Press Archive

SDSC Launches Sustainable Archives and Library Technologies Lab

Published 01/26/2004

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego, internationally recognized for leadership in large-scale scientific data management and knowledge discovery, has recently organized the Sustainable Archives and Library Technologies (SALT) lab.

Directed by Richard Marciano, Lead Scientist and lab director, the SALT lab is part of SDSC's Data and Knowledge Systems (DAKS) program. The lab will develop information technology strategies and conduct research in the areas of digital archiving and long-term preservation. With an interdisciplinary emphasis, the SALT lab will also explore related technologies and research issues in the areas of historical information science and computing in the humanities, and urban-regional planning and development.

"With the rapid advance of information technologies, valuable digital data collections are growing exponentially, not only in science but across all sectors of society," said Reagan Moore, co-director of SDSC's DAKS program. "The creation of standard digital reference sets of both observational and simulation data is driving the development of digital collections. Preservation environments ensure that the digital reference sets will not be lost due to obsolescence of technology."

For example, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) faces a daunting challenge in dealing with the glut of government records being created with rapidly changing information technologies. How can NARA archivists, who are charged with preserving government data for centuries, store the federal government's electronic records so that they will be accessible in the future as easily as we can now read the words on the original of the 214-year-old U.S. Constitution? Computer users with a stack of 5.25 inch floppy discs and music lovers with LP records from the 1960s can appreciate the problem of accessing yesterday's information with today's technologies.

Persistent archiving technologies developed at SDSC are playing a pivotal role in NARA's efforts to provide future access to authentic government electronic records in the Electronic Records Archives Program (ERA). These technologies, which will be extended in SALT lab activities, are central to the future of data collections, not only for government records but also for scientific data in the emerging national cyberinfrastructure and beyond.

"Archiving and preservation of digital information are vital for the end-to-end life cycle management of digital information," said Marciano. "But beyond the preservation of irreplaceable digital collections, these technologies can also play key roles in extracting new insights from old information - illuminating our present challenges with the light of historical understanding gleaned from existing collections."

SALT Lab projects will further develop SDSC end-to-end data and knowledge management technologies, including the publication and repurposing of collections in digital libraries and the preservation, migration, self-validation, and self-instantiation of collections in persistent archives (see overview article on "Persistent Digital Archives: A Knowledge-Based Approach" at http://www.npaci.edu/online/v4.25/persistent-archives.html). Areas of interest to SALT researchers include development of web-based records management and archival services; preservation of intellectual capital; modeling and automation of preservation processes, collection completeness and anomaly detection; distributed and grid storage; the management of complex and dynamic digital entities; automated metadata creation, formats of digital entities, and repurposing; as well as the conservation of cultural memory, global access to open knowledge, and support for cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Marciano brings nearly 20 years of research and teaching to the SALT lab, with membership on standards committees of organizations including the project International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES), and funded research projects for agencies including the NSF, NARA, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), Library of Congress, the California Digital Library (CDL), and others. Collaborators in these projects include scientists, computer scientists, and urban planners, as well as archivists and state records managers.

With degrees in Avionics and Electrical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Computer Science, Marciano has long pursued interdisciplinary research, participating in projects to bridge information technology with areas from digital libraries, archives and records management, and regional and urban planning, to history, the visual arts, and the social sciences.

SDSC's DAKS program is creating cyberinfrastructure for scalable, end-to-end knowledge discovery pipelines in data-intensive computing. Integrated enabling technologies for data and knowledge management extend from data creation in simulations and data gathering in sensor networks to data grid tools; massive storage; large-scale databases; data mining; knowledge integration; publishing in digital libraries; and long-term preservation and migration in persistent archives. For more information on data-related activities at SDSC, see the DAKS website at http://daks.sdsc.edu/. - Paul Tooby

Related Links

Sustainable Archives and Library Technologies (SALT) - http://daks.sdsc.edu/salt/index.html
Data and Knowledge Systems (DAKS) program - http://daks.sdsc.edu/
SDSC Storage Resource Broker (SRB) - http://www.sdsc.edu/DICE/SRB/
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) - http://www.archives.gov/
National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) - http://www.archives.gov/grants/index.html
California Digital Library (CDL) - http://www.cdlib.org/