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Chapter 1. Introduction

State libraries and archives have traditionally managed, preserved, and provided public access to significant government information in paper and other traditional formats. More and more, however, this information is being created in digital form. Much of it has short-term value, but a considerable fraction must remain available for many years, in some cases, permanently. Unfortunately, states are finding their current preservation capabilities do not extend from paper to digital formats. All signs point to continued growth in the volume and complexity of this information and most libraries and archives are hampered in their efforts to respond to this growth by a host of technical and organizational shortcomings. These shortcomings include the lack of technology infrastructure as well as appropriate and sufficient skills. Moreover, underlying these shortcomings is a lack of comprehensive program strategies and personnel and funding resources to improve existing capabilities. Faced with these many challenges, library, archives, and records management units across the country and around the world are seeking new strategies and models to support their efforts to ensure long term access to information. Partnerships have emerged as one of the most viable strategies for securing the necessary resources and capabilities. Whether these partnerships span units within a single agency or multiple state and local governments and in some cases the federal government, their development requires knowledge of capabilities and priorities to be shared among potential partners.

National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP)
NDIIPP is developing a national strategy to collect, archive, and preserve the burgeoning amounts of digital content, especially materials that are created only in digital formats, for current and future generations. This effort includes identifying stakeholder communities and the digital material of concern to them. The Library has established an initial network of preservation partners and is exploring how best to work with additional stakeholders to expand the scope and impact of NDIIPP. NDIIPP has involved a number of domains. This particular exploration is focused on state governments and their digital information assets.

One effort in particular is focused on building the foundation of shared knowledge necessary for partnership development. In 2005 through its National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) the Library of Congress launched an effort to facilitate the development of digital preservation partnerships among states and territories.1 The Library of Congress is pursuing this agenda with a grant to the Center for Technology in Government.2 These efforts have generated four resources focused on building the capability of state and territorial governments to be successful in digital preservation programs and initiatives through the use of partnerships. This report represents the fourth in this series of resources; baseline data about digital preservation programs and capabilities within the states. The specific information of interest was outlined by participants at a series of workshops sponsored by the Library of Congress and then refined by an expert advisory board of state and federal library, archives, and records management professionals. Sharing knowledge about the status of digital preservation activities across the 50 states and territories was identified as the most important first step in building partnerships. This report contributes to this effort.

The Library of Congress States Workshops
As part of NDIIPP, the Library invited more than 150 representatives from state library, archives, records management, and information technology organizations to one of three workshops in the Washington DC area on April 27, May 11 and May 25, 2005. The purpose of the workshops was to assess interest in and current work in digital preservation, as well as to discuss the types of issues states are facing and how commonalities of interest can be leveraged to advance the NDIIPP collaborative partnership network.

The Library of Congress States Workshops were of great value in helping the Library learn about the complex issues faced by the states. Participants shared a bounty of facts about significant categories of digital information and helped identify some basic priorities. As discussed in the report on the workshops, attendees were enthusiastic, motivated, and keen to share ideas and experiences. According to that report, “the commitment—and even passion—for improving digital preservation among the workshop participants was ‘remarkable.’” Despite the barriers, there was no shortage of earnest optimism and suggestions for fostering partnership efforts and collaborative strategies toward preserving state government digital information. Participants identified a number of opportunities for partnerships within and across states, the federal government, and the academic and private sectors. In order to build new or strengthen existing partnerships, the participants identified the need for access to basic information about the existence and nature of ongoing preservation activities in other states. Participants suggested that the Library of Congress or other national organizations take the lead in developing resources to provide states access to this information.

To provide further context for this report, each of the resources developed as part of this overall effort are summarized below. A brief outline for the rest of the report and an overview of the survey and the data follows.
  1. Preservation of State Government Digital Information: Issues and Opportunities. The first report in the series reflects the findings of the Library of Congress States Workshops. These workshops included members of state library, archives, and records management units from all 50 states and several territories in discussions focused on key questions related to digital preservation capabilities. Workshop participants indicated that partnerships are the primary and in some cases, only, workable strategy for digital preservation initiatives. During the Workshop, the Library of Congress asked participants what they could do to assist in this effort. The response from the states was consistent across all three workshops – facilitate partnership development by collecting information about the current capabilities, institutions, and activities related to state-level digital preservation and to make that information available to states, territories, and other interest parties via the Web. The report from the workshops can be found at http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/partners/states_wkshps.pdf.

  2. Building State Government Digital Preservation Partnerships: A Capability Assessment and Planning Toolkit. The second product from this effort is a capability assessment and planning toolkit, developed by the Center for Technology in Government and released for use by the digital preservation community. This toolkit is designed to assist library, archives, records management, and information technology (IT) professionals in assessing where capability for digital preservation exists and where it must be developed in order to achieve the goal of preserving significant at-risk government information. The toolkit is designed to support agencies in their efforts to collectively determine if they have the capabilities necessary to succeed in digital preservation initiatives and to inform the development of strategies to build necessary, but missing, capabilities. This toolkit can be found at http://www.ctg.albany.edu/publications/guides/digital_preservation_partnerships.

  3. State Government Digital Preservation Profiles . The third product is the State Government Digital Preservation Profiles. This Web-based resource was produced in response to the interests of participants at the Library of Congress States Workshops. The Center for Technology in Government worked with the advisory committee to identify a set of topics around which to develop a useful baseline of state government digital information preservation efforts within the United States. These state profiles present information collected from those state and territorial library, archives, and records management units that completed the State Government Digital Information Preservation Survey (see Appendix F for a copy of the survey). This information is being made available to support the efforts of states to learn about each other, to identify potential partners, and to initiate partnership development efforts. The state profiles are available at http://www.ctg.albany.edu/publications/reports/digital_preservation_profiles.

  4. Preserving State Government Information in Digital Form: A Baseline Report. This report provides a baseline for state government digital information preservation capabilities and activities. It includes an analysis of the results across states and territories and presents several observations on the current digital preservation environment. The State Government Digital Preservation Profiles and this Baseline Report are both drawn from data collected through the State Government Digital Information Preservation Survey. The report includes a copy of the survey, a description of the survey process and a breakdown of the survey respondents. This report is available at http://www.ctg.albany.edu/publications/reports/digital_preservation_baseline.

1For more information about NDIIPP visit http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/about/index.html.
2National Science Foundation Grant No. ITR-0205152.