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Subject: Re: Electronic Records Question
From: Chris Flynn <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 31 Oct 2003 09:51:09 -0800
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Boy, one heck of a Friday quiz.
Are electronic records different from other types of records? Yes
Do they present unique problems? Yes
Will applying current theory and principles resolve the current and future
problems? NO
Do we need to do things differently? YES
Can Archives handle the current volume of permanent electronic records? NO
Who can? The originating agency

What can we do?
There is no way for current archives to handle the wide and diverse volume
of permanent records that have been created. IMHO, we need to create a new
set of guiding principles and theory to allow Archival records to be
maintained in the system of origin. The Archivist would become the
coordinator of information, setting standards maintenance and defining
migration paths. The Agency would be responsible for ensuring the continued
survival of the record as well as allowing access to the information through
the auspices of the Archivist. Or something like that. Requiring that the
record be altered in order allow transfer to an archives is contrary to
basic archival theory. Archivists continue to battle the changing
environment of electronic records. The key, IMHO, is to identify, preserve
and make accessible the historical record. It is not as important to make it
conform to an outdated theory as it is to preserve the record for future
generations.

I am looking at rewriting standards to a more open and less restrictive
definition or format. We cannot continue to create bottlenecks in the
process. In addition Archivists are rarely included in the creation process
to begin with. Unless they are willing to move into the fray I see little
reason to keep asking them. As long as the record can continue to be
generated as it originally was created there is little justification for not
allowing the agency to maintain the record.

Well unless you live in North Dakota in which case you carve the record in
stone and drop it in an old missile silo.

Chris Flynn

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