Saturday, July 31, 2021

Library Of Congress Goes Grid

Grid computing technology may soon be used to preserve such priceless
artifacts of American history as films of the Spanish-American War and
the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the photographs of Matthew Brady and
Ansel Adams, and Walt Whitman’s notebooks.

The Library of Congress is evaluating Grid technology developed at the
San Diego Supercomputer Center to archive and preserve these works and
the Library’s other digital collections.

The Library has assembled numerous important digital collections such as
American Memory, a treasure trove of
films, recordings, photos and documents from U.S history and culture.
The collection, “rich primary source materials on the history and
culture of the United States,” contains more than 7.5 million digital
items on more than 100 topics from the collections of the Library and
other repositories. Items include encoded text, images, and audio and
video files varying in size from 25 kilobytes to 5 megabytes each, for a
total of some 8 terabytes of digital data.

Powerful data Grid technologies such as the Storage Resource Broker
(SRB) developed at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) for
scientific computing are showing promise of being able to preserve these
digital holdings. SDSC and the Library are collaborating to evaluate the
SRB data Grid software to preserve and manage priceless national digital
collections.

“We’re interested in how the SRB can be applied to the task of building
a repository for managing Library of Congress digital holdings,” said
Martha Anderson of the Library’s Office of Strategic Initiatives.


‘Repurposing’ Collections

“We’re entering an era in which digital libraries can be used to
preserve intellectual capital,” said Reagan Moore, co-director of the
Data and Knowledge Systems program at SDSC. “And beyond preservation,
the ability to discover the information and knowledge content within
digital holdings will add even greater value to these collections.”

The researchers will investigate the capabilities of the SRB to manage
and “repurpose” Library of Congress collections. Repurposing a
collection involves giving users the ability to generate new views of
the digital holdings. For example, a user might want to gather the
material in the American Memory collection that is relevant to a landing
on Mars. This material might involve NASA material on the mission and
space vehicle, Congressional material on the budget debates involving
the funding, and other material that puts the mission in historical
context.

The collaboration will involve the installation at the Library of
Congress of the SRB software and the Metadata Catalog, which keeps track
of each digital object. Library of Congress staff will then build a test
collection and use it to evaluate the capabilities of the SRB data Grid
middleware to preserve both the collection and descriptive information
about the collection; to enable a naming convention that spans the
entire collection, no matter where its components are located; to merge
different collections seamlessly into new virtual collections; and to
control access.

Library of Congress researchers are also interested in
evaluating the ability of the SRB to interoperate with other systems
using open standards.

“We’re looking forward to the research opportunities this collaboration
will give us to understand how digital library, data Grid, and
persistent archive technologies can all be integrated in support of
preservation of digital holdings,” said Moore. “This will help extend
our ability to preserve intellectual capital.”

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