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In February 1994 Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Libraries embarked on an ambitious project to convert approximately one million pages of the congressional papers of Pennsylvania Senator John Heinz into digital format.  Innovative image-management and text-retrieval software created at CMU provides the ability to search and retrieve these papers. Named in memory of the late Senator, the Heinz Electronic Library Interactive On-line System (HELIOS) currently allows researchers to browse, search, view, and print over 434,000 digital images from the collection. Accessible through the campus network and the Internet, HELIOS dramatically increases depth of indexing and quality of retrieval beyond that which archiving resources have traditionally allowed. Since January 1998, HELIOS can be accessed on the Internet at .
In order to stimulate the exploration and use of the Heinz papers by a much broader community of users than is expected with a paper-based archive, the University Libraries proposed to digitize the congressional papers. Over one million dollars was donated by the Heinz Family Foundation, Heinz Company Foundation, and the Heinz Endowments to support the establishment of the H. John Heinz III Archives and the digitization project. In addition to the Heinz gift, CMU and the CLARITECH Corporation contributed over $700,000 in resources, including permanent full-time staff salaries, archival equipment, and office rental space for a processing facility. Heinz assistance has made it possible to advance the techniques of digital preservation and access for archival collections.
Our goal has been to develop a digital archive to serve as a model for the archival profession and research community. Traditionally, archives have faced several challenges, including: 1. the creation of good finding aids and indexes for large archival collections; 2. the provision of effective retrieval of information from paper archives in spite of the inherent diversity and size of these unique materials; and 3. the difficulty of offering broad public access to archives since they represent resources that the researcher must visit in order to use effectively.
Public-Access Computer Systems Review, 6-19.