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Long-term Preservation and Archival File Formats: Concepts and solutions

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In this paper we focus on the long-term stability of existing image file formats and possible new standards for archival purposes. It will be shown what significance digital file formats in a digital preservation workflow have and how they affect the success of digital archiving. Besides basic format requirements, like following an open standard and being widely used, we will discuss technical details of existing format definitions and their ability to encapsulate metadata for successful preservation. Based on the well-known Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) we will show in detail what weaknesses exist, that endanger the correct future rendering of the content. As a result a recommendation for an image file format definition for archival needs is proposed, based on the already existing widespread and accepted standard TIFF. The proposed approach follows the concept of a limited subset of a given file format like it is done with the Portable Document Format (PDF) and its archival derivative PDF/A. The approach results in a recommended use of the TIFF baseline specification. We call the optimized application of the existing file format TI/A, Tagged Image for Archives.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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  • The IS&T (digital) Archiving Conference offers a unique opportunity for imaging scientists and those working in the cultural heritage community (curators, archivists, librarians, photographers etc) from around the world to come together to discuss the most pressing issues related to the digital preservation and stewardship of hardcopy, and other cultural heritage documents and objects. Authors come from museums, archives, libraries, government institutions, industry and academia. Cutting edge topics related to multispectral and 3D imaging, as well as best practices for workflow, sharing, standards, and asset/collection management and dissemination are explored in papers presented at this annual, international event.

    Please note: For purposes of its Digital Library content, IS&T defines Open Access as papers that will be downloadable in their entirety for free in pertuity. Copyright restrictions on papers vary; see individual paper for details.

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