Last month our nation's Library of Congress held a strategy meeting with leading producers of commercial content in digital formats such as television, radio, music, film, photography, pictorial art, and yes, video games. The Library and the respective content producers "are keenly interested in the preservation of their digital materials for archival and other purposes."
Although most politicians in Washington would loathe to admit it, video games are becoming a part of America's cultural heritage. Even the most controversial games such as those in the Grand Theft Auto franchise could potentially be preserved and archived at the Library of Congress.
"We are faced with the potential disappearance of our cultural heritage if we don't act soon and act together to preserve digital materials," said Laura E. Campbell, the Library's chief information officer and associate librarian for Strategic Initiatives. "We have learned from our experience that long-term preservation of digital content is dependent on influencing decisions of content providers from the moment of creation."
Campbell also noted that it will be important to decide exactly how to preserve digital content because "digital materials are inherently 'fragile,' due to their ease of alteration or susceptibility to loss once they are produced."
This "Preserving Creative America" initiative was spearheaded by the Library's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). NDIIPP will reach out to other organizations, institutions, libraries and archives (in both the public and private sectors) in a collaborative effort to "collect and preserve the historic and cultural heritage of America, much of which is now being created only in digital form with no analog (physical) equivalent." The goal is to eventually form a "nationwide 'digital preservation network' of partners dedicated to preserving digital content and sharing their expertise with other electronic content providers and archives."
In order to spark preservation work in the private sector as well, later this year the Library will issue a request for expressions of interest from private industry for cooperative projects.
"The ultimate goal is that the cooperative projects the Library pursues with private industry will inform the greater population of commercial content owners and cultural heritage institutions in the establishment of such parameters as content formats, metadata standards, system architecture and other technical elements," said the Library.