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The Library of Congress > Digital Preservation > News Archive > State Legislators Hear About Digital Preservation

May 28, 2009 -- State legislators are on the front lines of the current fiscal crisis, constantly on the lookout for information management solutions that can work within their tightly constrained budgets. Recent Library of Congress-supported research may offer a window on potential solutions.

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program hosted a meeting in late April of the National Conference of State Legislators (external link), bringing state legislators and their information technology representatives to the Library to hear about recent projects that are leveraging existing investments and technology solutions to both preserve and provide access to valuable state legislative information.

The NCSL partners were in Washington for their annual meeting, and the legislators were open to cost-effective approaches that would provide support for their mandated obligations to preserve valuable government information.

Bob Horton, the State Archivist of Minnesota and the principle investigator of the Model Technological and Social Architecture for the Preservation of State Government Digital Information project, set the table for discussion with a presentation outlining their explorations around preserving and providing enhanced access to state legislative data.

Kansas State Senate, 1905

Kansas State Senate, 1905. Click on image for a larger version. (Image Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division).

Horton noted that a public accustomed to the ease of access provided by Google is not always satisfied by the services offered by state governments to make information accessible. At the same time, many states have been reluctant to make their raw data available for others to use to create access tools due to privacy concerns and other issues. The Minnesota-lead project is exploring ways to make legislative data easier to preserve and more accessible at the same time.

The project is expanding its reach over the next year, bringing in new members and working more closely with some of its long-standing partners. Horton discussed the work of one of those partners, the state of Kansas, which is implementing an ambitious program of public access to government information.

The Kansas Keep Archives Project will provide a trustworthy digital repository for government electronic records with enduring value. This work coincides nicely with the Minnesota work, making the state an ideal project partner.

Horton noted that the first steps are to test their research model in Minnesota, then determine the capacity of other states to adopt the model. They also plan to widely promote their findings through education and outreach, and are partnering with the NCSL for assistance in that phase of work.