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BPE 2007 – File Formats and Preservation

At Best Practices Exchange 2007, there was much talk about appropriate file formats for preservation. I brought this up during my presentation on LOCKSS and there was general agreement about how we need open, non-proprietary formats to have any real chance of doing long-term digital preservation. Some states, including Oregon are converting documents they receive into more open formats like HTML and PDF. Oregon even has an automated tool for doing so, but more about that in another posting.

Glen McAninch of the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives gave a presentation specifically on this topic, called Format Issues in Digital Preservation. His slides will hopefully show up on the schedule page in the next few weeks.

Glen described Florida’s work in providing “risk assessment” information to state agencies about different kinds of file formats. They take several factors into account – open vs. closed, current market share, existence of current conversion tools, etc. After describing Florida’s work, Glen suggested that Kentucky might go down a similar path. It looked useful, but I couldn’t find a link to the Florida document to share with you. There are some snippets from the Florida document in Glen’s presentation, which will hopefully be posted soon.

While not mentioned at the Exchange, two good sources for information about file formats and their link to digital preservation are the PRONOM Registry of file format documentation and the File Formats Blog.

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