Tag Archives: digital records

Wyoming Digital Archives Adds One Millionth Digital Document

The Wyoming State Archives is delighted to announce that we have accepted the one millionth document into our Digital Archives!  We are celebrating the exponential growth of this secure storage method for the state’s valuable records.

In 2013, the Wyoming State Archives began working in collaboration with the state’s Enterprise Technology Services experts on the best solution for safely and securely housing the state’s digital public records.  We found the solution in the Wyoming Digital Archives, a military-grade storage database for public records, the documents that reflect the work of Wyoming’s government. This includes both permanent records and other documents with long-term value, which were either “born digital” (not created on paper) or digitized. 

To date, the Digital Archives boasts one hundred licensed security levels, allowing customized access for a variety of users, from the Governor to staff in government offices across Wyoming at the state and local level. At a nominal cost, it provides agencies a way to preserve and manage their electronic records in much the same way the State Records Center and State Archives preserve and manage paper records.

Documents added to the Digital Archives are available to the agency’s staff using a web interface with keyword search ability, drastically decreasing the time needed to access older records. Access restrictions can be set by agencies to protect confidential documents and information as needed and to document changes made to the files. The system also includes a page where anyone can search for publicly accessible documents.

  “It took us over four years to add the first half a million documents, but only two years to make it a million.  The Wyoming State Archives appreciates the opportunity to make public employees’ lives easier and put the information they need securely at their fingertips when they need it!” says Kathy Marquis, Wyoming State Archivist. 

Wyoming Digital Archives by the numbers:

  • 7 years
  • 1,000,000 records
  • 190 individual users in:
  • 19 state agencies
  • 12 county offices
  • 1 municipal office (Sundance, coming soon!)
  • 1st documents added by the Secretary of State
  • 1,000,000th document added by the Department of Environmental Quality Air Division

For further information, check out our website at wyoarchives.wyo.gov; or contact Kathy Marquis, State Archivist at the Wyoming State Archives, 2301 Central Ave, Cheyenne WY 82002.  You can also call 307-777-8691 or message her at Kathy.marquis@wyo.gov.

 

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1010: Electronic Records Day 2019

Electronic Records Day 2019 logo

We are happy to be joining our colleagues around the country to celebrate another Electronic Records Day! 

What is a born digital record?

Simply put, something is “born digital” if it was created on a computer, not as a physical format. It could be printed out, but most likely it will never exist as a hard copy. Born digital content is different from content that has been digitized. Examples of born digital content include word processing documents, spreadsheets, emails, and original images produced with digital cameras.

Why are we discussing born digital content?

Born digital content is the future of records management and the future of archives as well. According to research done by the New York State Archives 90% of today’s records are created electronically (born digital) and 70% of paper records were also created electronically and printed out. 

With this in mind, archivists and records managers across must make plans to address these record formats, including word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, databases, scanned images, email and attachments, presentations, photos, websites, social media, audio recordings, videos, electronic publications, Geographic Information System (GIS), Computer Aided Design (CAD) and more.

How do records managers and archivists preserve these born digital records created by these varying media systems? 

The same way we preserve paper documents: with care and knowledge of the medium. One of the challenges found in preserving born digital records is how quickly new technologies are born — and die. These born digital records must be monitored. Documents may need to be migrated to new equipment and/or file formats, or they risk becoming inaccessible, unreadable, or obsolete and lost to the world.

Other challenges archivists and records managers are facing in the struggle to preserve born digital records.

Digital record loss posterStorage — It may take up less physical space, but digital space is not free! It costs money to store such vast quantities of data on servers, just as it costs money to store paper records now. 

Continuous Changes — Some applications require constant updating and changing, like websites, social media and GIS. How then do we keep up with media that are almost always in flux? The Wyoming State Archives (WSA) does have a strategy for capturing state websites.

The WSA is partnering with the Internet Archive’s Archive-It Program to selectively capture, preserve, and make accessible websites created by Wyoming’s state agencies and officials. The Archive-It Program allows the capture of relevant web content and ensures its long-term access through the Internet Archive’s website. The Archive-It Program selectively crawls either web domains or individual web pages, taking a snapshot of the page, and storing a copy in the Internet Archive. The web page is then made publicly accessible on the Archive-It partner page. The web content collected reflects the administrative functions of Wyoming state government.

Bit Rot — Digital data is susceptible to loss, called “bit rot”. Much like the deterioration of paper or photographs, this loss degrades the quality of files and images, sometimes to the point that they are no longer readable.

How does the WSA manage born digital records?

Our archivists work with state agencies and county governments to help them maintain and preserve records, both paper and born digital. The born digital records include state websites, word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, reports and a plethora of other documentation. These documents and more can be found within the Wyoming State Digital Archives. The State’s emails and attachments are maintained by ETS (Enterprise Technology Service) the State’s IT department,  not by the WSA.

