Library of Congress Recommended Format Specifications
Recommended Format Specifications are hierarchies of the physical and technical characteristics of creative formats, both analog and digital, which will best meet the needs of all concerned, maximizing the chances for survival and continued accessibility of creative content well into the future.
Recommended Format Specifications [PDF: 660 KB, 17 pp.]
Additional Information and Library Contacts and Links
What is the purpose of the Library of Congress Recommended Format Specifications?
There are two primary purposes of the specifications. One purpose of the specifications is to provide internal guidance within the Library to help inform acquisitions of collections materials (other than materials received through the Copyright Office). A second purpose is to inform the creative and library communities on best practices for ensuring the preservation of, and long-term access to, the creative output of the nation and the world.
How do the Format Specifications further the Library’s mission?
The Library’s mission is “to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.” One of the Library’s fundamental activities in furthering its mission is to build a vast collection of content and to grow it aggressively, for the benefit of the American people today and for generations to come. To build such an amazing collection and to ensure that it will be available for successive generations requires that the Library identify and acquire those formats which are suitable for large-scale acquisition and preservation for long-term access.
How did the Library identify the formats to include in the Format Specifications?
The Library called upon in-house subject matter specialists with knowledge of the creative and publishing landscape and marketplace to identify six broad categories of creative output, and particular format specifications for each category. These six categories are:
- Textual Works and Musical Compositions
- Still Image Works
- Audio Works
- Moving Image Works
- Software and Electronic Gaming and Learning
Within each of these broad categories, there are further subdivisions, down to specific recommendations on various aspects of print books, digital photographs, motion picture films, and electronic datasets, for example.
Will the Format Specifications change?
Because of the dynamic, ever-changing nature and availability of formats, the Library plans to revisit the specifications annually. Reviewing the specifications annually will permit the Library to keep pace with developments in the creative world, so that changes to the Format Specifications, although made frequently, can be made in small increments. Input and feedback are greatly encouraged and welcomed.