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Council of State Archivists (CoSA)


Resources on Local Government Records

Local government records represent the foundation of the U.S. archival system and are truly “Closest to Home,” created and used in the communities in which we, as citizens, live and work. They are arguably the records that most affect our daily lives and those of our neighbors, documenting our marriages; the education of our children; the homes, land, and businesses we own; the social services we receive; and civil and criminal legal proceedings in our communities.

Download flyer describing CoSA resources for local governments (PDF, 305K, 2pp)


Local Government Archives Case Statement

Valuing and Protecting Local Government Records: Making the Case for Local Government Archives

This document is designed build the "case" for supporting local government archives. It explains why local government records are important, highlights factors that threaten them, and describes strategies to ensure long-term preservation and access to these important documents.

Download free PDF to copy and distribute
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Local Government Archives Call to Action

A Call to Action: Doing Your Part for Records That Are Closest to Home and Closest to You

Outlines specific actions that individual citizens and local government officials can take to improve the care and ensure long-term preservation and access.

Download free PDF to copy and distribute
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See also: Reports, statistics, and additional resources developed by the
Local Government Archives Task Force.

Why Records Matter bookmarks

Why Records Matter

This compact statement says it all. Records are essential to protecting life, property, rights, and to restoring order and resuming operations following a disaster. Printed on two sides. (8.5” x 2.8”)

Order bookmarks
$15 per pack of 100 (includes S/H)


Record Schedules for Local Government Records

The CoSA Resource Center has links to local government records schedules from almost every state. Find the schedules that apply to your jurisdiction or search for models to follow in developing your own.

IPER logo

Introduction to Records and Information Management

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Intro to RIM cover

This online 90-minute narrated presentation was designed to provide a foundation for those unfamiliar with basic records management procedures before taking the IPER emergency preparedness courses (see next page). It is also an effective way to introduce new staff or volunteers to fundamental records-related terminology and standard practices, as well as to the basics of handling electronic records and special media.

Essential Records

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IPER Essential Records cover

Records Emergency Planning and Response

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IPER Records Emergency Planning and Response cover


CoSA has developed two courses — Essential Records and Records Emergency Planning and Response — with support from a $2.6 million grant from the Federal Emergency Planning Agency as part of our Intergovernmental Preparedness for Essential Records (IPER) Project.

Since active training began in late 2010, we have prepared more than 150 instructors in nearly every state and territory to deliver the training. They have delivered the courses to more than 3,300 students FREE as both instructor-led webinars and in-person workshops.

While the FEMA grant is now ending, many states have indicated that they will continue to deliver the IPER courses to state and local governments. Check the CoSA website or contact your state archives to see if training is available in your area.

Free self-directed versions of both courses will also be available online later in 2012 through the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Contact iper@statearchivists.org to be notified when these courses are open for registration.


Many state archives provide assistance to local governments with disaster recovery and training in emergency preparedness. These services expanded into a nationwide collective effort led by CoSA after hurricanes damaged or destroyed many government records in 2005.

CoSA’s Resource Center contains links to emergency preparedness and response tools and advice in every state. Look for guidance and tips that apply to your jurisdiction or search for models to help you develop your own.
PReP envelope

Thousands of recordkeepers nationwide have adopted the Pocket Response Plan (PReP) as a basic preparedness tool.

Free templates help you quickly set up a condensed response plan with key contact information and first steps toward recovery.

Purchase credit-card-sized Tyvek PReP envelopes from CoSA to protect your plan.


State Electronic Records Initiative

CoSA launched its State Electronic Records Initiative in the summer of 2011. Much of what we are learning about electronic records instate government agencies also applies to local governments. We encourage you to follow developments in this project and explore the resources it provides.

National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA)

Additional resources re: local government records are available from NAGARA at http://www.nagara.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=67


The Case Statement and Call to Action were developed by CoSA's Local Government Records Task Force as part of its "Closest to Home" Project, 2007-2011, with support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided funding for the Intergovernmental Preparedness for Essential Records (IPER) Project that developed the three training courses: Introduction to Records and Information Management, Essential Records, and Records Emergency Planning and Response.

Initial funding for CoSA's Emergency Preparedness Initiative, 2005-2007, came from the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), and Ancestry.com.