Library of Congress

Digital Preservation

The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > News Archive > July 2004 News Archiv

February 26, 2004

The Library of Congress is working with several major institutions to test the transfer of a digital archive in its entirety in order to assess the process of digital acquisition, or ingest, to determine how the transfer affects the archive's digital integrity and to study how various preservation systems handle the digital content.

The test, which began in February 2004, is part of continuing work of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), a national collaborative effort to preserve digital materials that is being led by the Library of Congress at the request of the U.S. Congress.

The Test Case

The Archive Ingest and Handling Test is designed to:

  • test the transfer of a digital archives in toto from one institution to another,
  • assess the process of digital ingest,
  • document useful practices,
  • discover how the handling of digital material may be automated and
  • identify areas that require further research or development.

The Library of Congress has chosen as a test subject the September 11 Digital Archive ( (external link)), which contains content collected from the public immediately following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The archive offers two advantages of scale: It is large enough to present significant metadata management issues (57,000 files and approximately 20 file types), but small enough (12 gigabytes) to present few difficulties in storage or transfer.

Test Categories

The first phase of the test is primarily concerned with the operation of individual preservation approaches employed by each institution. Participants will test whether the archive transferred to the various institutions resulted in the preservation of all its components, including metadata. During this phase, the participants will also study alternative formats for the preservation of digital data in anticipation of format obsolescence as technology changes.

The second phase of the archive test will focus on cooperation among institutions, examining the issues and protocol requirements for the exporting and importing of an entire archive, or collection, with accompanying metadata among institutions using different preservation approaches. The participants in the test will learn how to develop appropriate strategies for delivery method and format.

A final report will be published.