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Library of Congress Digital Library project

Library of Congress Digital Library project

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The Library of Congress National Digital Library Program (NDLP) is assembling a digital library of reproductions of primary source
Primary source
Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied....

 materials to support the study of the history and culture of the United States. Begun in 1995 after a five-year pilot project, the program began digitizing selected collections of Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 archival materials that chronicle the nation's rich cultural heritage. In order to reproduce collections of books, pamphlets, motion pictures, manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

s and sound recordings, the Library has created a wide array of digital entities: bitonal document images, grayscale
In photography and computing, a grayscale or greyscale digital image is an image in which the value of each pixel is a single sample, that is, it carries only intensity information...

 and color pictorial images, digital video
Digital video
Digital video is a type of digital recording system that works by using a digital rather than an analog video signal.The terms camera, video camera, and camcorder are used interchangeably in this article.- History :...

 and audio
Digital audio
Digital audio is sound reproduction using pulse-code modulation and digital signals. Digital audio systems include analog-to-digital conversion , digital-to-analog conversion , digital storage, processing and transmission components...

, and searchable e-text
An e-text is, generally, any text-based information that is available in a digitally encoded human-readable format and read by electronic means, but more specifically it refers to files in the ASCII character encoding.E-text has the broad meaning of something electronic that represents words, a...

s. To provide access to the reproductions, the project developed a range of descriptive elements: bibliographic records, finding aids, and introductory texts and programs, as well as index
Index (publishing)
An index is a list of words or phrases and associated pointers to where useful material relating to that heading can be found in a document...

ing the full texts for certain types of content.

The reproductions were produced with a variety of tools: image scanner
Image scanner
In computing, an image scanner—often abbreviated to just scanner—is a device that optically scans images, printed text, handwriting, or an object, and converts it to a digital image. Common examples found in offices are variations of the desktop scanner where the document is placed on a glass...

s, digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

s, devices that digitize audio and video, and human labor for rekeying and encoding texts. American Memory employs national-standard and well established industry-standard formats for many digital reproductions, e.g., texts encoded with Standard Generalized Markup Language
Standard Generalized Markup Language
The Standard Generalized Markup Language is an ISO-standard technology for defining generalized markup languages for documents...

 (SGML) and images stored in Tagged Image File Format
Tagged Image File Format
TIFF is a file format for storing images, popular among graphic artists, the publishing industry, and both amateur and professional photographers in general. As of 2009, it is under the control of Adobe Systems...

 (TIFF) files or compressed with the Joint Photographic Experts Group
Joint Photographic Experts Group
The Joint Photographic Experts Group is the joint committee between ISO/IEC JTC1 and ITU-T that created the JPEG, JPEG 2000, and JPEG XR standards. It is one of two sub-groups of ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1, Subcommittee 29, Working Group 1 - titled as Coding of still pictures...

 (JPEG) algorithm. In other cases, the lack of well established standards has led to the use of emerging formats, e.g., RealAudio
RealAudio is a proprietary audio format developed by RealNetworks and first released in April 1995. It uses a variety of audio codecs, ranging from low-bitrate formats that can be used over dialup modems, to high-fidelity formats for music. It can also be used as a streaming audio format, that is...

 (for audio), QuickTime
QuickTime is an extensible proprietary multimedia framework developed by Apple Inc., capable of handling various formats of digital video, picture, sound, panoramic images, and interactivity. The classic version of QuickTime is available for Windows XP and later, as well as Mac OS X Leopard and...

 (for moving images), and MrSID
-External links:* from LizardTech's website...

 (for maps). Technical information by types of material and by individual collections is also available at this site.


The Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 is trying to extend its brick and mortar library services to include services to the entire web. While the original Library was focused on the needs of the US Congress, dealing with the whole world through the Internet is something it is still struggling with. The collection includes an eclectic mix of documents, images, videos and sound recordings. Images include maps, sheet music, handwritten documents, drawings and architectural diagrams. The goal of a Library of Congress Internet Library should be to provide access to those materials unique to the Library of Congress, and a clear guide to any internet materials related to the United States.

If you search "digital library project" +"library of congress" on the web, you will get a cluttered view of what the Library of Congress is providing. The Library of Congress Global Gateway at site:international.loc.gov has about 200,000 documents currently. The main page provides links but no context. The American Memory
American Memory
American Memory is an Internet-based archive for public domain image resources, as well as audio, video, and archived Web content. It is published by the Library of Congress...

 at site:memory.loc.gov has about 350,000 documents. The main page is similarly vague.

An Internet Library is more than a haphazard collection of materials on an internet server. It serves an entire world, not just those who can afford subscription feeds, or who receive grants through US government agencies. Likewise it does not discriminate against very young users, or languages other than English. Its purpose, scope and contents are readily understood at any location within the site. It is not needlessly repetitive. It recognized the value of the users' time, and makes every effort to constantly improve performance and the users' success.

Because materials are available to anyone – of any age or background, in any country – an Internet Library needs to be more open and inclusive. LoC is just beginning to serve the needs of the world's internet users.

