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NCSU Libraries, Library of Congress to save at-risk data

At-risk data, such as digital maps, will be safeguarded with the cooperative efforts of the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries and the Library of Congress.

The agreement between the two will set aside $1.044 million, slightly over half of which will be contributed by the N.C. State libraries.

The project, conducted through the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, was announced on Sept. 30.

The project will involve a partnership with the North Carolina Center for Geographic Information and Analysis. Together, the partners will attempt to collect and preserve at-risk digital geospatial data resources from state and local government agencies. NCSU Libraries and the Library of Congress are concerned about securing the digital rights to these documents and also providing access to the documents and at-risk data. The at-risk data includes digitized maps, GIS data sets, and digital aerial photography, all of which have varied uses.

“A wide range of state and local agencies create these forms of data for use in tax assessment, transportation planning, hazard analysis, health planning, political redistricting, homeland security and utilities management,” said Steven Morris, head of Digital Library Initiatives. NCSU Libraries received this project due to its experience working with local governments in acquiring GIS data and also due to the GIS activity on campus.

NCSU Libraries began compiling this data in the mid-90s. In 2003, NCSU Libraries received an International Special Achievement in GIS award. Several other universities competed for similar opportunities. Universities receiving grants include the University of California-Santa Barbara and Stanford University. They are also working on geospatial projects.

Students, faculty and staff will all be able to use this information for research projects. Some prime examples will be evident in “student research projects and exercises for class in fields such as natural resources, soil science, agriculture, civil engineering and education,” according to Morris. The initiative will also create student jobs.

According to Morris, the NCSU Libraries will be hiring qualified students with backgrounds in GIS or computer science. The jobs they will complete are varied.

“These tasks will include transferring data, ingesting data into the repository and creating and assigning metadata for the data,” Morris said.

The NCSU Libraries worked very closely with colleges within the university to jump-start this program. “The Center for Earth Observation within the College of Natural Resources was instrumental in helping to get the Libraries’ GIS program going,” Morris said.