The National Digital Stewardship Alliance Innovation Working Group is honoring NIST for a software archive that has proven highly valuable to digital forensic investigators and is also paying off in other unimagined ways.
The group announced its third annual NDSA Innovation Awards on May 12. The awards committee selected four award recipients from 30 nominees including the NIST National Software Reference Library (NSRL).
NIST's NSRL was selected for "substantial leadership in building a national collection of software, developing and sharing workflows and approaches for software preservation, and for modeling approaches to corpus analysis of born digital collections," according to the award announcement.
In addition to its value in criminal investigations, the NSRL has become a valuable asset to the digital preservation community. Last year NIST and Stanford University Libraries collaborated on a project to expand the NSRL collection and increase its value as a cultural collection including early 1980's era software and video game titles.
Each year the Innovation Working Group solicits nominations for projects, individuals and organizations doing innovative and substantive work in digital preservation. The group recently interviewed Doug White, the NIST NSRL project leader, and posted a write-up about the NSRL in its blog.
The blog relays another unexpected benefit of the NSRL. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration contacted White's team for assistance in tracking a potentially dangerous lot of Botox that had been mixed incorrectly. The FDA had information on which clinics received shipments of the bad lot, but it was locked in a file created with an older version of a popular business software.
The FDA asked if NIST could provide the older version of the software from the NSRL, which it did. The FDA was able to open the file and trace the bad Botox, averting possible deaths.
The 2014 NDSA Innovation Awards will be presented at the upcoming Digital Preservation 2014 which will be held by the Library of Congress, July 22-24 in Washington D.C. The National Digital Stewardship Alliance is a consortium launched by the Library of Congress' National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.