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Library of Congress Groans Under Data Strain

ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you think that your business is having a tough time coping with the data explosion, then spare a thought for the Library of Congress, which has to find some way of tackling a mind-blowing amount of information.

The digital revolution is comparable to the one started by Gutenberg more 500 years ago,” said Laura Campbell, the archive's associate librarian, referring to the first book printed with movable type.

In its 208-year history, the library has collected more than 138 million items in 450 languages, ranging from manuscripts to maps and sound recordings, but the Internet era poses a whole new set of challenges.

”We estimate that in the current digital age, the amount of information produced every 15 minutes is equivalent to all the data and information now in the Library of Congress,” explained Campbell, during a keynote this morning. “The library can no longer collect everything.”

From TV shows to Web pages, geospatial images, and electronic documents, Campbell and her team have had to work out an entirely new preservation strategy for the Library of Congress.

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