Topics Mentioned:
  • America – Industry, Technology, Cities, Towns, Culture, Literature, Performing Arts, Music, Folklife, Architecture, Landscape, Environment, Sports, Recreation,
  • America – Government, Military, Law, Religion, Advertising, Conservation,
  • America – Presidents, Women's History, African American History, Native American History, American Expansion, Immigration, War
  • Missing – Sciences, Universities, Occupations, American Resources other than LoC, Agriculture, Arts,
  • Missing – Wiki tools, User communities to improve the site, Internet Maps,

Content Mentioned: Bibliographic databases, Online Catalogs, current issues of favorite journals, new acquisitions, indexes to journal literature, references from scholarly publications, lists of readings, classroom presentations, lesson plans, "valuable materials", articles, textbooks

User Categories Mentioned: School teachers, scholars, students, internet users,

User Purposes Mentioned: Term papers, presentations, reports, online projects,

Digital Library Users

In 1989, to help launch the American Memory pilot project, a consultant surveyed 101 members of the Association of Research Libraries and the 51 state library agencies. The survey disclosed a genuine appetite for on-line collections, especially in research libraries serving higher education. The American Memory pilot (1990–1995) identified multiple audiences for digital collections in a special survey, an end-user evaluation and in thousands of conversations, letters and encounters with visitors.

The most thorough audience appraisal carried out by the Library of Congress consisted of an end-user evaluation conducted in 1992–1993. Forty-four school, college and university, and state and public libraries were provided with a dozen American Memory collections on CD-ROM
A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed compact disc that contains data accessible to, but not writable by, a computer for data storage and music playback. The 1985 “Yellow Book” standard developed by Sony and Philips adapted the format to hold any form of binary data....

s and videodisks (these formats are no longer being supported). Participating library staff, teachers, students and the public were polled about which digitized materials they had used and how well the delivery systems worked. The evaluation indicated continued interest by institutions of higher education as well as public libraries. The surprising finding, however, was the strong showing of enthusiasm in schools, especially at the secondary level. Library Science students however should be more wary of such a development given the potential for unwarranted changes being made to the collection.

The evaluation team learned that recent reforms in education had created a need for primary-source historical materials such as those in the Library's incomparable collections. Teachers welcomed digitized collections to aid in the development of critical thinking skills; school librarians used the electronic resource to inculcate research skills. These findings have been validated in the educational outreach program initiated by the Library of Congress in 1995 and initially funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation
W. K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was founded in June 1930 as the W.K. Kellogg Child Welfare Foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg. In 1934, Kellogg donated more than $66 million in Kellogg Company stock and other investments to the W.K. Kellogg Trust...


Educational Outreach

In 1995, in conjunction with the launch of the Library of Congress National Digital Library Program, the Library brought together leading history and social studies K-12 teachers and librarians to consider how archival on-line resources could best be used in the nation's schools. The participants at this Educator's Forum validated earlier findings: that while the primary sources were in great demand, for teachers to be able to make effective use of them, they needed additional materials to frame the collections and the topics represented in the collections. To this end in 1996, the Library of Congress developed The Learning Page—a gateway to the digital collections, which provides contextual material, search help and evaluate their materials under development. The Library continued the American Memory Fellows Program in the summer of 1998 with the goal of building champions for their collections in schools across the country.

See also

  • Data format management
    Data Format Management
    Data format management is the application of a systematic approach to the selection and use of the data formats used to encode information for storage on a computer....

  • Digital curation
    Digital curation
    Digital curation is the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets.Digital curation is generally referred to the process of establishing and developing long term repositories of digital assets for current and future reference by researchers, scientists,...

  • Digital library
    Digital library
    A digital library is a library in which collections are stored in digital formats and accessible by computers. The digital content may be stored locally, or accessed remotely via computer networks...

  • Digital preservation
    Digital preservation
    Digital preservation is the set of processes, activities and management of digital information over time to ensure its long term accessibility. The goal of digital preservation is to preserve materials resulting from digital reformatting, and particularly information that is born-digital with no...

  • Digital Preservation Coalition
    Digital Preservation Coalition
    The Digital Preservation Coalition is a UK-based non-profit limited company which seeks to secure the preservation of digital resources in the UK and internationally to secure the global digital memory and knowledge base.-History:...

  • Global legal information network
    Global Legal Information Network
    The Global Legal Information Network is a cooperative, not-for-profit federation of government agencies or their designees that contribute national legal information to the GLIN database. It is an automated database of statutes, regulations and related material that originate from countries in the...

  • Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
    Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
    ICPSR, the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, was established in 1962. An integral part of the infrastructure of social science research, ICPSR maintains and provides access to a vast archive of social science data for research and instruction , and offers in...

  • Internet Archive
    Internet Archive
    The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

  • List of digital library projects
  • Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard
    The Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard is a metadata standard for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata regarding objects within a digital library, expressed using the XML schema language of the World Wide Web Consortium...

  • National Archives and Records Administration
    National Archives and Records Administration
    The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives...

  • National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
    National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program
    The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program is an archival program led by the Library of Congress to archive and provide access to digital resources. The U.S. Congress established the program in 2000...

  • National Geospatial Digital Archive
    National Geospatial Digital Archive
    The National Geospatial Digital Archive is an archive of cartographic information funded by the Library of Congress, University of California Santa Barbara, and Stanford University.- Introduction :...

  • National Science Foundation
    National Science Foundation
    The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

  • Open Archival Information System
  • Open Archives Initiative
    Open Archives Initiative
    The Open Archives Initiative is an attempt to build a "low-barrier interoperability framework" for archives containing digital content . It allows people to harvest metadata...

  • Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting
    Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting
    OAI-PMH is a protocol developed by the Open Archives Initiative. It is used to harvest the metadata descriptions of the records in an archive so that services can be built using metadata from many archives...

  • Pandora Archive
    Pandora Archive
    PANDORA - Australia's Web Archive is the national web archive for the preservation of Australia's online publications. It was established by the National Library of Australia in 1996, and is now built in collaboration with a number of other Australian state libraries and cultural collecting...

External links