Introduction >> Overview | Formats, Evaluation Factors, and Relationships | Papers and Presentations | Related Resources
Digital formats: a work in progress
The Digital Formats Web site provides information about digital content
formats through detailed format description documents or fdds. An initial offering was placed online in 2004 and expanded
and updated analyses and resources have been added regularly. Digital
formats will continue to evolve in the coming years and this or a successor
site will also evolve to keep pace.
• To support strategic
planning regarding digital content formats, in order to ensure the long-term
preservation of digital content by the Library of Congress, and
• To provide an inventory
of information about current and emerging formats, including the identification
of tools and detailed documentation that are needed to ensure that the Library
of Congress can manage content created or received in these formats through
the content life cycle, and
• To identify and
describe the formats that are promising for long-term sustainability, and develop
strategies for sustaining these formats including recommendations pertaining
to the tools and documentation needed for their management.
• To identify and
describe the formats that are not promising for long-term sustainability, and
develop strategies for sustaining the content they contain.
• The overall analysis
is part of the execution of the Library of Congress Digital strategic plannning goal pertaining to the management and sustenance of digital content.
• This site is devoted
to the analysis of the technical aspects of digital formats. This analysis
will inevitably have implications for policy matters, most significantly collection
• This site is concerned
with the formats associated with media-independent ("intangible") digital content,
i.e., content that is typically managed as files and which is generally not
dependent upon a particular physical medium.
• This site is not
concerned with the formats associated with media-dependent ("tangible") digital
content, i.e., formats that are dependent upon and inextricably linked to physical
media, e.g., DVDs, audio CDs, and videotape formats like DigiBeta.
Typical questions the site will answer
The mature version of this site will help Library staff answer questions like
• If a digital work
is subject to mandatory deposit under U.S. Copyright Law, which of the formats
in which it is available is preferred by the Library?
• When seeking to
acquire a body of digital content with the intention of sustaining it for the
long term, which formats are preferred or acceptable and why?
• Which digital formats
must be fully supported by systems, automated tools, or workflow associated
with the digital content life cycle processes under discussion at the Library,
i.e., support for receiving and validating digital content (in the Get process),
selecting digital content (in the Select process), preparing digital content
for responsible long-term custody (in the Prepare/Assemble process), and establishing
strategies for preservation (in the Sustain process)?
• Given content in
a particular format, does the Library already have a commitment to support content
in this digital format? If so, are there more specific technical requirements
that apply? What associated metadata of a technical nature is essential? Does
LC have an existing workflow process appropriate for receiving and validating
digital content in this format? Or are software tools for format validation
and metadata extraction available for building a workflow process?
• If a particular
digital format is not already categorized as preferred or acceptable for a particular
category or subcategory of material, what information or assistance is available
to develop a recommendation that a format should be supported or that a process
be developed for reformatting to a supported format?
• Formats, Evaluation Factors, and Relationships.
• Digital Format Descriptions as XML.
• Papers and Presentations from this project.
• Related Resources. An annotated list of other resources related to digital formats.
• Specifications for Digital Formats. Sources of freely downloadable specifications.