CoSA PREPARE Needs Assessment Survey Report

By Michelle Gallinger posted 09-29-2021 11:29 AM

The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) PREPARE project is providing capacity-building services for email management and preservation to state and territorial archives through the University of Illinois’ Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In order to determine specific needs and interests, CoSA developed a needs assessment survey and distributed it to its member organizations in May 2021. There was a strong response from state and territorial archives—87.5% of the 56 states and territories completed the survey. These states shared their priorities and obstacles in email preservation including transfer, preservation, processing, access, institutional and state-wide policies, documentation, and resources. Responses to the survey and the insights they provide are discussed in aggregate in this report.

Challenges to State Government Email Preservation. Existing policies demonstrate that state and territorial governments are aware of the importance of email preservation. However, the lack of substantial collection and preservation of email records by state and territorial archives show that there are significant challenges implementing preservation practices. Major impediments to preservation of email include: • Huge scale of email records (66% of states listed this as a challenge and 19% identified it as the biggest obstacle they face) • Insufficient statewide policy adoption (63% and 16%) • A lack of access to technology (63% and 13%) While states and territories find the scale of email records daunting now, the scale of email records is likely to continue trending upwards. A majority (82%) of responding archives expect to see their holdings of email grow significantly in the next 5 years. Yet 40% of responding archives report uncertainty about the specific amount of growth they will face. State and territorial archives need to build additional capacity to successfully deal with the massive influx of email records and other electronic messaging records expected in the near future.

The full report can be found here: