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Press Release
December 6, 2010

National Archives Contributes to Improved Digital Records Preservation and Access System

Washington, DC…The National Archives has contributed to the update of a groundbreaking system —made available online today– that supports long-term preservation of and access to electronic records. The “new and improved” version of this “PRONOM” system was developed in partnership with the National Archives of the United Kingdom and the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

PRONOM is a web-based public technical registry of more than 750 different digital file formats that enables digital archivists, records managers and the public to precisely identify and confirm digital file formats. This identification is the first step to ensuring long-term electronic file preservation by enabling the identification of those file formats that are in danger of becoming obsolete.

First developed by the National Archives of the United Kingdom in 2002, PRONOM was launched to the public as a free online service in 2004. Shortly after this launch, the US National Archives joined with the British Archives on this project and shared promising new developments from research conducted for the National Archives Electronic Records Archives – now known as the National Archives Center for Advanced Systems and Technologies (NCAST).

Technology from the National Archives contributed to a 25% increase in the number of entries in the PRONOM database, greatly enhancing PRONOM’s range. "The National Archives is proud to share these technologies and contribute to PRONOM. Providing sustained access to valuable digital information is essential to preserving both our nation’s records, and valuable digital assets worldwide" said NCAST Director, Kenneth Thibodeau. “The electronic records of the U.S. Government must be preserved for future generations, just as traditional paper and parchment records were preserved for us.”

The National Archives of the United Kingdom Director of Technology David Thomas praised the National Archives contributions to the project as having “significantly improved the PRONOM database and they will be of enormous benefit to the wider digital preservation community.”

PRONOM is now being used by archives worldwide to manage electronic records, including The National Archives of Estonia, Finland, Austria and Switzerland. Learn more at PRONOM [http://tiny.cc/PRONOM].

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.

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