Just in time for American Archives Month in October and Electronic Records Day (October 8), the Wyoming Digital Archives has exceeded 5 million documents uploaded! This milestone comes less than 2 years after the 1 millionth document was added in February 2020.
In 2010, the Wyoming State Archives (WSA) and Wyoming Legislature began the search for a solution to the expense of physical storage, need to increase accessibility and searchability of records, and to aid in managing records with a keen eye to laws, regulations, and best practices, while maintaining the validity and authenticity of electronic records. This journey led the archives and legislature to create the Wyoming Digital Archives to preserve and manage born digital and digitized records that tell the story of Wyoming’s government and its people.
The WSA added its first document to digital archives in November 2013. Since then, it has grown exponentially.
As of June 2021, the digital archives includes 189 users. And hosts records from 19 different counties. The records originate from three City Clerks offices, 12 County Clerks offices, one School District, and three County Treasurers. The most recent partner to the digital archives is the City of Meeteetse, Wyoming.
The Digital Archives success can be attributed to its ability to meet archival best practices, the support of the archives staff, and ease of use. The Digital Archive is able to preserve and make accessible files in a multitude of formats. In fact, the digital archives include audio visual materials, PDFs, JPEGs, and many other formats. The typical types of records found in the archives are plats, minutes, land and motor vehicle records, city ordinances, zoning records, and licensing board files, to name a few.
The Digital Archives is built on the premise of LOCKSS (Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) with an emphasis on security. The files are backed up daily, weekly, and monthly. There are multiple copies with at least one stored in a geographically diverse location in case of natural disasters. This allows the Archives to quickly recover from any potential data loss. The 99 levels of security controls and privileges are especially important to maintaining the confidentiality of restricted records such as birth certificates or hospital records preserved in the system.
The digital archives also includes the ability to set up notifications and semi-automate the process of records retention, making it a popular choice for many users. Records can be coded so that they align with the records retention schedules approved by Wyoming State Records Committee. These retention schedules help guide decisions on how long documents are kept and what happens to them after that. The Wyoming Digital Archives can handle both permanent and non-permanent records This allows administrators to more easily track the amount of time a record should be kept and when it should be destroyed. This natural destruction cycle for short term records is important for risk management and allows more space and resources to be devoted to the preservation of permanent records.
As technology continues to advance, the way society interacts with information evolves. For this reason, the archives profession must continue to adapt. “The WSA continues to tackle key issues relating to preserving significant documents,” says State Archivist Sara Davis. “We provide guidance for the management of government records at all levels and educate our community about the volatility of digital files. We offer the digital archives as a solution to mitigate risk of data loss. Into the future, we strive to continue to meet the needs of our community through use of the Wyoming Digital Archives as well as traditional archival methods such as storage recommendations for physical and digital materials and ways to make materials accessible. We also eagerly anticipate seeing/celebrating the 10 millionth document uploaded in the near future.”
American Archives Month is an annual collaborative effort by professional organizations and repositories around the nation to highlight the importance of records of enduring value. Archivists are professionals who assess, collect, organize, preserve, maintain control of, and provide access to information that has lasting value. They also help people find and understand the information they need in those records.