Tag Archives: Archives South

It’s Electronic Records Day: 10.10.16

Do you create documents on your computer?  Your tablet?  Do you write texts and posts on your cell phone?  Then you are creating electronic records.  Think of all the files you create in a week or a year.  Then, imagine how many such documents are created by Wyoming state employees in the same amount of time…  Where are they all kept?  How do we know that we will be able to read and have access to them in the future?  These are the knotty problems that your State Archives staff wrestle with every day.

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We are participating in Electronic Records Day 10.10.16 this year by telling you about how we are solving those problems via the Wyoming Digital Archives, our system for preserving digital files created in the conduct of state business.

Why do electronic records need special attention?

Consider this tongue in cheek answer from the Council of State Archivists, “Managing electronic records is like caring for a perpetual toddler: they need regular attention and care…”

On a more serious note, they add,

With the increasing reliance on information technology, the challenge to manage, preserve, and provide access to digital records and information continues to grow. Action must to taken to ensure future access to electronic records.

Paper records stored in good conditions can be read centuries afterwards. Typical electronic file formats have a life span measured in decades at best.

Rapidly changing software and hardware environments can leave electronic records virtually inaccessible after just a few years if not monitored.

Electronic records require proactive management. The best time to plan for electronic records preservation is at the time records are created, rather than when software is being replaced or a project is ending.

State Archivist, Mike Strom, says he is most happy that the Wyoming Digital Archives shows how the state of Wyoming is involved in e-records in a substantial way.   He says it is good to work with agencies to manage records so that they’re kept the right amount of time, according to our records retention schedules.

The State Archives is already working with fourteen state agencies that are entering their records into the Digital Archives – which contains over 300,000 individual records so far.

Strom’s goals for the future include seeing that all state agencies are engaged in some way with this project.  A broader goal is ensuring the long-term preservation and accessibility of all of the state’s records regardless of their format.

Can the public see these records, too?  Yes, the Digital Archives has a public access feature so that records which you might be able to see by contacting a state agency (like incorporation or other state reports) will be accessible through a portal on the State Archives’ web page or by a link to that portal from the state agency’s website.

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The State Archives operates a Records Center which has rows and rows of boxes, shelved fourteen levels high and served by staff with forklifts.  The Wyoming Digital Archives will soon house the same amount of records, but we won’t need a forklift to find the right box or file.  We will use online searching to find the information that agencies need to conduct their business – and that you, the public, need to find a court file or school transcript, write a research paper, or dig into your family history.

Still wondering what to do with your own personal digital files?  Here are some great tips from COSA. We also hope you join the staff of the State Archives this Thursday, October 13th as we present  recommendations on how best to store and preserve all types of family records, including electronic records.

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Where Does It All Come From?

We have a LOT of records here at the Archives. And I mean a LOT!

Looking down the main aisle of Archives South, our off-site storage building. The bound volumes are county clerk record books from across the state.

Looking down the main aisle of Archives South, our off-site storage building. The bound volumes are county clerk record books from across the state.

All told, we have roughly 84,000 cubic feet of material between the Archives (permanent records) and State Records Center (semi-permanent records), and that number is growing all the time.

The wall of boxes on the main aisle of the State Records Center. Each of those boxes is considered 1 cubic foot. And they are stacked 2 deep on the shelves!

The wall of boxes on the main aisle of the State Records Center. Each of those boxes is considered 1 cubic foot. And they are stacked 2 deep on the shelves!

So where do the records come from? The quick answer is from everywhere.

The vast majority of records are transferred to us from state and county offices. These are records that have been designated as semi-permanent or permanent records and are no longer in regular use by the departments who created them. In many cases, the agencies do not have the space to store the records, nor the staff to provide adequate access them. That is where we come in. The Archives centralizes the storage and reference access to these little used but still vital records, freeing space and staff time for the creating agencies.

While some agencies are able to bring their boxes to us, others rely on our annual transfer trips. Every summer we send out two staff members in a truck for 3-4 days travel in one of three regions to pick up records. This year, we picked up nearly 400 cubic feet!

Records Analyst Lisa Hasting, in red, stacks boxes in the truck during a transfer trip stop in Casper this June.

Records Analyst Lisa Hasting, in red, stacks boxes in the truck during a transfer trip stop in Casper this June.

The rest of our collection has come to us by generous donation from the public. These are non-governmental records, like photographs, manuscripts, family, business and club papers. We are always excited to see what treasures folks have found and brought in.

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Boxes, Boxes Everywhere…

One of the most asked questions by researchers visiting our Reading Room is “Where do you store all of your records?” The true archival enthusiast usually follows that question with “Can I see?” In the spirit of these inquiries, here is an illustrated overview of our storage areas.

Barrett Building Exterior, oblique showing windows and entry 10-1-2013

Two of our storage areas are located on-site at the Barrett Building.

We currently house around 84,000 cubic feet of records in the Archives and State Records Center. The boxes and volumes are stored in one of three storage areas, two within our building and one in a building on the other side of town.

Rolling shelving saves space in the Records Room.

Rolling shelving saves space in the Records Room.

The first of the storage areas in the building is directly off the Reading Room and is fondly called the Records Room. Because of its convenient location, this is where we store the records that are requested most often and those that require the most regulated environment. These records include high school transcripts, governor’s records, Secretary of State corporation files, school district censuses, early Board of Charities and Reform inmate files and mug shots, and all of our non-government collections. Our photograph files, historic maps, oral history collection and historical library of books related to Wyoming history are also found here.

One drawer of many that hold rolls of security microfilm.

One drawer of many that hold rolls of security microfilm.

The second on-site storage area is not quite as convenient, but it still offers a very stable environment. While we call it the Microfilm Vault, it is more of a storeroom than a true vault. Here, we keep the security copies of our microfilm (we can use these to create high quality duplicates for research as needed). Our photograph collection negatives and over-sized prints also live here.

Looking down main aisle  of shelving at Archives South. The State Records Center is on the other side of the long wall to the right and looks very similar.

Looking down main aisle of shelving at Archives South. The State Records Center is on the other side of the long wall to the right and looks very similar.

Archives South/State Records Center, our off-site facility, houses the majority of our holdings.  The State Records Center provides state and local offices with a safe, secure and efficient off-site storage for their semi-permanent records. Semi-permanent records are those that are no longer needed for daily business, but must be kept for a specified period of time before they are destroyed. Archives South stores permanent records that are not used as frequently as those on-site. Court case files, original county clerk record books, commercial and residential building plans, and nearly all of the state agency records are stored here.

(While we cannot always indulge the spontaneous request, we do try to schedule tours of our facilities for the curious. Please contact us if you are interested in scheduling a tour for your group.)

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Filed under Archives Month 2013