Library of Congress National Digital Library Program
Historically, the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC) has been vilified, harshly criticized and even scandalized as a huge federally sponsored operation for economic exploitation. Such widespread sentiments seem to stem from the same basic singular theme: monopolized forum for formal registration required to perfect valid copyrights to proprietary IP.
During recent years, however, LOC's reputation is undergoing a radical makeover from official predator to premier source of a vastly diverse infinite quantity of any desired data in digitized format.
Developmental history of LOC's National Digital Library Program
LOC's National Digital Library Program (NDLP) is a relatively new initiative that aims to assemble a full digital library of reproduced primary source materials that support and preserve U.S. history and cultural heritage.
First launched as a five-year program in 1995, the NDLP commenced selective digitization of LOC-archived collections that document America's rich cultural heritage. Towards a primary objective to reproduce large-volume collections of various pamphlets, movies, books, manuscripts and audio recordings, NDLP has developed several digital subsidiary databases with a wide variety of digitized materials.
Chief cited examples include, but are by no means limited to the following:
- Grayscale and color pictorials
- Bitonal documentary images
- Audio files
- Digital videos
- Searchable e-texts
Primary duplication device utilization in LOC's National Digital Library Project
All NDLP reproduced digital collections were created with various high-tech tools that run a full gambit from digital cameras, to image scanners, to manual text rekeying and encoding, to specialized devices specifically designed for digitizing audio-visual material. Moreover, all digitizing methods are fully compliant with long-established industry standards for digital reproductions.
Top-notch NDLP collections topics
Topics below represent a partial listing of most popular NDLP data topics:
- America - Technology, Industry, Towns, Cities, Literature, Culture, Music, Performing Arts, Folklore, Landscape, Architecture, Sports, Environment, Recreation
- U.S. - Military, Law, Government, Marketing, Conservation and Religion
- U.S. - Women's History, Presidents, African American History, American Expansion, Native American History, War, Immigration
NDLP Educational outreach efforts ostensibly exceeded original expectations
In conjunction with launching NDLP in 1995, LOC assembled a large coalition of leading K-12 history and social studies teachers, in addition to and prominent librarians from across the U.S. This Educator's Forum was organized for the primary purpose of brainstorming about the best ways to utilize Web-based archived resources in America's schools.
Educator's Forum participants verified prior findings that despite the very high demand for primary resources, teachers need the expertise and skills for effective usage. In addition, teachers require supplemental materials to devise their personalized collections and encompassed subject matters.
Toward those ends, LOC integrated a Learning Page feature in 1996 that functions as a gateway to digitized collections. Such collections provide contextual data, auto-assisted search capabilities and in-evaluations of in-progress materials project developments. In mid-1998, LOC decided to retain its American Memory Fellows Program with an aim toward grooming champions for its collections that reside in schools throughout the U.S.
NDLP's envisioned future destiny
NDLP's stated primary mission is to extend service offerings at LOC's stick-and-brick facility to the entire Web-based world. Despite a major shift from its original main focus on meeting constantly pressing urgent needs of the U.S. Congress, globalized online interactions are reportedly an issue with which LOC continues to struggle.
Last words about latest Web-based LOC Project
Many controversial issues and problematic aspects that may pose serious threats to NDLP's long-term forward progress were discovered from background research for this Article. Despite that, this author has full confidence that all persistent glitches and stubbornly resistant "wrinkles" will eventually work themselves out. Like virtually all novel conceptual designs and revolutionary service delivery models, some level of experimentation via old-fashioned trial-and-error is merely part of the territory.
After all, if anything like whatever is under development had ever existed before, there would be no need to risk wasting precious scarce resources on infeasible strategies. A famous clich� advises, "Nothing ventured - nothing gained." Its timeless truth is well proven. Thus, time will always the best truth-teller when it comes to new Web-based ventures. Meanwhile, the entire online community can play a part in facilitating sustainability of novel projects that will ultimately serve its best interests.
Therefore, readers are urged to visit http://loc.gov/library/libarch-digital.html right now to get a closer look at what collaborative human ingenuity can accomplish. Then take affirmative action to begin making positive personal contributions to LOC's National Digital Library Program.