The Unified Digital Formats Registry (UDFR)
Following the delivery of the Global Digital Format Registry (GDFR) software in August 2008, Harvard University Library held a series of discussions and in-person meetings to get a sense of the current needs of the digital preservation community and to see if we still understood the requirements for a format registry. The top issue that emerged from these discussions was the relationship between PRONOM and the GDFR. While not everyone agreed, many we spoke to believed that the community could not support two format registries. After in-depth discussions with a number of concerned parties it was decided that it would be in the better interests of the community if there were a single shared formats registry.
In order to make progress towards a single shared registry model, a format registry working group was formed in late 2008 with members from the British Library, the California Digital Library, Harvard University Library, the National Archives, the National Library of Australia, the National Library of New Zealand, Portico, and Tessella. This group began to build a community around the idea of a single shared registry and solicited requirements for the registry from the community.
In the spring of 2009 NARA sponsored a meeting attended by the the National Archives, Harvard University and other parties who had been working with NARA on its registry efforts. An agreement was forged to bring together the two registry efforts under a new name - the Unified Digital Formats Registry (UDFR). The registry would support the requirements and use cases of the larger community compiled for GDFR and would be seeded with PRONOM's software and formats database.
The UDFR proposal and 16 month road map is available here [PDF/A-1a]. It calls for the immediate formation of an ad-hoc governing body in anticipation of the transfer of governance to a permanent body six months from now. Pam Armstrong, Manager of the Library and Archives Canada's Digital Repository Services and Standards Office, has agreed to chair the UDFR's interim governing body. In addition to the Library and Archives Canada, the interim group is composed of individuals from the National Archives, Harvard University Library, the British Library, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and NARA.
The plan calls for the establishment of a permanent governing body in November 2009. While specific requirements for membership in the UDFR will be worked out over the coming months, the intention is to make membership in the registry and representation in registry governance open to all institutions interested in and willing to contribute to the effort. In the interim period, we are interested in hearing from individuals or institutions who might want to participate in developing the functional requirements for the first phase of UDFR based on PRONOM. The UDFR road map schedules this activity from June-September 2009. It will build on the requirements gathered by the format registry working group - see http://gdfr.info/wiki/index.php/Activity_3:_Gathering_of_functional_and_non-functional_requirements_for_a_community_format_registry.
Please send any comments and questions about the UDFR to Andrea Goethals at email@example.com