Digital Destiny
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Digital Destiny



Presentation on electronic records management and archival issues. Originally presented at the Fall 2008 meeting of the Southeastern Wisconsin Archivists Group

Presentation on electronic records management and archival issues. Originally presented at the Fall 2008 meeting of the Southeastern Wisconsin Archivists Group



Total Views
Views on SlideShare
Embed Views



1 Embed 60 60



Upload Details

Uploaded via as Microsoft PowerPoint

Usage Rights

© All Rights Reserved

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
Post Comment
Edit your comment

Digital Destiny Digital Destiny Presentation Transcript

  • Brad Houston University Records Archivist University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    • More records created since 1945 than during the 3000 years before that
    • 90% of all of these new records are born-digital
    • Electronic records are ephemeral!
    • Electronic records are intangible!
    • Electronic records are decentralized! (multiple creators)
    • Result: massive challenges for institutional archivists
    • Give detailed instructions on setting up an electronic records program at your institution
    • Endorse or explain specific Records Management Applications (RMAs)
    • Tell you that your electronic records management system is WRONG
    • Pretend to be the last word on electronic records
    • Provide an overview of electronic records challenges
    • Examine how the “functions” of archival practice (appraisal, processing, access, etc.) change in light of electronic records
    • Provide some (not all) vital characteristics to look for in archival e-recs systems
    • Allow for lots of discussion and feedback at the end
    • UWM Archival Collection 200: University Communications and Media Relations
      • Mixed media (mostly photographs), including digital photos
      • First ‘born-digital’ accession of material in UWM Archives
      • Processed Spring 2008 by UWM SOIS fieldworker
      • Mistakes were made by professional staff: here’s how to avoid them!
    • Data or information that has been captured and fixed for storage and manipulation in an automated system and that requires the use of the system to render it intelligible by a person. ( Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology)
    • “ Strictly speaking, it is not possible to preserve an electronic record…” ( Luciana Duranti)
    • Digitized: records scanned into the system for access or preservation purposes
      • “ Behaves” like analog records– usually discrete, usually separable for RM purposes
    • Born Digital: records created ‘on-line’ for electronic use, disposition
      • Often linked to other records (e.g. in a relational database), making it hard to separate/schedule
    • Requires unique identity of records
      • Dates made, transmitted, received, filed
      • Names of authors, addressee, recipient, creators
    • Requires provable integrity of records
      • Name of handling office
      • Name of records custodian
      • Indication of annotations, modification actions
      • Indication of technical modifications
    • Message : Is the content of the document adequately preserved?
    • Media : Is the storage medium durable enough to retain its integrity over time?
    • Metadata : Is there enough supplementary info to contextualize and prove authenticity of the document?
    • If you lose even one of these components of an electronic record, you have not adequately preserved it .
    • Make sure your records management program is up to date!
      • Records Schedules!
      • Electronic Document Management!
      • Electronic Records Management!
        • Note: EDMS and ERMS are NOT the same!
      • Training, Workshops, Outreach!
        • Fundamental message: E-recs are records too!
    • Includes rules which govern:
      • Which documents are eligible for inclusion
      • Who inputs/removes records (“trusted custodian”)
      • How long records remain (Classification system)
      • How to remove expired records (retention scheduling)
    • Key function: guaranteeing ongoing authenticity of records
    • DoD 5015.2: U.S. standard for TRSs
    • Electronic records are tricky to deal with without RM, but by no means impossible
      • Coordinate metadata collection/transfer procedures with organization records manager
      • Work with targeted creators directly to encourage file organization
      • Talk to your IT dept., administration about RM utility, functional requirements
    • Received directly from Univ. Communications and media relations; maintained case file
      • Chain of custody, context of digital photos
    • Submitted on CD-Rs along with analog photos
      • Immutability of format suggests authenticity
    • Problem: no trusted recordkeeping system at UWM
      • Authenticity is presumed, but not demonstrated
    • None active yet, but we’re working on it…
    • UWM uses Xythos for shared file storage
      • EDMS capabilities should be enabled within year
      • ERMS capabilities are DoD 5015.2 compliant, but have not been discussed in detail yet
    • Importance of “getting in on the ground floor”
      • Talk to your IT dept. about TRS requirements!
    • Knowledge
      • Information Ecosystem
      • Information Studies
      • Documentary Forms in the Digital Environment
    • Skills
      • Management Skills
      • Technical Skills
      • Soft Skills
    • How to survey mass quantities of e-records?
    • How to appraise series of interrelated e-recs?
    • How to prepare records for accession?
    • “ Post-custodial era?”
    • Increased role of questionnaires/surveys
    • Przyblya and Huth: we should become partners and students of creators and IT staff
    • Swain: Appraise at series level, NOT item or folder level
    • Key point: understand how systems work to document transactions– appraisal follows naturally
    • Moving records from recordkeeping to preservation system
    • Based on work Wilczek and Glick did at Tufts and Yale
