When one of the world's great visionaries, Thomas Jefferson, sold his personal library to the Library of Congress in 1815, he had what was then considered to be a “universal library,” not in the sense that he had every book ever published, but that his collection was universal in scope – covering all subjects of knowledge and encompassing volumes from around the world, many of them in non-English languages.Jefferson's love of knowledge and belief that all fields of endeavor and creativity were worthy of inclusion in the national library are the guiding principles upon which the Library of Congress was founded in 1800. And they guide us today as well, even though the universe of what is worth collecting has expanded far beyond anything even Jefferson could have imagined.Of course, all of you know the reason why: The digital age has led a revolution comparable to the one started by Gutenberg more than 500 years ago. We have more of everything – more books and other printed publications; media invented in the last century, such as film and sound recording; and media that only exists in bits and bytes.Through all of these information upheavals, the Library of Congress's mission has remained unchanged during its more than 200-year history, as we struggle to maintain that “universal” collection that Congress and the American people expect of their nation's library. The collection, storage and preservation of this inexhaustible flow of information is a problem facing all archival institutions large and small, as well as private industry, state and local governments and federal institutions.The Library of Congress can no longer collect everything, and it can no longer assume the costs of collection and storage as it did when everything we had to deal with was in analog form. We have thus formed a network of more than 100 partners from the public and private sectors to collect and preserve this content that is at risk of loss. And, just as important, the network is catalyzing a nation of digital preservation activists who will help us spread the word – as well as the technical expertise – on the importance and know-how of digital preservation.
Laura E. Campbell, "Doing More with Less: The Future of Digital Preservation in a Constrained Environment" in Proc. IS&T Archiving 2008, 2008, pp 258 - 263, https://doi.org/10.2352/issn.2168-3204.2008.5.1.art00052