Library of Congress Digital Collections Strategy Published

The following is co-authored with Joe Puccio, the Library of Congress Collection Development Officer.

Digital collections, and the work related to their acquisition, preservation and access, have become increasingly central to Library of Congress processes and our mission to serve Congress and the nation.

For the last five years, in accordance with the Library of Congress Digital Collecting Plan we have been working to make digital collecting a more routine and ongoing area of activity across the agency.

Building on those successes, we are now entering a new phase of maturity for the Library’s digital collections and that work is going to be guided over the next five years by the agency’s new Digital Collections Strategy.

The strategy reflects the input and expertise of staff from across the Library of Congress, including the Library Collections and Services Group, the U.S. Copyright Office, and the Library’s Office of the Chief Information Officer. Unlike the previous plan, which focused solely on acquiring digital content, the new strategy covers the full lifecycle of born-digital materials, from acquisition to preservation and user access.

Anticipated Results

The Strategy is intended to produce the following major results over its five-year life.

  • Move toward a digital-forward and e-preferred acquisitions model.
  • Support broad, diverse and inclusive collecting.
  • Improve service and access for users.
  • Modernize IT infrastructure to improve workflows and processes.
  • Support digital collections workforce development.

Primary Areas of Focus

The new strategy has four pillars, mirroring the Library of Congress Strategic Plan and Digital Strategy.  Its goals are as follows:

  1. Expand Access. To expand access to collections, the strategy focuses on open content; providing the broadest possible access to rights-restricted content; and simplifying and unifying access and discovery.
  2. Enhance Services. To enhance user services, the strategy seeks to expand copyright e-deposit; transition to e-preferred, in which digital formats are the preference instead of traditional physical formats, as appropriate across major collecting streams; modernizing documentary collecting to digitally document diverse perspectives on everyday life; and determining a unified approach to support collections use for digital scholarship.
  3. Optimize Resources. To help modernize operations, the strategy provides a framework to evaluate, reorganize and realign processes and structures to support an increasingly digital collection; train staff to manage a primarily digital acquisition program; and review all digital collections policy and governance groups.
  4. Measure Impact. To measure the impact of efforts, the strategy calls for user research to best enable access to the collections; establishing data tracking and analysis for collections to inform further collection development; and providing tools and data to staff to support continuous improvement of digital collections activities.

We plan to continue to share out about progress on work with digital collections here on The Signal, so stay tuned for more updates related to this going forward.