Tag Archives: born digital

Electronic Records Day 2018: “Back to the Repository” and Storage Structure

[This blog post was written by Jamie Patrick-Burns, Digital Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina]

It’s October 10 and that means Electronic Records Day! Sponsored by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), Electronic Records Day is an opportunity to share how we manage our state’s digital resources and raise awareness about best practices for electronic recordkeeping and preservation. The State Archives of North Carolina presents the short film “Back to the Repository.”

Repository structure was fresh on our minds as we have recently restructured our digital repository. The principles below guided our planning and can apply to any file management system at home or in the office. Think about structure and file/folder names that will age well and be clear in the future. A folder or document called “Minutes” might make sense for a couple of weeks if you can remember what the meeting was about and when, but in one year or 20 years you won’t remember! A better title could be “20181010_board_minutes” to include the date and the group that had the meeting.

  1. Hierarchy: organize folders in a hierarchy that is natural to your organization. For the
    Series of boxes indicating a file structure

    Example folder hierarchy

    archives, state agency records are organized by record group (office), series, item number (used to track a particular group of records, e.g. Director’s Correspondence), and accession number (number assigned when records are officially taken into archival custody). Special Collections are arranged by unit, collection number, and accession number. The hierarchy uses identifiers that are well-known to all staff in the Records Center and the Archive, rather than an individual user’s schema. Learn more about record groups, numbering, and retention schedules on our website at https://archives.ncdcr.gov/government/retention-schedules.

  2. File paths: the file path is the full path the computer must navigate to open a document including drive, folders, and file name, for example C:\My Documents\Budgets\2018_budget.xlsx. File names should be descriptive but concise, as some operating systems have a limit to how many characters the file path can be. Microsoft cannot open files with a path longer than 255 characters. In order to avoid long file paths, we use standardized abbreviations in the repository. For example State Records is “SR,” local/county records is “CR,” the Audiovisual Materials unit of Special Collections is “AV.” We also use a numbering system from the catalog that assigns numbers to record groups and series, so that rather than spelling out “Department of Insurance” or having a number of variations such as “Dept. of Insurance,” “Dept of Ins,” etc., the number 00009 is assigned to that department. Numbers have five digits to leave room for expansion and to sort properly in the file system, and we have an index of materials in the repository to help users navigate the abbreviations and numbers. There are also certain characters that should not be included in a file name as they can cause confusion or problems for the operating system: \ / : * ? “ < > | [ ] & $ , . These characters mean something in an electronic environment – for example, the forward slash / indicates folder levels for Microsoft, and a period . denotes a file extension, so if they are in a file name the computer may not know how to interpret them. For more information, see our documentation on best practices for file naming: https://archives.ncdcr.gov/documents/best-practices-file-naming.
  3. Finally, good governance of a repository includes policies for appraisal and collecting.
    Cover of the Managed Storage Guidance for Archival and Permanent Materials

    Cover of the Managed Storage Guidance for Archival and Permanent Materials

    Having clear guidelines on what will and will not be accepted (retention schedule, in-scope documentation, etc.) prevents a “let’s collect everything” attitude or spur-of-the-moment decisions, so that space is not wasted, materials can be found, and you and future users know why something is in the repository in the first place. The State Archives of North Carolina’s repository includes digitized and born-digital records from state and local government as well as special collections. From email to GIS data to PDFs and Word documents, the repository contains records of North Carolina history and activities in electronic format. We all do our best with the knowledge we have, and no one can know the future. But we do our best to have a repository with policies and practices that will stand the test of time so that in another 20 years, digital archivists will be able to find what they’re looking for and won’t have (too many) reasons to say, “What were they thinking?”

Happy Electronic Records Day!

Making Digital Memories Persist

[This blog post was written by Kelly Eubank, head of the Digital Services Section.]

A whole generation has grown up with their lives recorded in digital form–photos, videos, class assignments, social interactions. For the digital files that are important to last, the creator must actively manage them. Digital files are vulnerable to loss from either human error (failure to be vigilant), natural disaster (hard drive failure or bitrot) or just plain neglect—unstable file formats, poor file naming, or failure to have multiple copies or move a file from a device before replacing that device.

