Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

December 2, 1994

Library of Congress, Association of Research Libraries Directors Colaborate on National Digital Library

On October 21, approximately 60 directors from libraries that are members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) met with Library of Congress officials to discuss the creation of a National Digital Library. This was the second in a series of conversations the Library of Congress has planned with various constituencies interested in the Library's plans for the National Digital Library.

"The Library of Congress is fully aware that the National Digital Library cannot be built by one institution. This huge task will require the cooperation of libraries across the nation -- and indeed throughout the world," said Winston Tabb, the Library's Associate Librarian for Collections Services. "We look forward to working with members of the Association of Research Libraries and other institutions in making a major contribution to the National Information Infrastructure and ultimately the global information infrastructure."

Library officials noted that the ARL libraries have major research collections that must be part of the national digital library. They also acknowledged the pioneering digital efforts under way at various ARL libraries, such as Yale, Cornell, and Columbia. While participants in the meeting expressed enthusiasm for the potential the digital library offers to scholars and librarians, all agree that digitization of library collections is not a universal remedy for all library problems, such as space and preservation. Digital collections will broaden access, but will not replace most original materials.

On October 13, the Library of Congress announced that it had received $13 million to expand its digital initiatives. The Lucile and David Packard Foundation and John Kluge each gave $5 million, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation gave $3 million. The funds will be used to digitize unique historical collections of the Library and to help the Library identify instructional uses of digital materials.

The Library will work with major institutions, including ARL libraries, to form a coalition to convert important collections to digital formats. By the year 2000, the coalition hopes to have digitized 5 million images. This coalition will also work to resolve the copyright issues surrounding electronic dissemination and to address the problems of preservation of digital images and text.

The ARL directors also discussed several other Library of Congress projects such as the Global Legal Information Network, which seeks to make the laws of foreign nations available on- line; Copyright Office pilot programs in the intellectual property arena; and electronic Cataloging in Publication.

The Library of Congress is a member of the Association of Research Libraries, a not-for-profit membership organization that shapes and influences the future of research libraries in the process of scholarly communication, and promotes equitable access to and effective use of knowledge in support of teaching, research, scholarship, and community service. Other members include the national and large university libraries in the United States and Canada, and a number of public and independent libraries with substantial research collections.

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PR 94-183
ISSN 0731-3527

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