Activity still continues on the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIP). There were two stories in Washington DC newspapers in recent weeks. The more interesting of the two came from the May 16th Washington Post in a column by Jim Barksdale and Francine Berman called Saving our Digital Heritage. Barksdale — of Netscape Corp. fame and now a member of the NDIIP advisory council — and Berman make a brief but impassioned plea for restoring the NDIIP funding that was rescinded earlier this year. (The other article, in the Washington Times, (“Saving the digital record”, 25-Apr-2007, article no longer available online) oddly praises the program but makes no mention of the funding rescission.) And I heard today from an “Unnamed Washington Source” that the leadership at the Library of Congress will seek to have some, if not all, of the funding restored as part of a future continuing resolution. (Hopefully one that won’t get vetoed.)
Early last month I mentioned what was happening to NDIIP funds with the impending passage of what became Public Law 110-5 [PDF] and posted a copy of a letter I sent to my senators urging them to reconsider the funding rescission. Of course, I wasn’t the only one who asked congress to reconsider. Strangely (I thought) the Library of Congress has been silent on the topic. Silent until last week, that is.
Februrary 11, 2007
The Honorable George V. Voinovich
524 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
I am writing to you in regards to House Joint Resolution 20, the Continuing Appropriations resolution FY2007, and in particular section 20703(D)(3)(a) which rescinds the unobligated balances available for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). As a practicing librarian and technologist, I can appreciate the focus the NDIIPP brings to the difficult work of preserving our nation’s heritage — a heritage that is increasingly reliant on digital media.
In a federal fiscal year that began without nine of the 11 appropriations bills passed, there is legislation pending in the Senate that would ax funding for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program for the remainder of the fiscal year. Given the current political tone in Washington, one can only guess that someone thought the NDIIPP was part of an earmark. Either that or someone with a bee in their bonnet for the NDIIP is using this moment in time to exact revenge on the program. Either way, this is one moment in time that I’m spurred to join the national debate on legislation before our Congress. (Looking at the site statistics for DLTJ.org I know a number of readers are outside the United States. I hope you’ll indulge me or a moment.)