Library of Congress format recommendations

The Library of Congress has issued a set of recommendations for formats for both physical and digital documents. The LoC’s digital preservation blog has an interview with Ted Westervelt of the LoC on their development. They’re not just for the library’s own staff, he explains, but for “all stakeholders in the creative process.”

The guidelines repeatedly state: “Files must contain no measures that control access to or use of the digital work (such as digital rights management or encryption).” That’s pushback that can’t be ignored. In some cases, though, the message is mixed. For theatrically released films, standard or recordable Blu-Ray is accepted, but the boilerplate against DRM is included. I don’t know where they expect to get DRM-free Blu-Ray, but DRM-free options are few when it comes to big-name movies.

It’s also interesting that software, specifically games and learning materials, is included. This has been a growing area of interest in recent years. Rather than relying on emulation, the recommendations call for source code, documentation, and a specification of the exact compiler used to build the application.

There’s material here to fuel constructive debate and expansion for years.

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