The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program at the Library of Congress has named Larry Carver, retired Director of Library Technologies and Digital Initiatives at University of California at Santa Barbara, as a digital preservation pioneer.
Here's an excerpt from the UCSB press release:
"We at the UCSB Library are thrilled that Larry Carver has received this important and well-deserved recognition," said Brenda Johnson, university librarian. "His tireless and innovative work in the development of the Map and Imagery Lab and the Alexandria Digital Library has brought international attention to our library and has benefited thousands of scholars, students, and members of the public from around the world. We offer him our heartiest congratulations on being named a Library of Congress ‘Pioneer of Digital Preservation.'" . . .
Carver began his career at the library where he helped build an impressive collection of maps, aerial photography, and satellite imagery that led to the development of the Map and Imagery Laboratory (MIL) in 1979. As the MIL collections grew, Carver felt that geospatial data presented a unique challenge to the library. He believed that coordinate-based collections should be managed differently than book-based collections. But not everyone agreed with him.
"It became apparent that handling traditional geospatial content in a typical library context was just not satisfactory and another means to control that data was important," he said. "It wasn't as easy as it sounds. I was in a very conservative environment, and they were not easily convinced that this was something a library should do."
Carver and others spent years developing an exhaustive set of requirements for building a geospatial information management system. The system had a number of innovative ideas. "We included traditional methods of handling metadata but also wanted to search by location on the Earth's surface," Carver said. "The idea was that if you point to a place on the Earth you could ask the question, 'What information do you have about that space?,' as opposed to a traditional way of having to know ahead of time who wrote about it."
An opportunity to develop that system arrived in 1994 when UCSB received funding from the National Science Foundation for Carver and his team to build the Alexandria Digital Library. "We produced the first operational digital library that was based on our research," Carver said. "Our concentration was to be able to develop a system that could search millions of records with latitude and longitude coordinates and present those results via the Internet."
The basic concepts behind the Alexandria Digital Library have been widely adopted by Google Earth, Wikipedia, and others. Carver couldn't be more delighted.
"I think it's wonderful," Carver said. "We weren't trying to be the only game in town. We were just trying to raise consciousness way back in the early 1980s that this was a viable way of handling geospatial material. This approach lets people interact with data in a realistic way without having a great deal of knowledge about an individual object. It was a new way of dealing with massive amounts of information in an environment that made finding and accessing information much easier."
Read more about it at "Digital Preservation Pioneer: Larry Carver."