People get new phones and new devices on average every two years. In order for digital files to persist, people can take some common, relatively painless actions. Firstly, because machines or devices may break, you should always keep multiple copies of files on different devices. If your phone has an option to back up your files to a cloud provider e.g. icloud or GoogleDrive, you should opt to do that. Additionally, we suggest you back up your device to a computer. As you run out of space on your device, you can transfer those to another machine that to delete them from your device. Second, not all file formats are equal. In the world of digital persistence, some file formats are more universally supported and can be read by different types of machines while others are closed and require a specific piece of hard ware and software to read them. For a list of recommended file formats, please consult our guidance document, “File Format Guidelines for Management and Long-Term Retention of Electronic Records.”

Last, when a machine or device saves a file, it typically either assigns it a name or will ask you to name it. If you don’t consciously name it something that will make sense to you now and in the future, you risk losing important files because you cannot remember the name of the file. This is particularly true with digital photos which inherit the name assigned to it by the SIM card. By renaming the file and organizing it according to function or event, you will better be able to discover it in the future. For more guidance on File Naming, please consult our guidance materials, “Best Practices for File Naming” or video tutorials on File Naming at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi_A4Ywn4VU&feature=youtu.be.

For more tips and tricks, we invite you to take a look at our Digital Preservation Best Practices and Guidelines website at: http://www.digitalpreservation.ncdcr.gov/

Labor Day, New Finding Aids, and Blockade Runners

The State Archives of North Carolina will be closed August 30 – September 1 for the Labor Day holiday. Even though the building will be closed, our website is always open to you. Here are some new items that you may find interesting.

New in Government Records

New digital records guidelines are available for:

New Finding Aids

Several new finding aids are available on the State Archives of North Carolina website.

Audio Visual Materials

Century Film Productions Motion Picture Films Collection (pdf)
Century Film Productions (AKA Century Studios; Century Films) was a Raleigh-based film studio owned and operated by O.B. (Ollie) and Lynn Garris. O.B. – while also a cameraman for WRAL-TV – was the primary cinematographer, and his wife, Lynne, played a variety of roles from set designer to director, editing and sound to production assistant. The Century Film Productions catalog spans from the late 1950s through the early 1980s, and including completed films, production elements, and outtakes – all but two in 16mm format – numbers over 200 items. A few highlights include sponsored films for Carolina Power & Light, Occoneechee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the North Carolina Department of Transportation with R.J. Reynolds, the U.S. Navy, and the North Carolina Police Information Network; a North Carolina State University football game; commercials for Mt. Olive Pickles and Record Bar; short films and television spots for the political ad campaigns of state governors Dan K. Moore, Terry Sanford, and Robert W. Scott, United States Representative Jim Gardner, and others. There are also important events in North Carolina history that are captured on film such as a Ku Klux Klan march from circa 1965, the Pullen Hall fire at North Carolina State University in 1965, the inauguration of James E. Holshouser, Jr., and more. (204 items)

Governors Papers

  • David S. Reid, (in office January 1, 1851-December 5, 1854)
  • Daniel L. Russell (in office January 12, 1897-January 14, 1901)
  • Alfred M. Scales (in office January 21, 1885-January 16, 1889)
  • Richard D. Spaight (in office December 14, 1792-November 18, 1795)
  • James Turner (in office December 6, 1802-December 9, 1805)
  • Zebulon B. Vance, 1st Administration (in office September 8, 1862-May 28, 1865)
  • Zebulon B. Vance, 2nd Administration (January 1, 1877-February 4, 1879)

Private Collections

Cunningham, Josiah H. and William A., Letters, 1861-1865 (pdf)
Josiah H. Cunningham (ca. 1841-1863) and William Alexander Cunningham (ca. 1843-1904) were sons of George Washington (ca. 1807-1872) and Susan Turner Rives Cunningham (ca. 1817-1901), Granville County. On 8 June, 1861, the two brothers enlisted as privates, trained at a school of cavalry instruction at Camp Beauregard, Ridgeway, Warren County. It was there that the 9th Regiment N.C. State Troops (1st Regiment N. C. Cavalry) was formed on 12 August 1861. William survived the war, but Josiah was wounded 15 October 1863 near Manassas Junction, Va., and died the following day. Consists of fifty-six letters, the majority of which were written by the Cunningham brothers to family at home. Of these, a small quantity were written by Daniel B. Duke, company bugler, and by Robert D. Grisham/ Grissom, a private, both from Granville County, and one by Turner, probably a kinsman. Most of the letters consisted of references to life in the camps, with news that would be of interest to family at home, and did not dwell on the dangers and horrors of war. A couple of letters after Josiah’s death provide a few scant details to the grieving family. (1 box)

New on YouTube

If you missed the Civil War 150 talk “The Blockade and Blockade Running in North Carolina, 1861-1865” by Andrew Duppstadt on August 11, 2014, the video of the talk is now available on the Department of Cultural Resources YouTube channel.

