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.