And when those things happen, information that could be of value to future generations of researchers is lost forever.

The University of Louisville has been working with five other universities to help preserve electronic data since 2004, with funding from the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). Recently, the Library of Congress gave the group, called MetaArchive Cooperative, $659,052 to continue its work.

MetaArchive Cooperative will use the money to continue its mission of encouraging and supporting universities, libraries, archives, museums and government agencies to preserve digital information from blackouts, fires and weather disasters and basic hardware and software failure.

Through the cooperative network, UofL is preserving uncompressed audio and image files from University Libraries’ digitized materials related to Southern history and culture. The files include oral histories of African Americans and historic images of people, places and crafts from Kentucky.

The libraries soon will add born-digital documentation of the Aug. 4, 2009 flood which caused extensive damage on UofL campuses and within the city of Louisville, as well as born-digital and digitized theses and dissertations.

In addition to UofL, founding members are Emory University, Auburn University, Florida State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Since the cooperative became an independent organization in 2007, membership has grown to include Boston College, Clemson University, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Rice University, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Hull in the UK. 

New members come into the cooperative at the discretion of its steering committee, of which UofL is a member.