PDF/A in Archives and Libraries

Special measures are required for “long-term archiving” of both hardware and software, and PDF/A can fulfill many of the requirements for software and file formats.

For archives and libraries, “long-term archiving” can virtually mean “forever”! Special measure are required for both hardware and software, and PDF/A can fulfill many of the requirements for software and file formats. Archives are typically receivers of documents, and from their point of view it would be optimal when the files they receive are already in PDF/A format. This can be achieved through proper communication and organisation with the suppliers. There are many PDF/A scanning solutions that can applied when existing documents in an archive are to be converted into electronic format. For files that are delivered in other electronic formats, numerous tools are offered for converting to PDF/A. It may also be desired to archive both the original format (e.g. Microsoft Word) as well as a PDF/A version of the document.

Libraries are both receivers and suppliers of documents. When existing files are converted into a new format, the digital original (e.g. uncompressed TIFF or JPEG2000 lossless) may still be retained. PDF/A can be created from the original file and serves as an ideal delivery format, enabling full-text search and supporting embedded metadata. With respect to digital documents, existing or newly delivered books can be converted to PDF/A. PDF/A also can be used for archiving postgraduate work in university libraries, and would itself be an interesting topic for such work. There are an increasing number of recommendations and requirements for PDF/A in archives and libraries, for example with the German National Library.

Overview slides for archives and libraries from our PDF/A Conference

Please do not hesitate to contact our member of the board, Thomas Zellmann with his knowledge about archives and libraries for further information.

Recommendations and Guidelines for PDF/A

The Swedish National Archives estimates PDF/A to be a suitable format for archiving textual documents

The LDP Centre (Centre for Long-term Digital Preservation) recommends PDF/A:

The demands on records, to be in native state and complete for preservation over time, must be taken in concideration when choosing a file format: PDF/A-1 is formed to meet these conditions satisfying for some types of documents. Besides the metadata every document is provided with, it is also possible to apply more metadata to the document. Metadata can help to increase the documents traceability and show its history. There can be information about who constituted the document, when it was done and if any changes has been made to the document or its metadata.

Original information (date: 2010-01-08) on the website of the Luleå University of Technology

University of Potsdam stores documents on their publications server in PDF/A format

The University of Potsdam is aiming to have all documents on their publications server stored in PDF/A format in the future. This is stated in a notification that is published on their website. Users can also finds tips about how to create PDF/A documents from original formats, e.g. Word, or for converting from LaTeX to PDF/A.

File Delivery: German National Library prefers PDF/A

The German National Library prefers PDF/A ahead of all other data formats when content is delivered in digital format. This is stated in the institute’s regulation concerning file formats. “Conventional” PDF comes in second place, followed by HTML. The complete list with further information for submitting documents can be found on the website of the German National Library.

Austrian National Library prefers PDF/A

In their Information for Suppliers and Libraries, the Austrian National Library has stipulated that they prefer to receive files in PDF/A format. This recommendation from the Austrian National Library with respect to the delivery of digital documents in PDF format places additional constraints on the files, and is aimed at ensuring support for the long-term archiving of digital documents. It orients itself on the ISO standard ISO 19005-1:2005 “Document management – Electronic document file format for long-term preservation – Part 1: Use of PDF (PDF/A)“, which is based on Version 1.4 of the PDF format.

Digital Preservation

Animations presented by Digital Preservation Europe:

Digital Preservation and Nuclear Disaster: An Animation
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yun9hkPPF9M[/youtube]

Team Digital Preservation and the Aeroplane Disaster
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbBa6Oam7-w&feature=channel_page[/youtube]

About PDF/A Competence Center

The first of the PDF Association's Competence Centers.

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