Digital State archive

Digital recordkeeping is not only about creating digital records; it’s also about making sure we can use and rely on them for as long as they are needed. This includes those records that are required to be retained permanently as part of the State’s archives.

State Records has responsibility to identify these records and ensure they are properly preserved and made available to government and the public. This means that any digital records that are identified as having continuing value for the memory of the State are available and useable – now and into the future.

State Records has put in place an expert team, tools and processes to accept, preserve and maintain these ‘born digital’ permanent government records permanantly, in NSW’s first Digital State archive.

What records can be transferred to the Digital State Archive?

NSW Government creates and keeps records of its business in a wide variety of systems, from correspondence systems to specialised business applications. The digital records that are identified as being ‘State archives’ might be in the form of emails, office documents, digital photographs or audio-visual files, whole databases or scanned documents. Typically, the records will be managed together with metadata that makes relationships with other records, identifies technical dependencies and links the records to the business they document.

To be eligible for transfer to State Records the records should no longer be in active use by the public office, however they can be of any age. The records must be covered by a current Access Direction.

Digital archives tools and resources are available at: www.records.nsw.gov.au/digitalarchives

You can search for publicly available digital archives at www.records.nsw.gov.au/digitalarchives/repository/

photoHow will the records remain useable and trustworthy?

Rather than adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy, State Records’ Digital Archives team works with public offices to assess their digital recordkeeping systems and develop customised plans for migrating those systems to the Digital State Archive. Common elements of these plans include the identification of file formats and the analysis of metadata.

The Digital Archives team has developed tools to support these processes such as the Preservation Pathways Registry and the Metadata Registry.

The Digital Archives Migration Methodology provides a structured, step by step, method for agencies and State Records to follow to manage both the migration of the records and the legal transfer of the records to State Records as archives.

To learn more about State Records’ approach and the thinking behind it, you can read:

How can agencies keep their digital records in good shape?

Whether or not digital records end up being part of the State archives, there are steps you can take to ensure they are reliable and useable evidence for the short or long term. Adopting these measures will also be of great assistance should they eventually be proposed for migration to us:

  • plan and manage useful recordkeeping metadata;
  • monitor the use of non standard or proprietary formats or systems – these can be problematic for long term accessibility;
  • know which records can be deleted and which have long term value, by referring to disposal authorities; and
  • carefully manage the migration of records through systems change; see the Digital Archives Migration Methodology for a step by step approach you can adapt to your needs.

For more guidance on good digital recordkeeping practice, see our pages on Transitioning to digital business and Designing, implementing and managing systems on the State Records website.

For more information

Contact the Digital Archives team at digitalarchives@records.nsw.gov.au or call on (02) 9673 1788

Published July 2014

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