State Electronic Records Initiative

CoSA PREPARE: Preparing Archives for Records in Email

The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) received a two-year Mellon grant, a subaward to CoSA from the University of Illinois to develop and deliver a variety of capacity-building activities for email preservation and access, including:

  1. Needs Assessment - this will allow state and territorial archives to identify the key roadblocks to archiving, preserving, and providing access to email collections of state records.
  2. Development of Best Practice Documents - CoSA will develop a series of documents that will make clear current and best practices for the transfer, accession, and preservation of email records and other forms of electronic communication.
  3. Applications, Tools, & Protocols Testing - currently, processing is an impediment to archives providing access to email collections. CoSA will evaluate how tools currently in use compare to one another.
  4. Technical Assistance & Mentoring - states and territories that currently have strong email preservation and processing capabilities will provide insight and information to states and territories looking to establish or deepen their capacity to manage email.
  5. Deepening Communities of Practice - CoSA will continue to support the communities of practice among its members and work to deepen the relationships and the resources for those communities specifically around email accession, preservation, and access.

This project will foster ongoing learning, information exchange, and collaboration among state/territorial archives and the archival community at large. State government emails comprise millions of records, therefore, this project’s activities will focus on providing practical solutions for the collection, preservation, and accessibility of a discrete, but incredibly important, subset – the email generated by governors, lieutenant governors, secretaries of state, and key state legislators – that will also be applicable to other government officials.

For information or to participate feel free to contact Michelle Gallinger or Nick Connizzo.

Learn more about CoSA’s PREPARE work as well as work from other projects that are part of the University of Illinois Email Archives: Building Capacity and Community effort in this presentation recorded for the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI)’s spring 2021 meeting.

PREPARE Resources

  • This report summarizes the findings of volunteers who tested three software packages -- ePADD, DArcMail, and libratom -- for use in their email appraisal, acquisition, processing, and discovery workflows. ...

  • It is essential that roles and responsibilities are defined clearly and consistently. Governance of email depends on the many officials involved in its lifecycle knowing for what they are accountable. ...

  • Emails are challenging records to preserve as they are valuable both as individual records and as aggregate collections. Planning how to structure and store email records can be essential to successful ...

  • There are key topics that must be addressed when creating public policy around email management: classification, retention, and disposition, as well as the roles and responsibilities related to each. Each ...

  • The volume of email is overwhelming now and will grow significantly in the next 5 years. Government email messages contain permanent records but not every email sent from a government employee is a permanent ...