Friday, March 25, 2016

National Archives permits us to learn from mistakes

National Archives permits us to learn from mistakes. Peter Charleton, Supreme Court judge. The Irish Times. Feb 8, 2016.
      For the National Archives in Ireland, 1922 was a disaster. A direct hit from artillery destroyed centuries of records. The census records from 1821 through to 1891 were almost completely destroyed. Since then, the National Archives has tried to supplement its damaged holdings, but what has been lost is gone forever. With many places moving from paper to digital records history is on the point of repeating itself. The traditional policy of printing files to preserve a digital record no longer works. Files may be on several computers in several iterations; they may have "elements in office systems, email, even text messages or a tweet." With digital, there is a lot of data, which brings a challenge of what to preserve.  But not every record needs preservation.

To ensure records the preservation of long-term records, the records should be transferred to the National Archives. Permanent records need to be identified early and treated appropriately.  Creation of a digital archive will greatly reduce the volume of records that government departments store. "Millions are spent by departments on off-site storage and back-ups of network drives. By investing in a digital archive, departments will be able to transfer emails, business files, digital images and other electronic records to the National Archives. An efficient approach to records management based on legal obligation can target policy effectively."  Money should be directed to the National Archives for developing an efficient system so there are sufficient resources to capture, manage and preserve our digital heritage. This institution, the precious repository of this nation, deserves to be supported in ensuring Ireland continues to have a history.

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