The Harvard University Library (HUL) has received a grant of $600,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the development of a registry of authoritative information about digital formats. Detailed information about the format of digital resources is fundamental to their preservation. The two-year project will result in a new Global Digital Format Registry (GDFR), which will become a key international infrastructure component for the digital preservation programs of libraries, archives, and other institutions with the responsibility for keeping digital resources viable over time.

GDFR will be established as a distributed service in which participating research libraries, archives, and other organizations with preservation responsibilities can contribute, as well as use, format-typing information. According to Stephen Abrams, digital library program manager in HUL’s Office for Information Systems, “GDFR will be a sustainable service available to any preservation institution that chooses to participate.”

Major American research libraries are supporting Harvard’s efforts to develop the GDFR. MacKenzie Smith, associate director of technology for Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries, stated, “The establishment of a digital format registry will be a major contribution to our ability to keep digital content viable into the future, and I am grateful that Harvard is willing to take the initiative to build it and coordinate our efforts to use it.” In the words of John Ockerbloom, digital library planner and architect for the University of Pennsylvania Library, “Such a system will aid in digital development and preservation not only at my library, but also at many other institutions worldwide. Having open, globally recognized naming, definitions, and documentation of data formats will greatly improve the abilities of libraries and content-management software to use, adapt, and share a wide variety of digital content.”