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IMLS Grants Relating to Digital Preservation

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The following is a guest post by Barrie Howard, Program Management Coordinator, NDIIPP.

This post is the second in a short series about U.S. government grant programs that have funded digital preservation since 2000. Readers can discover what the Library of Congress has accomplished through NDIIPP from the program’s website, and my previous post covered the National Endowment for the Humanities. Today I’ll focus on the Institute of Museum and Library Services and some exemplary work supported by the agency over the last decade.

IMLS logo

Since 2001, IMLS has contributed $11 million to the field of digital preservation, supporting two dozen projects to develop best practices, educational programs, infrastructure, tools, training workshops and web archiving under several programs. Over half of these federal funds were awarded to education and recruitment initiatives through the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program (LB21), which has made a significant contribution to both a new generation of librarians and established professionals seeking to re-tool for the digital age. LB21 grant recipients include institutions who have become leaders in digital preservation education and training, i.e., New York University, Northeast Document Conversation Center, and the universities of Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Texas at Austin.

The National Leadership Grants for Libraries program has also provided substantial support for a number of research and demonstration projects, which have increased awareness, built infrastructure and developed best practices and tools for digital preservation. The few examples below bookend a decade of lessons learned and are testimony to the value that IMLS has brought to the field:

  • The Council on Library and Information Resource environmental scan and resulting publication The State of Preservation Programs in American College and Research Libraries , a seminal study conducted by Anne Kenney and Deirdre Stam in 2001–2002, which included a snapshot of the level of maturity of digital preservation efforts in American higher education at the beginning of the new millennium. The survey still has currency in the field and CLIR Publications Manager Brian Leney reports there have been over 1,200 downloads of the publication in the past year alone.
  • The Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA), Cornell University and New York University Towards Interoperable Preservation Repositories collaborative testbed project , in which these three geographically distributed institutions—that are all running distinctly different digital preservation repositories—exchanged archival information packages between the three systems. As one of the project deliverables, the team designed and tested a standards-based transfer format utilizing bits and pieces from both METS and PREMIS schemas. Awarded in 2008, the period of performance for this grant activity finishes this month.
  • The Educational Broadcasting Corporation’s Refining a Digital Production Workflow in Public Television to Aggregate Video Assets for Educational Use project, which is focused on creating a set of media asset management (MAM) tools and a workflow for packaging and preserving digital video content. The goal is to make public media more accessible by reaching non-broadcast distribution channels that cross technical platforms. The project activities, launched in 2009, include identifying and adopting best practices, technical standards and metadata schema and infusing these into a digital production and preservation workflow.

Since IMLS serves both libraries and museums, it has provided support to digital preservation projects for the museum community through the National Leadership Grants for Museums and 21st Century Museum Professionals programs. The Northeast Document Conservation Center received funding in 2003 for a training initiative to disseminate tools and guidelines to small museums to assist in planning for the management and preservation of digital resources under the former program, and in 2005 for an initiative to provide training in the preservation of digital photographic collections, supported by the latter.

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