John McDonough

John McDonough

Last updated on 11 May 2017

And so the National Archives has been asked to blog about digital preservation. 

I guess this will be aspirational at best as I think of how we would like to be and where we are.  The National Archives has for the last while been endeavouring to develop a Public Service Records Management plan (PSRM) across the Irish civil service.  The plan is intended to progress the drafting and distribution of guidelines and information notes on how best to manage administrative records and to begin to address the myriad questions we receive on a weekly basis about email management, digital archiving, file naming, version control etc.

Under Irish legislation the National Archives has responsibility for archival management whilst the central government department for public expenditure has records management responsibility.  The PSRM plan is to develop an interdepartmental working group and illustrate how good records management creates good archives and to move from a reactive to a more proactive setting.  The generation of efficiency savings and improved effectiveness & transparency are also stressed in the plan.  In many ways we want to nudge our colleagues in government away from thinking about us as a ‘shelter for the past’ and more towards us as the ‘home of the future’!

Given the near universal use of electronic systems to generate administrative and other records that fall under the remit of the National Archives Act, the plan will also look at best (or even better!) practise with regard to electronic record creating, making and keeping and matters such as governance, risk and technical issues.  We also hope through the plan to jump-start our own capability and capacity with regard to the transfer of electronic records to the National Archives and their subsequent preservation.

NAI Y2K

Getting involved earlier in the records lifecycle is of mutual benefit to the creating agency and ourselves, but there is as yet no legal framework to ensure this beyond the National Archives’ ability to offer general advice.  We hope that PSRM will enable changes to this.

Allied to this we have been developing our own in-house digital imaging capability and last year implemented a pilot instance of Dspace to assess how best to manage our growing sets of digital collections.  We find there is a pedagogical element to our work with potential funders, depositors or collaborators where the process of digitisation is removed from the preparation, cataloguing, and subsequent derivative management and like other DPC members are continually trying to explain that a digitisation project is only one element in the overall curation and care for digital objects.

So, it is a question of watch this space but we hope to issue guidance notes and other publications in the coming months that may be of interest to DPC members...

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