Looking After Digital Records

Electronic records are created and kept as part of daily working
life and for the majority of businesses they are the main media of
communication. Whilst electronic records are relatively cheap to
create and retain (compared with paper records) the fact that they
are so easily created, copied and distributed has resulted in
spiraling costs to businesses as IT
infrastucture has to support literally millions of records.

It is important that electronic records such as databases,
websites and email systems are identified and included in records
retention scheduling so that they are contained in your
company’s records management process. Company experts need to
work together to manage the storage and access requirements of
diverse record formats.

Document management systems have been developed by IT vendors to
create fully integrated ‘cradle-to-grave’ records
management for organisations. These tools are not a solution in
themselves – and companies still need to understand the
provenance of their records and establish detailed records
retention scheduling, to ensure the success of any such

For information about records management in general or trends
and developments in electronic document management it’s
useful to contact the Information and Records Management Society. This is a
professional association supporting those who work in or are
concerned with records or information management. It supports
professional development through training and conferences as well
as providing information about best practice and professional
issues. Visit their website at http://irms.org.uk/page/AboutUs 

Another useful source of technical information about electronic
records is the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) – a not-for profit
membership organisation whose primary objective is to raise
awareness of the importance of the preservation of digital
material. Visit their website at http://www.dpconline.org/about.

The DPC has published a guidance document commissioned by the Archives and Records Council Wales which outlines best practices for small organisations and assists them to implement their first steps towards digital preservation. It can be viewed on the Archives Wales website at Digital Preservation for Small Businesses: An Introductory Guide – Archives Wales

The below case study shows how the Corporate Archives at Transport for London developed a digital preservation system to manage a new acquisition of digital transportation records.