Accessibility Information

Users of assistive technologies such as screen readers should use the following link to activate Accessibility Mode before continuing: Learn more and Activate accessibility mode.

Virtual Card Catalog

Solicitation Number: 20120048
Agency: Library of Congress
Office: Contracts Services
Location: Contracts Services
  • Print
Special Notice
Added: Apr 30, 2012 11:58 am
This is a Request for Information (RFI). The U.S. Copyright Office, a department of the Library of Congress, has initiated a project to digitize and make available online the historical records of copyrights dating from 1870 to 1977. The Library expects to issue a future request for proposals the goal of which would be to obtain software to display images of catalog cards via a hierarchical inventory of the catalog drawers. The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to determine the availability of such software in the marketplace either as an existing product or as a potential development effort.


In addition to its legal, regulatory and policy responsibilities, the Copyright Office is an office of public record for copyright registrations and other documents that pertain to copyright. The records are a historically important snapshot of the culture of the United States, primarily relating to copyrightable expression, authorship, and copyright ownership. They refer to works as diverse as books, photographs, musical compositions, sound recordings, motion pictures, software, and more, including works fixed in electronic formats. The pre-1978 records in the Copyright Office reflect approximately 16.4 million original and renewal registrations dating back to 1870, and approximately 350,000 assignments, transfers and terminations of copyright ownership involving 1.7 million titles. These records are open to the public and are used for many different purposes, including copyright-related commerce, such as licensing, and for historical documentation of authors. Records from 1978 to the present are already available online via the Copyright Office website

Virtual Card Catalog Requirement

There are about 49 million cards in the Copyright Card Catalog. The catalog is structured into seven major segments, six are time periods between 1870 and 1977 and the seventh contains the indexes to transfer and assignment documents. Five of the seven segments each have one A to Z filing of cards. The other two segments have subsets each having one A to Z filing of cards.

The long term plan is to capture index terms from the cards using OCR and keyboarding and to build indexes for online searching. This will require significant time and money to achieve. As an interim step, the Copyright Office is considering making the images of the cards in the catalog available online through a hierarchical structure that would mimic the way a researcher would approach and use the physical card catalog. Segments would be made available one at a time. The most likely first segment would be the 1971 to 1977 time period containing approximately 7.7 million card images from one A to Z set of 6,511 drawers. The card images are organized by drawer and the image file names contain the time period, the drawer label, a sequential four digit number starting with 0001, and occasionally an alphabetic suffix when information exists on a verso or there are multiple card images for a single entry.

The following is a general idea of how the virtual card catalog might look and work. A search of the virtual card catalog would probably begin at the top of the hierarchy with the selection of a catalog segment name (e.g., "Registrations 1971 to 1977) perhaps from a drop down list. This would be followed by the entry of a search term (i.e., a name or a title). The software would step down to the next level of the hierarchy within the selected segment and find the "virtual drawer" folder that alphabetically within the segment should contain the term and display that drawer label along with labels for some number of drawers immediately preceding it and some number of drawers immediately following it. The researcher could select any one of the drawers displayed or could return to the initial search screen. For a selected drawer the software might display thumbnails to the left and a full card image to the right as shown in Figure 1 below. The display could allow scrolling through the thumbnails, selection and display of a specific card, and navigation to the next card, the previous card, the beginning of the drawer, the end of the drawer, or to points in the drawer in increments of perhaps two hundred images. The software should support a return to the list of drawers, forward and backward navigation at the drawer level, and return to the initial search screen. This is simply a vision of how the search might look and work and not necessarily a specification. Variations on the hierarchical searching and display might be equally and possibly even more acceptable.


Figure 1


Digitization of the individual cards has begun, producing uncompressed TIFF images in 24 bit color at 300 pixels per inch. For online access, derivative image files would be produced likely in JPEG format in color at 300 ppi. The image files are organized by catalog segment (there are seven major segments) and by drawer label and within a drawer the images have a sequential number sometimes with an alphabetic suffix indicating versos and or multiple card sets for a single entry.

Intellectual Property Rights

The Government shall retain full ownership rights to all deliverables from this RFI or any future contracts involving the Copyright Digitization and Public Access project including all digital versions of Copyright records, all image files, all data and index files, and all project management and status reports. Such rights shall include both tangible and intangible rights including but not limited to copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, and unfair competition. The contractor may claim no rights or legal interest in delivered material including electronic files, their content, or the organization structure of the files or their indexes.

RFI Instructions

Interested vendors or organizations should address the following in their submissions:

1. Describe your product for search and display of images or what you would propose to build to meet the virtual card catalog requirement.
2. What other services would you propose to provide to assist the Library in meeting this requirement?
3. Based on your experience with this type of requirement, describe any potential problems or challenges with building a virtual card catalog.
4. What size and type image files do you recommend to ensure efficient delivery and display via the web?
5. What are your standard quality assurance procedures?
6. What are your standard project management procedures?
7. What are your standard data security procedures?



The records of the Copyright Office referenced in this RFI are public records and may be inspected during regular business hours by interested vendors or organizations in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress in room LM-404. Reader registration is required before access to the records is granted.

Interested parties are requested to provide information on their ability to satisfy any or all of the requirements outlined above.

At a minimum, responses should include company name and address, size of business, point of contact (including telephone number, facsimile number and e-mail address), and a list of contracts within the past three (3) years under which the interested party has performed the same or similar work.

101 Independence Ave SE
Washington, District of Columbia 20540-9411
101 Independence Ave. S.W.
Library of Congress
Washington,, District of Columbia 20540
United States
Sidney Wise,
Contracting Officer
Phone: 202-707-7620