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The Maryland State Archives approach to salvaging, managing, and delivering our archival heritage Edward C. Papenfuse State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents. Reference Services in the Digital Age.

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reference services in the digital age

The Maryland State Archives approach to salvaging, managing, and delivering our archival heritage

Edward C. Papenfuse

State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents

Reference Services in the Digital Age
salvaging our archival heritage

For an archives to be a vital resource, a gateway to learning about and from our past mistakes and triumphs, it is imperative that we integrate electronic delivery into the very fabric of how we define and manage archives.

There are three basic principles to archival management in the instant electronic information age:

Salvaging our Archival heritage
manage well what you have

1) Manage what you have to at least the container level in a dynamic, easily up datable electronic environment, making certain that the database/tabled system is open source, platform independent, or at worst painlessly and inexpensively transferable from one platform to the next. Be sure to have a minimum of three exact copies working together at separate sites (as far distant from each other as feasible).

Manage well what you have
integrate scanning into processing

2) integrate scanning into the processing of records where applicable, and place as much record material in whatever format on line as quickly and as inexpensively as possible within an open source delivery environment that consists at minimum of three exact, update able copies, functioning in a secure and load balanced way as far distant from each other as feasible. Pay close attention to unique file labeling and authentication, as well as providing a readily accessible audit trail that documents the process from acquisition to deliverable. Make certain that the system of deliverables allows for users to add value to the understanding of the record through an open on line description, annotation, and transcription process.

Integrate Scanning into Processing
provide safe secure environmentally friendly storage

3) provide safe, secure, and environmentally friendly but supportive storage, that is economical, energy efficient, and linked to an on-line circulation and delivery system. The principal form of delivery to the user should be electronic , with the prioritization of bringing any records, not born digital, on line based on funding resources and user demand for access. While there must be in person reference space attached to any archives, most research and effective utilization of archives is, and will remain, virtual. Physical storage should be compact and maximum space efficient

Provide Safe, Secure, Environmentally Friendly Storage
the pressing need for change

The future is dependent upon how well the significance of archival holdings is conveyed to an increasingly skeptical, attention deficit public

The significance of archival holdings will best be measured by how much and how well they are made meaningfully accessible on line

Traditional methods of managing, processing and providing access to records must be converted to cost effective web based services

Reference resources must be aggressively focused on improving web based deliverables in a context that draws the user to their significance quickly in Google like fashion

The Pressing Need for Change
digitization and permanence

The key to permanence is a platform independent distributive system

Where Electronic Archives actually exist in multiple (minimum of 3) copies physically distant from each other, but inextricably linked so that any change or loss system wide is instantly known and recorded (audited)‏

Charts of Maryland State Archives model

Digitization and Permanence
knowing what you should have
Knowing what you should have
  • Automate the records inventory and scheduling process for permanent retention and transfer to the Archives
  • Strengthen laws requiring all agencies to follow records management requirements promulgated by the Archives
    • NYT editorial re: White House email
knowing what you do and don t have
Knowing what you do and don't have
  • Implement a comprehensive on-line Guide to all holdings in custody or intended for archival custody by schedule that serves as an effective management environment
    • At minimum, describe and manage all records in, and pending archival custody at the series unit level (record center box, clamshell, reel of film, ebook, etc.)
    • Facilitate professional archival updating and correcting of the Guide (Wikipedia like)
    • Allow users to add value on line to all finding aids (Wikipedia like)
    • Maintain a permanent audit trail of changes, updates, etc. with ease of archival editorial review, including links to records retention and disposal schedules
digitization as conservation of non digital records
Digitization as Conservation of non digital records
  • Incorporate digitization into the processing of records that are not already digitized
  • Refrain from over processing
  • Concentrate on economies of scale and efficiencies of preservation
  • Make all stages of processing available on line as quickly and cost effectively as possible
    • Example: Salvaging the Records of Poplar Grove, Queen Anne's County, Maryland
digitization as conservation of born digital records
Digitization as Conservation of born digital records
  • Provide born digital records on line as they are transferred to the Archives
    • Secure privileged and legally sealed records with a timed release framework that occurs automatically and on schedule
      • Example: none to date but could include vital records such as death records which are not open until 20 years subsequent to the death of the individual
digitization as deliverables
Digitization as Deliverables
  • Distinguish between archival digital files (images and born digital) and deliverables
  • Adapt deliverables to the least expensive and simplest format possible
    • Html ebooks utilizing non-proprietary images and pdf-a standards for encapsulating the chaos of formats used in generating documents
    • Use OCR with images wherever feasible incorporating txt files into the ebook deliverable
    • Provide index access using both fielded and full text searching
digitization as deliverables1
Digitization as Deliverables
  • Convert all permanent microfilm holdings to on line deliverables as quickly and cost-effectively as possible
    • Retain rights to most, if not all, income that is derived from placing images on line
  • Treat digitized deliverables as the ultimate disaster recovery plan
    • Cologne should place the highest priority on web access to the digitization of its security microfilm as it rebuilds its archival program
digitization and sustainability
Digitization and Sustainability
  • The cost of maintaining a permanent electronic archives should be borne by those who benefit most from their preservation matched up to 50% by income from endowment investments
  • In providing deliverables to the public, concentrate on series for which there is an independent and continuing funding source
  • Use the overhead from funded electronic series to support unfunded deliverables and the search for new permanent funding sources
    • Goal: separate dedicated funding sources for sustaining all on line deliverables
digitization and sustainability1
Digitization and Sustainability
  • Create a tax exempt Friends group for the Archives for fund raising, receipt of grants, and as a source of support for all income producing products of the Archives such as document acquisition and publications
    • Example: Washington's draft of his speech resigning his commission as Commander in Chief, December 23, 1784
    • Example: Lincoln In Annapolis, February 1865
digitization and permanence1
Digitization and Permanence
  • The key to permanence is a live, platform independent, distributive system
    • Electronic Archives actually exist in multiple (minimum of 3) copies physically distant from each other, but inextricably linked so that any change or loss system wide is instantly known and recorded (audited)‏
    • Two copies, minimum, are secured and internal only, linked to an on line public server environment
the future

The future of Archives depends on how well the significance of holdings is conveyed to an increasingly skeptical, attention deficit public

The significance of archives will be measured best by how much and how well they are accessible on line

Traditional methods of managing, processing and providing access to records must be converted to cost effective web based services

Reference resources must be aggressively focused on improving web based deliverables in a context that draws the user to their significance. All finding aids must be full text searchable by spiders from reputable search engines like Google

The Future