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Harvard University Library Notes / November 2006 / No. 1334
Harvard Joins Forces with OCLC to Advance the Global Digital Format Registry
Collaborative agreement for the Global Digital Format Registry will serve digital preservation programs of libraries, archives, and other institutions
The Harvard University Library (HUL) and the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) have entered into a collaborative agreement to complete the development of a Global Digital Format Registry, or GDFR, that will serve digital preservation programs of libraries, archives, and other institutions responsible for keeping digital resources viable over time. The wide diversity and rapid pace of adoption and abandonment of digital formats present an ongoing problem for long-term preservation efforts. GDFR, which is expected to be launched early in 2008, will be a distributed service in which participating research libraries, archives, and other organizations —all of which have long-term preservation responsibilities—can contribute and use vital "format- typing" information.
The two-year GDFR project is supported by a grant to the Harvard University Library from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the development of a registry of authoritative information about digital formats. Because GDFR will be made available under an Open Source license, it must reflect the highest levels of quality with regard to function, performance, extensibility, and document. GDFR will rely on Harvard's considerable expertise in digital preservation—largely acquired through the Library Digital Initiative—and OCLC's national role as a leading provider of products and services that help libraries adapt to a rapidly changing technology environment.
"OCLC is eager to work with Harvard University Library on such a critically important project," said Mike Teets, OCLC vice president for global product architecture. "OCLC is involved in a variety of digital preservation efforts on behalf of the library community. This collaborative work will ensure that invaluable materials that help define culture and promote scholarship can be preserved and will be accessible for generations to come."
According to Dale Flecker, associate director of the Harvard University Library for systems and planning and the principal investigator for the GDFR project, "Harvard and OCLC are ideal collaborators for the GDFR. OCLC's developers will rely on a dynamic systems development method that includes extensive protopying, iterative and incremental development, and continual testing. While OCLC is taking line responsibility for the technical development of GDFR, Harvard's role is to guide GDFR's development through a complex and thoughtful review process involving digital preservation specialists from around the world."
Harvard launched this international review process on November 6 and 7, when the University convened a technical working group for GDFR whose membership includes:
For current information and updates on GDFR, visit the project web site at http://www.formatregistry.org.