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Digital obsolescence



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  • 1. DigitalObsolescenceAnd YouA Public ServiceAnnouncementBy Justin Mitchell
  • 2. Pittsburgh City Archives CommissionIn September 2012 the Pittsburgh CityCouncil voted unanimously to setup acommission that will: • identify city records that have enduring historic and informational value • centralize and monitor procedures for preserving city records • provide adequate storage for city records
  • 3. Many records that date back to the earliest years ofPittsburgh’s development are being stored in unprotected andunmonitored conditions. It is our responsibility to past andfuture generations to preserve our records. – Patrick Dowd,Pittsburgh City Council Pittsburgh Records Storage - 200 Ross St. Basement
  • 4. Commission on City Archives Ordinance Definition of Records“Record(s)- Any City-producedbook, paper, report, presentation, photograph, map, application or other documentarymaterial, regardless of physicalcharacteristic, deemed appropriate by theCommission for preservation” – TITLE ONE, ARTICLE IX, CHAPTER179C: COMMISSION ON CITY ARCHIVES
  • 5. Electronic Records in the City of PittsburghWhat kinds of records do local governmentagencies generate electronically? o Email o Job applications o Court records o 311 submissions o Press releases o Tax records o Recordings of city council meetings o Laws
  • 6. When was the last time you… Mailed your resume to a city agency? Read a city ordinance issued in print? Watched a city council meeting in person Corresponded with a city official via letter? Filed your taxes on paper?
  • 7. Cities that Archive Digital Records
  • 8. Philadelphia“Electronic records comprise a larger and larger part of mostdepartments‟ information assets and are included under thePhiladelphia Home Rule Charters definition of public records. Electronicrecords are also covered by the Uniform Records Management Policy(Executive Order 6-92), signed by Mayor Edward G. Rendell in 1992.”
  • 9. New York City“Any record, regardless of physical form or characteristic, that hasbeen made, received, filed, or recorded in pursuance of law or inconnection with the transaction of public business, whether or notconfidential or restricted in use; includes electronic and digitalrecords…”
  • 10. Seattle“[Carol Shenk] leads the Office of the City Clerk and the Seattle MunicipalArchives in its digital preservation program, which establishes policies andprocedures and administers the accession, description, preservation, andlong-term access to permanent, archival, electronic records.”
  • 11. Boston“Goals For City-Wide Records Management And Archival Transfers are donein concert. The emphases for records management are confirming that allagencies have Department Records Officers, that they are educated in theuse of the DRO Toolkit site for developing File Plans, and that all arecooperating with DoIT’s initiative to create an electronic records repository.”
  • 12. San Antonio“The Archives is a repository for the historical records of the City ofSan Antonio. It contains manuscripts, photographs, maps, film,electronic, and printed materials.”
  • 13. So What‟s the Big Deal?
  • 14. Here‟s Why You Should CareDigital municipal archives ensure thefollowing:o Open Government in accordance with Right-to-Know Lawso Easier access to public recordso Greater awareness of local history
  • 15. Why It Can‟t Wait: Physical ObsolescenceDo you have the technology necessary to use anyof these?
  • 16. Why It Can‟t Wait: Software ObsolescenceComputer files saved on disks are worthlesswithout the original computer programs
  • 17. Why It Can‟t Wait: Fragility“…material decay can easily erase suchdisks.” – Scientific American
  • 18. What Does It All Mean?“Due to the relentless obsolescence of digitalformats and platforms, along with the ten-year life spans of digital storage media suchas magnetic tape and CD-ROMs, there hasnever been a time of such drastic andirretrievable information loss as right now. Ifthat claim seems extravagant, consider thenumber of literate people in the world andhow much work is „knowledge‟ work, whichincreasingly means computer work. The worldeconomy itself has become digital. This is acivilizational issue.” – Library Journal
  • 19. Examples of Digital Data Loss  Original Apollo 11 moon landing tapes  Digital Version of the Domesday Book  Early electronic U.S. census records  The world‟s first website
  • 20. The Cost of Doing Nothingo Permanent loss of valuable public records, including vital records and political documentso Fines for failing to provide timely access to records in accordance with PA Right-to- Know Lawo Less functional government
  • 21. Next Steps: Digital PreservationThe city council should fund efforts to:o Identify important digital city recordso Digitize important city records in printo Develop record retention schedules for electronic recordso Update or convert important digital files to current softwareo Create a permanent repository for electronic records
  • 22. What You Can DoContact your city council representative.Encourage him or her to create a specialprovision for the preservation of electronicrecords in the new City ArchivesCommission Ordinance:
  • 23. Let‟s Get with the TimesOur Future Depends on it…