Minnesota  State Archives

Center for Archival Resources On Legislatures (CAROL)

Foundations: Digital files


Many organizations are moving to non-paper environments for various reasons. This means that organizations need to be thinking about the long-term management of electronic records. Standards for audio and video files and for digitization of files were of specific interest to NDIIPP partners and more information on these topics can be found below.

Digital Files

Audio and Video

As stated above, the choice of formats and standards is constantly changing, and nowhere is this more true than with audio and video file formats.

With increased use of social media, file sharing, and expectations of streaming media (both live and on-demand), the options for providing the 'best' audio and video files have been evolving, and evolving quickly. To complicate the issue in this case, evolution has not been linear; the number of available options have increased, and questions remain as to what format is the 'best' to use.

'Best' is a relative term based on your goals. What might be a good fit for providing access to files online, may not prove to be a suitable format for long-term preservation efforts. Options must be analyzed and decisions must be made.

This white paper, written in May 2009, summarizes various components of digital audio and video files and covers important issues to consider when working with such files.  

Topics address issues of:

  • quality
  • best practices and standards
  • delivery methods
  • preservation
  • storage
  • access

The paper also includes a resource list and a survey of state use of digital audio and video in the legislature.



It is a goal for some organizations to make non-digital records accessible in digital formats. To do this, the files must be digitized. Selecting the file format is one of many decisions that needs to be made.

The linked white paper and resource list (March 2009) are intended to be an introduction to digitization and should familiarize you with the many ideas that should be considered before a digitization project is undertaken. 

Topics covered include:

  • legal requirements
  • cost justification
  • in-house vs. outsourcing processes
  • standard file formats
  • resolution requirements
  • file naming guidelines
  • metadata and indexing
  • storage options
  • preservation strategies
  • disposition of originals
  • developing a long-term program

During the course of the NDIIPP project, the California Legislative Counsel digitized their state statutes dated from 1886-2009. A report summarizing their process and experience will be posted on the Minnesota NDIIPP project page. (Note: This link takes you out of CAROL.)


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February 24, 2012; links verified March 29, 2013.

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