Re: [unrev-II] Library of Congress $100M Digital Preservation Project; potential funding for HyperScope/OHS/DKR?

From: John J. Deneen (
Date: Tue Oct 02 2001 - 22:50:01 PDT

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    Background on sources of funding and contacts for the Bootstrap Institute
    The Library of Congress receives its greatest monetary gift in its history from John W. Kluge for "Humanizing the Information Revolution", including
    additional government funds arranged from Senator Stevens of Alaska to extend "our national program to a global one."
    < >

    The following excerpts of the transcript of this speech by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington to the International Federation of Library Associations
    and Institutions Conference in Boston, Aug. 21, may be of interest to open-source OHS/DKR developers worldwide:

    [scroll to 1/2-page]
    "The Library of Congress has in recent years been trying to address precisely these two areas of national need with additional new programs that reach beyond
    our original National Digital Library Program.

    For the first stage of generating positive free content, Congress, led by Senator Stevens of Alaska, has begun to extend our national program to a global one
    by providing funds for a project in which the Library of Congress is collaborating with the national libraries of Russia and with other repositories in both
    countries. We have already digitized and put on-line nearly 100,000 primary documents that illustrate our parallel experience of these two former adversaries
    as continent-wide frontier societies, adding bilingual text from our curators. We have started another such project with Spain, and are in advanced
    discussions with two others. Our collaborative multinational projects are becoming more widely accessible through the electronic gateway of the Bibliotheca
    Universalis. Representatives from the G7 and six other European countries are coordinating their policies for digitizing primary documents. All 13
    participants have already contributed content for this Web site; and all this should eventually feed into a global on-line library and network.

    [scroll to 3/4-page]
    Last year for our Bicentennial we received the greatest monetary gift in our history from John W. Kluge, who has been chairman of the Library's first
    national private-sector support group since it was founded a decade ago. With his gift, we are setting up a new, and we hope, catalytic center for advanced
    study in the human sciences within the Thomas Jefferson Building on Capitol Hill, hoping renew the discourse between thinkers and doers that created America
    in the first place, bringing more of the life of the mind and spirit into the city of power and politics—a little more Greece, perhaps even a little of
    Alexandria, into Rome. We will be bringing from all over the world very senior scholars both to range widely in our multiform collections and put things
    together rather than just take them apart. And we will also be bringing to the center very young scholars who are not yet embarrassed to keep on asking big

    Our hope lies in the words of the prophet Joel:

         I will pour out my spirit on all mankind . . .
         Your old men will dream dreams,
         Your young men will see visions.

    Some of the best analysts of this new digital revolution have suggested that only artists can predict what the future will bring. So I end by quoting one of
    the great poets: T.S. Eliot's—famous lament, "Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

    "John J. Deneen" wrote:

    > October, 2001, MIT Enterprise Technology Review
    > Digital Preservation
    > By Claire Tristram
    > < >
    > Software
    > "Increasingly, the record of our civilization is becoming digital, from
    > census data to family photos. The Library of Congress alone has 35
    > terabytes of files. Yet rapid changes in computers and software could
    > render this data unreadable.
    > Congress recently allocated the library $100 million to look for a way
    > to preserve its files—one of the most ambitious efforts yet to tackle
    > digital obsolescence. "With that money we'll be able to gather the
    > technical people and the archivists and start to develop a prototype,"
    > says Abby Smith, preservation program officer with the Council on
    > Library and Information Resources, which is working on the project.
    > Part of the challenge is that computers and software gallop ahead, while
    > digital files remain static. The library's current solution is to
    > convert files to work with the updated systems every few years, but
    > "every time you convert something, you change it," says Jeff Rothenberg,
    > researcher at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, CA. Rothenberg
    > instead sees a solution in emulation software that can mimic a given
    > hardware platform, allowing one computer to act like an earlier one. To
    > demonstrate the approach's feasibility, he created a chain of emulators
    > linking a present-day PC to the 1949 EDSAC, one of the first computers.
    > "I was able to run any of the original EDSAC programs that were saved on
    > paper tape," he says.
    > Ray Lorie, research fellow at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose,
    > CA, is working on an approach that creates a digital road map of a
    > document at the time of its creation. Write a document, say, in Adobe
    > Premier, and the software generates a second file that describes the
    > content and formatting of the original document using a simple code.
    > That code would be readable by a "universal virtual computer"—an
    > emulator that mimics, not an earlier machine, but a hypothetical,
    > extremely simple computer. "In the future we'd only need some way of
    > interpreting this single virtual computer," says Lorie.
    > While the Library of Congress appropriation won't solve the problem of
    > digital preservation, it will allow for the first large-scale testing of
    > possible solutions like Lorie's and Rothenberg's. "The Library of
    > Congress project has a high enough profile that we might be able to get
    > the attention of technology industry, and to finally get some answers,"
    > says Smith."
    > ---------------------------------------------------------------
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