May 26, 2022

New Article: “Digital Preservation File Format Policies of ARL Member Libraries: An Analysis”

The following article appears in the latest issue of D-Lib Magazine (March/April 2014).


Digital Preservation File Format Policies of ARL Member Libraries: An Analysis


Kyle Rimkus, Thomas Padilla, Tracy Popp and Greer Martin
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


D-Lib Magazine
March/April 2014
Vol. 20, No. 3/4


Whether overseeing institutional repositories, digital library collections, or digital preservation services, repository managers often establish file format policies intended to extend the longevity of collections under their care. While concerted efforts have been made in the library community to encourage common standards, digital preservation policies regularly vary from one digital library service to another. In the interest of gaining a broad view of contemporary digital preservation practice in North American research libraries, this paper presents the findings of a study of file format policies at Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member institutions. It is intended to present the digital preservation community with an assessment of the level of trust currently placed in common file formats in digital library collections and institutional repositories. Beginning with a summary of file format research to date, the authors describe the research methodology they used to collect and analyze data from the file format policies of ARL Library repositories and digital library services. The paper concludes with a presentation and analysis of findings that explore levels of confidence placed in image, text, audio, video, tabular data, software application, presentation, geospatial, and computer program file formats. The data show that file format policies have evolved little beyond the document and image digitization standards of traditional library reformatting programs, and that current approaches to file format policymaking must evolve to meet the challenges of research libraries’ expanding digital repository services.

Direct to Full Text Article

Note: The data from this article can be accessed in three formats (PDF, .csv, and .xlsx) via IDEALS, the University of Illinois institutional repository.

See Also: Complete TOC for D-Lib Magazine (March/April 2014)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.