Stanford, UC-Santa Barbara join forces for digital preservation

The Library of Congress announced today that it has selected Stanford and the University of California-Santa Barbara to develop one of eight national initiatives for digital information preservation.

The Stanford/UCSB team will form a National Geospatial Federated Digital Repository to design an infrastructure and collect materials across the spectrum of geographic formats. The digitally manufactured materials to be collected and preserved will range from earth images taken from satellites (LANDSAT), to other cartographic content from university, corporate and government resources, as well as Web sites. The repository will preserve content vital for the study of history, science, environmental policy, urban and population studies, census construction and analysis, and other fields requiring U.S. geospatial information.

“We have a great team working on geospatial materials in SULAIR,” stated Michael A. Keller, university librarian, referring to Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources. “Coupling our emphasis in digital preservation with the very sophisticated skills of our partners at UCSB, and emphasizing a distributed, cooperative model with many kinds of cultural custodians, this project will create a lasting and productive hub for preservation of geospatial information.”

The Library of Congress announced the award of nearly $3 million in Washington, D.C., culminating a nearly two-year effort to begin putting in place a series of cooperative networks of digital repositories.

Once established, the repository will allow university library staff to offer archival solutions to other organizations and individuals that have produced important digital geographical resources considered to be at risk. The University of Washington, the University of Georgia, the American Antiquarian Society, and noted collector and digital publisher David Rumsey are among those that have agreed to contribute digital resources to the repository. State and local agencies are also targets for gathering geographical data.

UCSB will be the lead institution on the project and will work mainly with web-based content and the producers of such materials, primarily federal government agencies and contractors. This content may be born digital, such as remote sensing imagery, or scanned from paper-based sources such as historic United States Geological Survey Open File Reports or topographic maps. UCSB will continue to enhance the collection development, preservation and delivery aspects of the Alexandria Digital Library (ADL).

Julie Sweetkind-Singer, head of the Branner Earth Sciences Library and GIS/map librarian, will be the lead for the Stanford team, which will include up to a dozen individuals at any time during the three-year project.

Currently, SULAIR is conducting a related effort, the Archival Ingest and Handling Test. The Library of Congress issued contracts in 2004 to Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Old Dominion, and Harvard to explore the logistics and best practices of working with large and heterogeneous sets of gathered digital materials.

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world. Through its National Digital Library Program (NDL), it is also one of the leading providers of noncommercial intellectual content on the Internet ( The NDL Program’s flagship American Memory project, in collaboration with other institutions nationwide, makes freely available more than 8.5 million American historical items.

In December 2000, Congress authorized the Library of Congress to develop and execute a congressionally approved plan for a National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. A $99.8 million congressional appropriation was made to establish the program, which seeks to build a network of committed U.S. partners who would work through a preservation architecture with defined roles and responsibilities.

The complete text of the “Plan for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program” is available at The plan was approved by Congress in December 2002.