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A Blog About Saving Bits

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We are excited and happy that the Library of Congress digital preservation program is now part of the blogosphere.

Laser Hello World, scanlime,
Laser Hello World, by scanlime, on Flickr

Our official name is the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, or NDIIPP (pronounced “n-dip”).

You might find the acronym cryptic. But the name packs in a lot of meaning and a big mission. Plus, it kind of grows on you.

When Congress directed the Library to undertake a national digital preservation program in 2000, the intent was to address the challenge of digital preservation on a broad scale. It was then obvious that our society was generating huge amounts of digital content that had no print equivalent.

Equally clear was that some percentage of this digital content had enduring value for documenting a record of our time. But creation of digital information has far outpaced our national ability to keep content accessible over time. Technological churn and change left important information at risk of loss. In forming NDIIPP, Congress sought to lessen this risk.

Over the last 10 years we have built a national network of collaborative partnerships to help preserve important digital content, build new tools and develop best practices. The partnerships span different communities, including universities, federal and state government agencies and the commercial creative content industry.  This is a new approach. Libraries, archives and other memory institutions traditionally have worked separately to acquire and manage their collections. But digital is different—it calls for a new kind of capacity that is difficult for a single institution to build on its own. The only practicable way forward is collaboration: in building technical infrastructure, in sharing knowledge, in developing best practices and in assigning roles and responsibilities for stewarding digital collections.

miss p
miss p, by sicoactiva, on Flickr

Collaboration is a great subject to talk about but hard to actually do. There are a host of barriers, often social, that can block action at any point.

That’s why it is often said that technology is the easy part of digital preservation; social is the hard part. We have always done our best to remember this, and have put a lot of effort into outreach and engagement.

Face to face meetings are great, but as a practical matter a good bit of our outreach has taken place via the internet, which I suppose is fitting. Our website,, has grown into a rich collection of information and resources. We have interviewed experts, listed tools and services, reported on meetings and shared information from around the world.

We want to do even better. There are more perspectives to explore, more practices to share, more ways to engage with all organizations that have a stake in preserving access to digital information. The audience for us to interact with is potentially vast, as we are very interested in personal digital archiving: helping individuals and families preserve their digital photographs and other digital files that document their lives.

This is why we are launching this blog. We’re drawing on the amazing talent and energy of the NDIIPP staff to talk about current issues and solutions relating to digital stewardship.

We’ll spend time looking at the very big (such dealing with huge scientific databases) and the very small (managing modest collections of personal digital documents). There will be lively interviews with people from many fields. It will be practical. It will be fun.

We’re looking forward to your comments, including ideas for what we should explore in these pages.

Comments (8)

  1. What a sense of relief I felt when I read the announcement of this newly launched blog. Why? because as a society we have clearly made a shift to a digital world and unlike our material history we won’t have physical artifacts to uncover and information about our history to discover. Digital information does have a benefit in terms of searchability. That’s assuming the bits of information are available and the format can be read in the future. I look forward to learning how to preserve my digital information so that it will become another layer in the human history archive. Wayne Eastep

    • Thank you for your comment. You are quite right in saying that much of the recorded evidence of our culture is shifting to digital and that we face a serious new challenge in keeping it accessible. Our blog will explore this challenge, along with ways to meet it.

  2. Thanks for starting this blog. At Chronicle of Life Foundation (, we also try to help people preserve their digital memories, and guarantee their data forever. We will link back to this page.

  3. This blog doesn’t show up correctly on my iphone 3gs – you might want to try and repair that

    • Thanks for the notice–our tech staff will check it out.

  4. Thanks for sharing this blog. I’ll look forward to learning new ways of preserving digital information!

    Teachers Business

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