The “Practical E-Records Method” provides recommendations that small and medium sized archives can use to make digital curation and archives a systematic institutional function in your institution. For those first starting to get involved with digital archives issues, I would recommend working through the steps in the order listed. However, the process of setting up a program of any kind is seldom linear. Therefore, so you implement the program incrementally and iteratively, as you situation dictates.
The Practical E-Records Method will not suit every circumstance. It aims to help archives develop a program using existing resources, technologies and tools. It builds capacity, competence and trust—essential prerequisites for further action (and expansion in staff and other resources. In the meantime, the program will do no harm to the records and will leave them in a position that they can be integrated into more formally complex and sufficient preservation systems (e.g. things that, at most institutions might best be called ‘castles in the air’, or ‘vaporware’), at some future point.
- Assess available resources (e.g. staff, technology, IT support, institutional commitment, budget.)
- Write an electronic records program statement.
- Engage carefully selected records producers and IT staff a pilot electronic records program.
- Develop policies and procedures concerning submission of content from creators/producers.
- Begin implementation of a trustworthy digital repository , in light of constraints imposed by 1 above, ensuring that the records included complement and do not duplicate those preserved by other trusted internal or external agencies.
- Develop preservation and access action plans.
- Develop processing, preservation, and storage workflows for submitted materials.
- Implement the workflows using the Practical E-Records Workstation.
- Develop an access system for resources ingested into your trustworthy storage environment.
Important note: The Practical E-Records Method is a work in progress. The specific set of steps, wording, or detailed guidance is added, deleted, or edited on a daily or weekly basis. When ‘finalized,’ I will say so.