>>> [log in to unmask] 02/08/01 02:17PM >>>


<<<< In its place they now use the term Life Expectancy and add numerals to indicate the number of years one can reasonably expect the information to be retrievable and legible. For microfilm it is 500 years (LE500). Electronic records are currently presumed to have an LE
rating of 3-5 years - not what one would consider 'archival' in any sense.

I has always been my understanding that Archivists were
concerned with preserving materials for long periods of time
- 'forever' being the desired, but unattainable, goal.>>>>

Mr. Thomas,

You are right in your observations and your concern. However, since you brought up the word "forever"; what guarantee does the archival community have that the technology will be available in 400-500 years from now to migrate the information currently being recorded on microfilm onto whatever storage format(s) will be in use then?

Migration issues have ALWAYS been a challenge to archival institutions and archivists. When you take the "forever" viewpoint I don't see that any format can promise or guarantee to be around; including paper, microfilm, AND electronic media. A LE of 500 years when compared to "forever" seems to simply postpone the problem a few more generations at best from a migration viewpoint.

The volume of records being currently generated in electronic format, coupled with an increasingly demanding clientele (I want everything about everything and I want it NOW!!) will make it impractical, if not impossible, to migrate/convert the vast quantity of historically significant information currently existing in electronic format to paper or microfilm.

I am sure that during the first 50 years or so of the "new technological wonder" of microfilm had serious standard and format issues to confront; and are still addressing them. 

I would also suggest that you look into efforts of some major archival institutions around the world (NARA in the US, the Australian National Archives, the Singapore Archives, etc., etc.) about the efforts and inroads being achieved in this area.



Curtis Welch
Sr. Records Management Analyst
Pinellas Co. BCC Admin. Services
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