A Day for Electronic Records

Oct. 10 marks Electronic Records Day, which is sponsored by the Council of State Archivists.

Today is the day to shine the spotlight on electronic records, as Oct 10 marks the sixth Electronic Records Day.

Screenshot of various files. Sponsored by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), this day is “to raise awareness among state government agencies, the general public, related professional organizations, and other stakeholders about the crucial role electronic records play in their world.” CoSA is a national nonprofit association that serves the 56 state and territorial archives in the United States. If you aren’t familiar with state archives, they typically collect, preserve, and share the records that document state and local history. This can include the email of a governor’s administration, or geospatial information from multiple states.

Electronic records typically are created (or born) in a digital format but can include digitized materials. Electronic records affect everyone whether it be digital images taken and stored on a smart phone, project planning documents at work, health files at a doctor’s office, or entries within a database. Some of these can be easily managed by the record creator while others are the responsibility of others.

This annual day also falls during American Archives Month and National Cyber Security Awareness Month. And, if you are looking for more reason to celebrate, Nov. 30 marks International Digital Preservation Day.

Color image of computer hard drive.

Today (or anytime) is a good time to review your own digital life and make necessary adjustments to ensure long-term accessibility:

  • What electronic records or files do you have? Which ones do you consider important for the long term, either for legal, financial, or historical reasons?
  • How are they being stored? Do you have them on the cloud, hard drive, external drives, optical media, or other?
  • Are they secure? Do they have or need password protection?
  • Do you have metadata or additional information about the files? Software used, year created, etc.?
  • Do you have them in an analog/printed version as well?
  • Are they being backed up? Are there multiple copies in multiple places?
  • Are they easy to find? Are the file and directory names helpful?
  • What formats are they in? Well-established formats like PDF and JPG?
  • Will they still be accessible in a year or five years with standard equipment and software?
  • Do you use social media and do you want to keep those postings?
  • Do you still need these files? Is it a draft or final version?

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