Recommended Format Specifications announced

The Library of Congress announces the availability of its Recommended Format Specifications, a document describing the hierarchies of the physical and technical characteristics of creative formats, both analog and digital, which will best maximize the chances for preservation and continued accessibility of creative content. Creators and publishers have also begun to employ a wide array of intangible digital formats, as well as continuing to change and adapt the physical formats in which they work. The Library needs to be able to identify the formats which are suitable for large-scale acquisition and preservation for long-term access if it is to continue to build its collection and ensure that it lasts into the future.

The Library was able to identify six basic categories of creative output, which represent significant parts of the publishing, information, and media industries, especially those that are rapidly adopting digital production and are central to building the Library’s collections:

  • Textual Works and Musical Compositions
  • Still Image Works
  • Audio Works
  • Moving Image Works
  • Software and Electronic Gaming and Learning
  • Datasets/Databases.

Technical teams, made up of experts came from across the institution bringing specialized knowledge in technical aspects of preservation, ongoing access needs and developments in the marketplace and in the publishing world, were established to identify recommended formats for each of these categories and to establish hierarchies of preference among the formats within them.

The Library will be revisiting these specifications on an annual basis. The creation and publication of these recommended format specifications is not intended to serve as an answer to all the questions raised in preserving and providing long-term access to creative content. They do not provide instructions for receiving this material into repositories, managing that content or undertaking the many ongoing tasks which will be necessary to maintain this content so that it may be used well into the future.

The Recommended Format Specifications are available at http://www.loc.gov/preservation/resources/rfs/. For more information, please contact Ted Westervelt [thwe@loc.gov].