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Recommended Formats Statement: Updates for 2023-2024

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Today’s guest post is from Liz HoldzkomMarcus Nappier, and Kate Murray of the Digital Collections Management & Services Division and Ted Westervelt, Chief, US/Anglo Division at the Library of Congress.


This is the 10th anniversary for the Library of Congress’s Recommended Formats Statement (RFS), and with that milestone some important updates and changes. As a reminder, the RFS supports a structured methodology to assess the viability of digital formats within both a global and institutional context. These efforts are part of the Library’s strategy to collect and engage fully with the breadth of digital creative works.

New for 2023-2024

In the 2023-2024 edition, there are notable changes to a few of the content categories, especially Software and Video Games and Web Archives, as well as some changes in file formats included for Still Image Works and Design and 3D.

Screenshot from the Recommended Formats Statement page of, listing the updated RFS, a change log, and the updated evaluation matrix.
2023-2023 Recommended Formats Statement

Also new this year on the format evaluation matrix is the addition of a focus on options for access through the Library’s systems including support on the Library’s public website, (as well as for Stacks, an onsite-only system for accessing restricted digital content). The outcome of this analytical structure are clearer definitions of ‘Preferred’ and ‘Acceptable’ when categorizing digital file formats in the RFS.

Capture from part of the updated Evaluation Matrix spreadsheet to assess support for access.
Adding support for access options to the evaluation matrix. The formats team developed definitions of support for these systems to better illustrate the system’s display capabilities.

The updated evaluation matrix with sample data is available for download.

Furthermore, we’ve simplified the feedback process to a single point of contact: [email protected]. Comments are still welcome to specific content team leaders but the [email protected] address will route queries to the appropriate parties.

Finally, following the lead of the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI), the RFS will consider the term primary as an acceptable substitute for the term master and that the two convey the same intentions and meanings. Except for where master is part of a format’s formal name (such as in IMF, Interoperable Master Format in Moving Image Works) or an industry standard use (such as gold master file for Software and Video Games), the RFS prefers the term primary. Therefore, in the 2023-2024 edition, all listings for master files are now master/primary files.

A full list of all changes is shared in the Change Log available on the RFS home page.

In addition to the HTML version, the RFS is also available as an accessible PDF. Comments are welcome!


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