    • Involves creation of SIPs (Submission Information Packages) and AIPs (Archival Information Packages)
      • Content information
      • Preservation Description Information
    • Establish relationship, define project, collect information
      • Creation of XML schema for records
    • Assess value, record types, formats, identification, copyright, access rights
      • Create or modify policies for each of above
    • Assess recordkeeping system
    • Assess feasibility of submission project
    • Finalize submission agreement
    • Create and Transfer Submission Info Packs
      • Includes: metadata, digital signatures, transformation audit trail
    • Validate SIPs and transform metadata
    • Formulate Archival Info Packs and create configuration rules
    • Assess AIPs
    • Formally accession
    • Photos were transferred in 2006, so preliminary appraisal did not occur
    • Photos were grouped within CD-R by subject
      • Within directories, often many shots of same event from different angles, different lighting, etc.
    • Fieldworker grouped photographs within subject by event pictured, then sampled
    • Lessons learned: encourage better use of metadata by producers
    • Do traditional arrangement schemes apply?
      • What constitutes an electronic “series”?
    • Is “folder-level description” meaningful?
    • Is “item-level description” practical?
      • Search engine technology?
    • File name issues?
    • File Format issues?
    • What do we do with this metadata?
    • In some cases, directories=folders
      • Item-level description possible for small collections; directory-level will be more common
    • In other cases, entire database must be described and made available
      • Access to Archival Databases (NARA)
    • Post-Custodial effect: encourage standardization among active users
      • File naming, directory structure
    • Digital photos were treated the same as analog photos in description
    • Directory structure was already present for arrangement; file names inconsistent
      • Less of a problem because of thumbnails
    • Arranged digital photos as separate series because of access issues
    • Very ad hoc process– should institute policy for next processing project
    • Problems with hardware and software obsolescence
    • Problems with file format obsolescence
    • Physical storage necessities
      • Of the three, probably the least pressing problem
    • “ There is a much greater assurance that 20 or 30 years from now , you’ll be able to find records from the Civil War than you will from anything that’s going on today. “—Amy Moran
    • Can you still read these?
    • Migration: Moving files to new systems on periodic basis
    • Emulation: creating programs to read original datastreams
      • CAMiLEON project, Univ. of Michigan
    • Encapsulation: providing a framework to read files within a discrete XML ‘wrapper’
      • The best solution, but also the most difficult
    • Why reformat?
    • The usefulness (or not) of standards
    • Are native formats viable? “It depends” (h/t Susan Davis)
    • A good stopgap solution, but should not replace creation of preservation system
    • Consider usability of new format
    • XML is ideal, but again requires most work
    • Formats for textual records
      • Text File (UNICODE encoding)
      • Open Document Format (ODF)
      • PDF and PDF/A
    • Formats for image records
      • TIFF
      • JPEG 2000
    • Formats for other A/V records
      • AAF (Advanced Authoring Format)
    • After sampling, photos for preservation were converted to TIFF
    • TIFF preservation files currently stored on UWM Archives Dept. Server
      • Probably not the best solution, but acceptable
    • Copies were made and converted to JPEG for access copy
      • Numerous mass-converters on market to do this quickly
    • How will your users discover the files?
      • Finding Aid as normal?
      • Digital collection page?
    • How will your users get to the files?
      • Web access vs. In-house access
      • Direct access vs. access copies
    • How will e-recs access reorient your reference process?
    • “ Reading-room only access to digital content is not the desired or expected access.”—Tim Pyatt
      • Feasibility considerations of online access
    • Access copies  Greater usability
      • Short term: faster load time, familiar interface
      • Long term: use as a backup if data is lost
    • Reference will shift from searching-oriented to research-oriented questions
    • Finding aid notes in Use Restrictions field that access copies are available
    • Patrons are referred to CD on which access copy is found to view photos
      • CD is for reading room use only
    • Volume of photos  No web access… yet
      • May add some to our Digital Collections in future
    • We treat these as analog for access– may not be as useful down the road
    • Coordinate with your records management program before even THINKING archives
    • Encourage donors/creators to practice good arrangement processes with active files
    • Work with administration, IT dept. EARLY to develop requirements for recordkeeping
    • Use producers’ knowledge of file schemes to inform appraisal decisions
    • Develop policies to standardize process, add authority to solicitation
    • Consider digital preservation environment (Emulation? Migration? Transformation?)
    • Rethink concept of archival series– not necessarily analogous, esp. for born-digital!
    • Outreach, Outreach, Outreach!
      • Did I mention outreach?
    • InterPARES project
    • Open Archival Information System Reference Guide
    • CAMiLEON project (Univ. of Michigan and Univ. of Leeds)
    • Fedora Project Ingest Guide
    • New Skills for a Digital Era– proceedings and case studies
    • PDF/A Competence Center
    • DoD 5015.2 RMA design criteria standard
    • Slides of this presentation will be available on the UWM Records Management website
    • Any other questions? Contact me:
      • [email_address]
      • 414-229-6979