New Blog Posts

Highlights from Archives and Records for August

So here we are in the middle of August – which makes it time, I think, to take stock of what’s been going on in Archives and Records.

Our records management staff have been busy posting to the new G.S. 132 Files blog. Although I’m not going to list every excellent post they’ve written this month, I’ll give you some the best and encourage you all to check out the new blog:

Our Civil War 150 blog has been busy as well:

In addition to all of that, the Western Regional Archives opened this month. Our parent organization, the Dept. of Cultural Resources, passed along two interesting videos related to the opening: first, some coverage that the WRA got in the local media; and second, a video of the opening ceremony held on August 10th.

Records Management Gets a New Blog

[This blog post comes from Becky McGee-Lankford of our Government Records Branch.]

It is my pleasure to announce that the official Records Management blog of the State Archives of North Carolina will go live Monday, July 16th. The “G.S. 132 Files: North Carolina Public Records Blog” is our newest form of communicating and interacting with you; the custodians of North Carolina’s public records. It will be available at: http://ncrecords.wordpress.com/. Through this blog, we intend to expand on our records management services by providing you all with an information portal for news, events, training opportunities, and discussion.

Every day, the analysts and archivists at the State Archives of North Carolina answer your questions, consult you for advice, and consider the trickier issues of public records law. Now you will have the opportunity to engage with us collectively. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but we want to hear from you! As always, please feel free to email or call me with any questions, input, or concerns you have.

Awards!

We’ve gotten a lot of good news in our inbox today.

First, the Society of American Archivists Preservation Publication Award subcommittee has selected the Geospatial Multistate Archive and Preservation Partnership (GeoMAPP) publication, Best Practices for Archival Processing for Geospatial Datasets, to receive this year’s award. To quote their announcement:

“The subcommittee found Best Practices for Archival Processing for Geospatial Datasets to be a valuable contribution to the field of digital preservation for a common but complex type of electronic record.  Among the strengths of the publication is the clear organization according to the steps of a detailed geospatial archival processing workflow.   The inclusion of recommended metadata elements to capture, checklists such as the Quality Assurance Process Workflow Checklist, and especially the list of key questions to ask at each stage of the process should be particularly helpful to programs setting up their processes for the first time.  This publication comes at a time when many archivists are eager for practical guidance as they begin to collect more complex types of electronic records like geospatial data.  The GeoMAPP work provides practical explanation and advice for the archival management and preservation of geospatial data and can help advance the practice of digital preservation in this important field. “

The award will be given on August 10, 2012 in San Diego during the SAA Annual Meeting. Congratulations to Lisa Speaker and Kelly Eubank of our Electronic Records branch who worked so hard on GeoMAPP! It’s great to see their work rewarded with national praise.

We also heard that the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Innovation Working Group selected the State Library and State Archives of North Carolina for an innovation award in recognition “for their work educating state employees and information professionals on digital preservation…” You can read the full announcement on the Library of Congress blog The Signal (and you should go read it because it is very good). Congratulations again to Kelly Eubank, our Electronic Records branch, and to all the staff of the State Library’s Digital Information Management Program (better known as DIMP).

File Naming Tutorials from the State Library

[This blog notice comes from Lisa A. Gregory, Digital Projects Liaison for the Digital Information Management Program, part of the State Library of North Carolina. For more information about the State Library, visit their website or blog.]

The State Library of North Carolina is excited to announce a short, easy-to-understand tutorial on file naming. Designed to help people take small and everyday steps to preserve their files, this four-part tutorial describes why file naming is important, how to change a file name, and the dos and donts of file naming. We’re hoping you can make these videos available to your patrons or anyone else who might be creating digital files.

These videos are part of a new series, Inform U, which will feature tutorials on digital preservation. Digital preservation means taking practical and conscious steps to keep digital files around for future access and use.

View the tutorials and more information about digital preservation at http://digitalpreservation.ncdcr.gov/tutorials.html. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at digital.info@ncdcr.gov.