The educational sessions of the Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and the Society of American Archivists concluded at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday, August 17, 2013. This session took a look at the electronic records initiative for every US state and territory.
The panel consisted of:
- James Corridan, Indiana Commission on Public Records
- Matthew B Veatch, State Archivist, Kansas State Historical Society
- Julia Marks Young, Director, Mississippi Department of Archives and History
- Tanya L Marshall, State Archivist, Vermont State Archives & Records Administration
SERI Phase One
U.S. state government electronic records remain at risk. In 2011, the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) launched the State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) to strengthen electronic records management and preservation programs in states and territories. SERI focuses on four critical areas: education and training, awareness and advocacy, governance, and best practices and tools. The session speakers discussed strategies to enhance the capacity of state and territorial archives to meet the electronic records challenge.
Two years ago, thanks to Library Services and Technology (LSTA) grants from Indiana and Kentucky, CoSA hired a consultant to perform research and data analysis on the current grade of electronic records initiatives. CoSA issued a State of State Records in June 2011: only 25 states and territories reported electronic records holdings.
Clearly, opportunity for self-assessment knocked. The steering committee launched Phase One. The self-assessment stages outlined in the interviews were built on the Digital Preservation Capability Maturity Model© by Charles Dollar and Lori Ashley, which in turn was based on ISO 14721, TRAC, ISO 16363 and best practices.
Essentially, the DPCMM benchmarks current capabilities, improves preservation roadmaps, and encourages state electronic records management programs to establish priorities and foster better communication with stakeholders. The stages are:
- Stage 1: nominal digital preservation capability
- Stage 2: minimal digital preservation capability
- Stage 3: intermediate digital preservation capability
- Stage 4: advanced digital preservation capability
- Stage 5: optimal digital preservation capability
The results from a survey of 56 states and territories were surprising.
- 15 state/territorial archives reported having an electronic records staff
- 35 reported an underdeveloped or no electronic records program
- 19 had not accessioned electronic records
- Few could integrate project results into long-term strategies
- Few had working relationships with their state IT departments
- Few involved selection and modification of IT systems affecting archival electronic records
See the full report here.
In the fall of 2011, the SERI steering committee identified four required areas to ensure long-term preservation of electronic records:
- advocacy and awareness
- a governance committee
- best practices and tools
- education and training
The steering committee appointed subcommittees for each goal. Currently, forty individuals representing 23 states and territorial archives serve on these subcommittees.
Advocacy and Awareness
Awareness expands knowledge of the electronic records issues among partnered organizations and key stakeholders. CoSA is unyielding in its pursuit of the correct message for the appropriate audience. Encourage archival colleagues to create press releases and advocacy materials; celebrate Electronic Records Day on 1010 (October 10th — that’s #eRecsDay); and host webinars are vital. Appropriate audiences include state auditors and attorney generals as well as groups like the National Governors Association. In other words: target the message bottom up, middle out, top down, internally and externally.
Governance activities integrate records management and archives requirements into decisions made during IT planning, procurements, and systems development and operations. CoSA seeks a flexible model for all government level settings.
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