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LDI Overview

The Library Digital Initiative, established in 1998, has enabled Harvard libraries to maintain and grow collections and services in the digital era. Through the activities of the Initiative, the Harvard libraries have developed systems, policies, and services, to support the "collecting" of digital resources at Harvard similar to the infrastructure the libraries have long had for the collecting of research resources in other formats. "Infrastructure" was defined broadly to include not just automated systems, but also staff expertise and service facilities. The intent of the Initiative was twofold:

  • for libraries, to reduce the complexity inherent today in making digital research materials available;
  • for library users, to make University's digital "collection" as well organized and accessible as the libraries have always tried to make traditional collections.

Harvard's libraries have been acquiring digital materials for some time. The University's decentralization, however, meant that in the natural course of things these separate acquisitions involved overlapping and uncoordinated solutions to the technical and organizational challenges of digital collections.The Library Digital Initiative was planned to address these issues in a general, sophisticated, and coordinated way.

Many other institutions had established new, separate facilities to develop their digital collections. Harvard's Initiative was consciously constructed on a different model: the integration of digital resources into the existing library structure. While there were many exciting developments happening in the area of electronic information that would be important for the students and scholars of Harvard, the University had existing traditional collections of enormous wealth, and would continue for the foreseeable future to collect significant new materials in traditional formats. Integrated access to the collections, regardless of format, was a key aim of the Library Digital Initiative.

The LDI Web Site

In November 1998, a web site was launched to keep the community apprised of LDI activities. The site was expanded in early 1999 and then re-designed in October of 2000. Harvests of each of the versions of the web site are available through the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org), including these representative harvests:

By 2007, LDI activities were sufficiently integrated into the work of the Library Technology Systems (LTS), so that the main content of the web site was transferred to the LTS web site at http://hul.harvard.edu/ois.