Recommended Storage and Handling Guidelines for the Maintenance of Electronic Records of Long-Term or Enduring Value
TECHNICAL BUSINESS APPLICATIONS
COLORADO STATE ARCHIVES
State and local government agencies are now using automated/electronic information systems to create, capture, publish and maintain public records. Many of these records, because they will have long-tern use or enduring legal value, must remain accessible over time. Some will be needed to continue critical government operations (i.e. vital statistics registrations), some to document programs (i.e. public education initiatives), and some to provide legal evidence of the government’s actions (i.e. adjudication of water rights).
Although many agency records personnel may know implicitly which of their systems hold records of long-term value, the Colorado State Archives & Public Records Act (CRS 24-80-101-111) requires state and local government agencies to consult and work with the State Archives staff both to identify records of long-term legal value, and to establish disposition schedules for all their records, whether they be on paper or in an automated system.
To ensure timely access to automated or electronic information, all system users must be able to identify and retrieve records that are on-line, near line, or off-line, no matter where they are stored. If stored off-line, records of enduring legal value will require special maintenance because the basic instability of the media as well as the system conversions (technology obsolescence) may jeopardize their long-term safety.
We have drafted the following guidelines for the electronic maintenance of records of long-term value. Although they provide only threshold requirements, the guidelines do cover important factors like the selection and maintenance of storage media, the storage environment, access over time, and intellectual control.
We urge you, as an agency records manager/custodian, to use these guidelines as a basis for developing the policies and procedures you will need to conduct public business in the months and years ahead. If you have questions or need help in adapting the guidelines for your use, please e-mail the Colorado State Archives at email@example.com or call us at 303-866-2055.
GUIDELINES FOR RECORDS OF LONG-TERM OR ENDURING LEGAL VALUE STORED ON ELECTRONIC MEDIA
Access: Before you convert your information system, decide how you will provide ready access to the records you store off-line.
Media and systems: Select appropriate media and systems for maintaining your record information.
Recommended: Magnetic tapes or cartridges are preferred for the long-term storage of electronic records. CD-ROMs created with the ANSI 9660 standard can be used as well. The storage capacity of a magnetic tape, however, far exceeds that of a CD-ROM.
Not Recommended: Floppy disks, removable disks and optical disks are not recommended for the long-term storage of electronic records.
Access: Maintain your records in a useable format and keep up to date all materials needed to access them, including indexes and other documentation, until they are scheduled for disposal or for transfer to the State Archives.
Backups: Maintain in an off-site location backup and archived copies of records and all materials required to access them.
Labeling: Develop procedures for labeling tapes and cartridges. Each external label should carry information unique to the tape or cartridge it identifies. At minimum, it should display the name of the organizational unit responsible for the data, the system title, the file title, the destruction date or permanent status of the record, and its security classification, if applicable.
Inventories: Develop procedures to maintain an accurate and up-to-date inventory of all records stored off-line. A useful inventory will contain the following information about each tape/cartridge: tape ID, file title(s); dates covered by files; date moved off-line; the recording density; type of internal labels; volume serial number, if applicable; number of tracks; character code/software dependency; information about block size; and the number of the tape if part of a multi-tape set. Where applicable, it will also give the number of records for each set of data, the format of the record, and logical record length.
Care and Handling of Magnetic Tapes
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Direct you comments, suggestions and questions to the:
Colorado State Archives
1313 Sherman Street, Room 1B20
Denver, CO 80203
Last modified June 18, 2003