The Library of Congress has published its latest digital strategy, laying out a bold plan to "exponentially grow" its collections through digital acquisitions; "maximize the use of content" by providing machine-readable rights data and using interoperable formats and better search; to support data-driven research with giant bulk-downloadable corpuses of materials and metadata; to improve its website; to syndicate Library assets to other websites; to crowdsource the acquisition of new materials; to experiment with new tools and techniques; and to preserve digital assets with the same assiduousness that the Library has shown with its physical collection for centuries.
The LoC has a curiously outsized role in the digital era: because it contains the Copyright Office — and because the Copyright Office is patient zero in the epidemic of terrible internet law that reaches into every corner of our lives — the Library has become a political football, with Congress vying to put it under Congressional oversight (and in reach of heavily lobbied Committee chairs) and/or to tear out the Copyright Office.
The new Librarian of Congress is the most freedom-friendly, internet-friendly, access-friendly leader in the Library's history, replacing unfit leaders who were brought down in grotesque corruption scandals. But her leadership has fallen short: the Copyright Office is still a creature of Big Content, and it has direct oversight over your ability to modify, repair, sell, and use all of your digital property.
So this digital strategy is a very bright light, but it shines in a dark and menacing cave. I love the Library — I love its work, its collections, its diligent and thoughtful staff, its magnificent building. But for all that, the Library has become a locus of terrible policy that runs directly counter to its mission. The contradiction between the Library's mission and its real role in policy has never been more clear than it is in this wonderful document.
The Library of Congress's mission is to engage, inspire, and inform the Congress and the American people with a universal and enduring source of knowledge and creativity. To accomplish that mission, the Library is adopting a digital-forward strategy that harnesses technology to bridge geographical divides, expand our reach, and enhance our services. This document describes how we will secure the Library's position in an increasingly digital world as we realize our vision that all Americans are connected to the Library of Congress.
The Digital Strategy complements the Library's 2019-2023 strategic plan, Enriching the User Experience, which enumerates four high-level goals: expand access, enhance services, optimize resources, and measure results. The Digital Strategy describes what the Library plans to accomplish, in terms of digital transformation, over the next five years to achieve these goals. The transformation we describe below applies to all of the Library's programs, including our collections, researcher services, the United States Copyright Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
Digital technology enables us to sustain and expand services to all users, bridging gaps and strengthening connections. The Digital Strategy describes how we will use each interaction as an opportunity to move users along a path from awareness, to discovery, to use, and finally to a connection with the Library through three main goals: throwing open the treasure chest, connecting, and investing in our future.
Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress [Library of Congress]