Library of Congress Digital Formats Website

The Library of Congress Digital Formats Website provides information about digital content formats. The description of formats developed for the site will be coordinated with the Global Registry of Digital Formats. The site's purposes are:

  • To support strategic planning regarding digital content formats, in order to ensure the long-term preservation of digital content by the Library of Congress;
  • 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;
  • 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; and
  • To identify and describe the formats that are not promising for long-term sustainability, and develop strategies for sustaining the content they contain.

The 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 policies. The 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. It 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.

The mature version of the site will help Library staff answer questions such as the following:

  • 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 their 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?
Last reviewed: 
28 February, 2012