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How to Use
   - Data Mgmt Plan
   - Formats
   - Access
   - Metadata
   - Delivery
AILLA papers


Media and File Formats

We accept materials on virtually any analog medium: audio, video, documents, photographs, etc. Label each object (tape, disk, notebook, photograph) clearly. We recommend that you sort your materials by language/date/genre/speaker (whichever is most salient in your collection) and number each item consecutively. We must be able to relate each item with its metadata record or we can not accession your materials.

Digital media

Audio, video, images: We accept all popular digital formats: wav, mp3, aiff, avi, wmv, qt, mp4, mpeg, jpg, tiff, etc. We strongly recommend that you record in archival formats if possible; however, we can convert almost any audio, video or image file to AILLA's formats.

Texts: We can read diskettes and zip disks, although digital texts produced before 2000 may be difficult to read, especially if they rely on obsolete fonts.

Structured data: Databases, websites, hyperlinked documents, programs. We can not preserve these in the form that you created. For example, we can not maintain your interactive dictionary program in perpetuity. We can archive the essential components: xml and/or html files defining the structure and textual content along with a set of media files. We can preserve tab-separated output from programs such as FilemakerPro and Excel. We can not preserve proprietary formats (eg FilemakerPro) or specific versions of open source programs (eg MySQL). Please include a document explaining the relationships among these component parts, the nature of the original implementation, and any other notes that would enable future users to reproduce your resource using future technologies.

Analog media

We can digitize most analog recording media.

  • Audio recordings: reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, mini-disks, DAT tapes, CDs.
  • Video recordings: VHS tapes, DVDs, mini_DV tapes. We may not be able to extract recordings from some PAL media; contact us before sending videos in this format.
  • Manuscripts: any paper materials: notebooks, articles, boxes of file slips, etc. Please sort loose papers into coherent units -- eg, a set of field notes -- and place each such unit in a separate, labelled folder.
  • Images: photographs, slides, negatives, illustrations, maps.

AILLA's standard formats

Digital archives distinguish three kinds of formats:

  • Archival:best for preservation. Standard; non-proprietary; best possible reproduction of the original.
  • Presentation:easy to download (compressed); easy to use; free readers/players.
  • Working:easy to produce; common software tools; affordable devices.

We will convert your materials to our archival and presentation formats.

  Archival Presentation Working (examples)
audio * wav mp3 cassette tape
video mpeg2 mp4 mini-DV, avi, mov, wmv
image tiff jpg color slide
manuscript tiff pdf notebook
digital text 1** html; xml; txt html; xml; txt Elan; Transcriber
digital text 2 pdf/a pdf/a Word, WordPerfect, PDF
spreadsheet, database xml; pdf/a; tab-separated text pdf/a Excel; Toolbox

* AILLA digitizes analog audio at 44.1 kHz / 24 bits. We recommend a minimum recording standard of 44.1 kHz / 16 bits, which is standard CD quality.

** We prefer text formats for things like transcriptions and translations that can be accessed by non-specialists: plain text or archival PDF (PDF/A). We accept preservable technical formats such as xml, but ask that you provide a document describing your tagging and structural conventions.

As of 2010, files in archival formats (wav, mpg, tiff) are no longer instantly accessible online. Presentation formats should be sufficient for most purposes. It is too expensive to maintain large format files on web-addressable servers. They are now stored off-line, but can be retrieved by request.

Note: As of June 2017, AILLA will accept only the following file format types as we transition to our new (soon-to-be-launched) Islandora Repository:

Media type Allowed file formats
audio .wav, .mp3
video .mpg, .mpeg, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, .avi, .qt, .ogg, .mkv
image .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .tif, .tiff
text & binary .pdf (PDF/A required), .csv, .doc, .eaf, .html, .rtf, .txt, .trs, .xml


Please label everything that you send us clearly and consistently. We must be able to associate resources (recordings, texts, photos, etc) with metadata records or we can not accession your materials. We do not accept any materials without metadata.

For analog deposits:

  1. Sort the materials by some logical criterion: language, year, place, genre, speaker.
  2. Group related things together: eg, tape with recordings + notebook with transcriptions.
  3. Number all the objects in order. Write the label on each object (tape, minidisc, miniDV, notebook, folder, etc).
  4. Make sure that it is obvious that two things go together; eg, that tape 3 goes with notebook III. We do not have enough staff to study your methods and materials. Make it easy for us. Use rubber bands or small boxes to keep related things together.
  5. Use the same labels in your metadata catalog.
  6. We have some forms to help organize and catalog your collection.

Example: Tape 3 has 5 stories recorded on it. Notebooks 3 & 4 contain the transcriptions. Your metadata catalog could look like this:

Item Title Date Speakers Description
3.1 El diablo 7 mayo 1995 Juan Maldonado, Julia Santangelo A story about a man who met...
3.2 Mi viaje 8 mayo 1995 Juan Maldonado Juan takes a trip to...
3.3 El pueblo 8 mayo 1995 Julia Santangelo The history of the town

For digital deposits:

  1. Use folders to maintain your digital materials in good order.
  2. The top level can be language, year, place: whatever makes sense for your project.
  3. The lowest level folder contains a set of related files -- a single resource, such as a recording in both audio and video formats with a transcription file and some photographs.
  4. We recommend the spreadsheet template for metadata for digital collections. Use a separate sheet for each top-level division (language, year, etc)
  5. Use the lowest level folder name as the resource identifier in your metadata.
  6. NOTE: do not create total file names longer than 124 characters (from top to bottom, including all folder names). Long file names can make it difficult for us to transfer your files into our file system.


  • Acateco:
    • 2004:
    • 2005:
      • 060621_San-Cristobal_Alonso (resource identifier)
        • 060621_San-Cristobal_Alonso_pt1.wav
        • 060621_San-Cristobal_Alonso_pt1.mpg
        • 060621_San-Cristobal_Alonso_pt2.wav
        • 060621_San-Cristobal_Alonso_pt2.mpg
        • 060621_San-Cristobal_Alonso.eaf
        • 060621_San-Cristobal_Alonso.jpg
      • 0060625_San-Cristobal_Julia


AILLA is a joint effort of the LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, the Department of Linguistics, and the Digital Library Services Division of the University Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin.
AILLA is also grateful for support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation.
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