From Astrid Verheusen, National Library of the Netherlands

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National Library of the Netherlands, has published a report on possible alternative file formats for storing master images from mass digitisation projects. Uncompressed TIFFs, the KB’s preferred format so far, take up far too much storage capacity to be a viable storage strategy for the long term. The report is available from the KB website.

At the Koninklijke Bibliotheek mass digitisation projects are taking off. In the next four years millions of high resolution RGB master image files will be produced and will have to be (permanently) archived. However, if all projected 40 million images are to be stored as uncompressed TIFFs, the KB will need some 650 TB of storage capacity by 2011. This is quite a capacity challenge, and thus the need arose to develop a new strategy for storage of images.

The project considered whether it would be possible to distinguish between master image files which must be stored for all ‘eternity’ (because the originals decay rapidly and/or digitisation costs are so high that repeating the digitisation process is not a viable solution) and objects which are stored for access. The distinction would allow for a more pragmatic and economic storage policy, whereby projected usage would determine the storage strategy.

The draft of the report was reviewed by a group of selected specialists on digitisation, digital preservation and image science. Their feedback was in incorporated in the final version of the report which is available at: