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by Simone Wagner

Modernize preservation and access to government records

August 10, 2023

During the 2023 NAGARA Annual Conference I had the chance to talk with government Records Managers and Clerks to discuss the challenges of managing public records. As records managers and archivists, you have different records that you manage, and each has different requirements that need to be addressed at scale for preservation. The number of records you must keep with long-term or permanent retention schedules is constantly increasing for physical as well as electronic records.

Here are the top 6 challenges we heard:

Record Transfers and Capture

Managing email and content transfers can be a time-consuming process and typically done one document or email at a time. On top of this, email has limits on attachments which can cause even more time delays and headaches. Another challenge with content transfers is that they come with systems that can be technically complicated for contributors.

Beyond email and content transfers from digital methods, you might already be sitting on thousands of records that are unreadable because file formats are obsolete creating risks of not being able to meet records retention mandates.

How Digital Preservation helps: Instead of departments sending emails with documents to be preserved, invite internal departments to submit records directly into the platform for preservation. This allows you to quickly receive, review and select files to ingest directly into folders.

Arrangement and Organization

Organizing files at scale across multiple departments is difficult when there are not enough staff to plan and execute how to label and file all the records that need to be preserved. With multiple departments needing to upload records you could have people ingesting records that may not have record management or archival expertise, leading to difficulty keeping your clean and organized.

How Digital Preservation helps: Preservica for Local Government provides pre-built folder hierarchies that can be configured and changed to meet your organization’s needs. Ingest all new files directly into the existing folder structure for quick organization including descriptions and metadata.

Security and Internal Access

Different departments have separate systems and processes. Siloed systems can cause headaches when trying to maintain a clean archive of all records, classified documents end up being in a different system all together from land and vital records. There is also a need for various levels of access based on the department and users that are uploading and accessing records.

How Digital Preservation helps: Easily apply roles and permissions based on departments and the level of security needed by each user based on the files they need to upload. Security tags can also be used for tagging internal records versus records that need to be made public.

Description of Metadata

Describing records is a time-consuming process but also a very necessary one. Schemas like Dublin Core do not describe certain records the way a person would search for them. This leads to records being difficult to find and risk you not being able to meet FOI requests or your retention mandates.

How Digital Preservation helps: Add descriptive metadata to all assets at upload for discoverability based on how you would search for them, saving time in fulfilling public records requests. Preservica for Local Government also comes with pre-configured metadata groups saving your organization time on developing a system for categorizing records.

Public Access

A lot of institutions are using one system for archiving and another for public access, which can be incredibly complex. This also leads to public-facing sites having outdated information creating problems for citizens trying to get the records they want to look at.

How Digital Preservation helps: Securely preserve and share through your own customizable discovery portal - all from one easy-to-use application.

You more than likely face these challenges in your work on a day-to-day basis, with so many records you manage with different requirements that need to be addressed within your preservation systems. ​​​​​​Developed with government teams, Preservica for Local Government is a NEW ready-to-go application that comes pre-configured with templates for different government record workflows built to help you and your organization cut the time you spend on these challenges.

“Replacing our legacy physical and digital media with digital preservation has made us far more efficient – cutting records request times from days to minutes and providing easy, secure self-service for our Court and other departments”

Robin Heise, Records Manager at Greene County, Ohio Records Center