of the meeting came when Laura Campbell, associate librarian for Strategic Initiatives at the Library, spoke about the formation of a new entity, the National Digital Stewardship Alliance. The NDIIPP program will serve as the executive secretariat for the alliance, which is envisioned as a broad collaboration of institutions and organizations committed to preserving and providing access to digital content with enduring value.
Campbell described how the alliance will begin with a core set of founding members drawn from current NDIIPP project partners and said they will convene to develop a roadmap for immediate action, including a process for expanding membership. She then called forward representatives of the 53 founding members and provided them with certificates of membership.
“This is a profound and exciting time,” said Campbell. “The alliance allows us to carry forward and extend all the fine work that our NDIIPP partners have done. As Dr. Billington noted, it is clear that collective action is the most effective path forward for managing digital content. The Library is committed to a leadership role. We depend entirely on the active participation of institutions and organizations across the country to make this alliance work.”
Additional information about NDIIPP can be found at the website www.digitalpreservation.gov.