The Computing Cultural Heritage in the Cloud project will pilot ways to make large digital collections such as those held by the Library of Congress accessible for modern computational research. To that end, the library's digital innovation team will invite a cohort of research experts to experiment with cloud-based solutions to research problems that can only be explored at scale. It is hoped the effort will create models for supporting computational cloud-based research and make the costs and possibilities of the work more apparent to the broader cultural heritage community.
The project is a component of LoC's digital strategy, a five-year plan to transform access and digital services, with a focus on sharing collections as broadly as possible. In addition to expanding its digital collections — in which the institution has invested heavily since 1993 — the library will promote and enable all lawful uses of its digital collections, including those based on emerging styles of research. According to the library, the CCHC project will enable the library to realize its new vision "to connect all Americans to the Library of Congress" by providing a mechanism to build a user-centered access model for computation.
Earlier this year, the foundation awarded a grant of $540,000 to the library to evaluate the physical health of books in American research libraries and help guide their archival retention and preservation decisions.
"As technology advances, we envision a future in which all users — researchers, artists, students, and more — are only limited by the questions they can think to ask; where scale, complexity, uniqueness, and speed are aligned to support their goals and result in fundamentally transformed ways of understanding the world around us," said Kate Zwaard, Library of Congress director of digital strategy. "We're excited that the Mellon Foundation has agreed to help us explore how to make our vision a reality."