The process to incorporate born digital records for state agencies is simple. As long as the various state agencies follow their records retention schedules then they will know when to either pass the records onto the WSA or to get rid of the records. Agencies can also transfer inactive records to the Digital Archives first and then our records managers delete them when their retention period is up. Born digital records also come to us in all forms: floppy discs, CDs, via email, on servers, hard drives, USB drives, etc. When sending in born digital records our preferred formats are:

  • Image: jpeg, jpeg-2000, tiff
  • Text: txt, html, xml, PDF/A, Open Office XML
  • Audio: afif, wav
  • Video: mp4, avi
  • Databases: xml or convert to csv

Governor Gordon’s Office and Digital Records

Governor Mark Gordon’s office understands the challenges of born digital records. The Office of the Governor has reached out to the WSA for tips on how to manage and preserve the records being created every day in the course of the Governor’s work for Wyoming. Soon, the Governor’s staff may begin uploading digital files into the Wyoming Digital Archives for preservation – right from their own computers to the WSA.

Looking to the Future

Born digital records are the future of records and archives. This means records managers and archivists must plan and act now to ensure these records are properly cared for and accessible to future generations.

The Federal Government has mandated that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) cease accepting paper records from the various Federal Agencies after December 31, 2022. While the State of Wyoming has not officially made this leap, that day will come. And the work we and other stakeholders do today will ensure that the Wyoming State Archives will be ready when it does.


Additional Resources

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Happy Electronic Records Day!

What is so special about 10/10? Well it looks a lot like 1010 (or 10 in binary). But mostly its special because today is Electronic Records Day!

electronic records logo_2015_native

On the off chance you hadn’t noticed, our world is becoming increasingly more digital, and this includes the records and documents we all create in the course of our day.

As we lead more of our lives online, rather than on paper, the historical record itself is seeing a shift in format. Stacks of personal letters are giving way to emails, texts and tweets. Boxes of negatives and prints are transforming into stacks of CD, SD cards, external drives, and seemingly endless folders of digital photos on our computers, phones and in our “clouds”. Tax records, bank statements, school report cards, and even utility bills are all available online now as companies push cost- and clutter-saving “paperless” programs.

But regardless of format, the question remains: what do you keep, for how long and how do you ensure its survival. The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) and archives around the country are joining together to raise awareness of the importance of caring for your digital records.

As with your traditional paper documents, not all digital records are worth their bytes. And just because you can find it using a search bar does not mean that it is easily accessible. Would your family know where to start looking for the important stuff or would they have to wade through TBs of junk? This also means that the “historical” records of to day will most likely take up more bytes than shelf space, so the more we learn now about proper electronic records management, the better prepared we will all be to care for this brave new world of historical documents.

Learn more about personal electronic records management at:

 

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1010 = Electronic Records Day!

10 reasons for e-records 2013

Today, October 1010th (that is 10 in binary code), has been designated Electronic Records Day 2013 by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) to raise awareness of digital records and the need to manage and preserve them.  What is so special about digital records? Let us count the ways…

10 Reasons Why 

Electronic Records Need Special Attention

1. Managing electronic records is like caring for a perpetual toddler: they need regular attention and care in order to remain accessible.

2. Electronic records can become unreadable very quickly. While records on paper can sometimes be read after thousands of years, digital files can be virtually inaccessible after just a few.

3. Scanning paper records is not the end of the preservation process: it is the beginning. Careful planning for ongoing management expenses must be involved as well.

4. There are no permanent storage media. Hard drives, CDs, Magnetic tape or any other storage formats will need to be tested and replaced on a regular schedule. Proactive management is required to avoid catastrophic loss of records.

5. The lack of a “physical” presence can make it very easy to lose track of electronic records. Special care must be taken to ensure they remain in controlled custody and do not get lost in masses of other data.

6. Shared documents can be hard to authenticate. It is easy to create copies of electronic records and share them with others, but this can raise concerns about the authenticity of those records. Extra security precautions are needed to ensure e-records are not altered inappropriately.

7. The best time to plan for electronic records preservation is when they are created. Don’t wait until software is being replaced or a project is ending to think about how records are going to be preserved.

8. No one system you buy will solve all your e-records problems. Despite what vendors say, there’s no magic bullet that will manage and preserve your e-records for you.

9. Well managed electronic records can help ensure the rights of the public through greater accessibility than ever before. This can only happen if creators, managers and users all recognize their importance and contribute resources to their preservation.

10. While they may seem commonplace now, electronic records will form the backbone of the historical record for researchers of the future. 

Remember, archivists and records managers are here to help you tackle these difficult problems. Contact us here at the Archives if you have questions or would like to learn more about our current digital repository project.  Through this project, we hope to ensure that electronic records created today by Wyoming State government offices remain accessible for generations to come!

(Thank you to CoSA for this top 10 list and for sponsoring 2013 Digital Records Day)

P.S. Wondering how digital records are important to the individual and how to mitigate risks to your personal files? Check out this great video from the Library of Congress.

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