Expanding Digital Collecting at the Library

This is a guest post from Joe Puccio, Collection Development Officer in the Collection Development Office, that describes the progress toward the goals of the five year plan described in Collecting Digital Content at the Library of Congress.  

In January 2017, the Library of Congress adopted a set of strategic steps related to its acquisition of digital content. Expansion of the digital collecting program was seen as an essential part of the institution’s strategic goal to: Acquire, preserve, and provide access to a universal collection of knowledge and the record of America’s creativity. This five-year plan, which was approved by Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, is described in Collecting Digital Content at the Library of Congress.

Implementation began immediately, following a framework categorized into six objectives:

  • Maximize receipt and addition to the Library’s collections of selected digital content submitted for copyright purposes
  • Expand digital collecting via routine modes of acquisitions (primarily purchase, exchange and gift)
  • Focus on subscription and purchased electronic resources
  • Expand use of web archiving to acquire digital content
  • Develop and implement an acquisitions program for openly available content
  • Expand collecting of appropriate datasets and other large units of content

With the program implementation well into its third year, staff in the Library’s Collection Development Office conducted a formal status check this past August. There are over 70 targets (actions) supporting the objectives listed above. Thirty have been completed thus far. The remaining work is either awaiting start-up, is already in process or is being adjusted to meet the ever changing landscape of digital collecting.

There have been many notable accomplishments among the completed targets and actions, including the following:

  • Registration of newspaper e-prints was established by the Copyright Office, and system development was completed to make the content available onsite to the Library’s users.
Screenshot of details for registering newspaper e-prints featuring the Los Angeles Times.

Screenshot of details for accessing newspaper e-prints onsite, featuring the Los Angeles Times

  • The number of publishers participating in the Cataloging in Publication e-books program has grown to over one thousand.
  • A first-ever formal assessment of the Library’s purchased and leased electronic resources collection was conducted.
  • The Library developed a model electronic resources license agreement, which it has used with several vendors.
  • Web archiving was piloted as a method to acquire state government documents that were formerly received by the Library in print.
  • Multiple pilots to acquire open access monographs were successfully completed. (See posts earlier this year on April 29 and July 8.)
Screenshot of the webpage for an open access monograph acquired in the Digital Collecting process: Who Takes the Train.

Example of an open access monograph acquired in the Digital Collecting process: Who Takes the Train.

  • As a pilot, the Library acquired the entire English language Wikipedia.
  • Initial collecting guidance on datasets was issued in 2017 and subsequently was updated and expanded in a 2019 revision.

Staff from all areas of the Library – acquisitions, collection development, reference, cataloging, information technology and the Copyright Office – are working to make this happen. I am thrilled by the progress that has been made and look forward to a point within the next couple of years when digital collecting at scale of selected content is business as usual at the nation’s library.

More Information

Please share your questions or comments about this plan’s implementation or any aspect of the Library’s collection building program below.

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