In the last section of this New York State Archives’ webinar on Preserving Electronic Records in Colleges and Universities, we will try to sum up some of the key points we discussed in earlier sections. You are encouraged to go back and review specific sections as a refresher as well as look through the supplemental handout included with this webinar. Remember that the goal of your preservation efforts is to ensure the use and accessibility of information in a record within the proper context for that record’s full retention period. The goal is similar, whether we are talking about hard copy records or electronic. A key differentiating factor is the shift in responsibilities and activities needed by archivists, record managers, and librarians and others tasked with the responsibility for preserving electronic records. You need to know more about the front end of the process, on how records were created. Traditionally, you did not have to worry about this as much. You received the hard copy records in a paper format. You did not know if they were created in Microsoft Word or output from a database. You will also need the help of others, so it is important to develop partnerships with other departments such as IT, legal, as well as outside your institution for assistance as needed. You most likely will need to learn more about key technologies. The bottom line is you cannot do it alone and that you must rely on help from others. Be practical and know the realities you face. You most likely will never have all the resources you need. You will want or need more space, staff and a bigger budget than what you have today. You know the issues and challenges you faced with the paper world so expect the same in many cases or sometimes worse. For example, if the users did a poor job managing paper records, expect the same with electronic records. Stress the business case for preserving digital records to help get the buy-in from departments into your program. Are they willing to assume the risks on their own? And remember that there is no single best strategy to follow and that many times you will need multiple strategies and approaches to reach you goals. The three fundamentals for electronic records preservation is to ensure the readability of your data. Are the records stored on the proper media, in the proper formats using the needed software and hardware in order to view this information well into the future? Are you following an authoritative and trustworthy process, including the transfer and overall management of the process? Are the records stored within a secure and reliable repository to prevent unwanted access without restricting those authorized users to access the content themselves? Some other key points we discussed include remembering that technology is only one part of the challenge. You still have the organizational challenges just like the paper world, including working with limited available resources. With the greater reliance we all have on electronic records, we are seeing more and more records being created digitally and remaining digital throughout their individual lifecycles. No longer will some records be output to paper. I know it sounds like a broken record, but we have to constantly be making others aware of the issues and risks they may face in retaining and preserving records long term. We have to make others aware of the issues affecting future readability of the records such as the media, format, and software and hardware devices. We discussed some of the existing standards related to electronic records preservation and some other institutions’ efforts. I encourage you to examine the handout as well as visit some of the web sites of the institutions mentioned in this webinar for more information. Find out more about what plans exist for disaster prevention and recovery and how they relate to your area. Talk with other institutions about their plans and potential assistance they may be able to provide you. Any activity related to disaster recovery should be coordinated with other emergency responders within your institution as well as other supporting organizations and governments in your area. Earlier, we discussed the six key steps to consider when preserving electronic records including: the planning phase, which involves gathering the needed support and developing your initial strategy and targeted areas within your institution. Performing an inventory to find out what is out there and what formats and systems you may have to work with. Once you know what is out there, analyze what you found to help you refine your strategy and processes. Based on your inventory and analysis, now is the time to design the specific processes and procedures to support your work. This includes the IT infrastructure you may need, some of which may already be in place, with the help of your IT department. The implementation plan includes determining your pilot group and what records they have that you will focus on initially. And then there is the on-going activities including continuing to build the awareness by educating users and departments of your efforts and the risks they face if they try to do it on their own. While some like to use the term best practices, I like to think in terms of better practices. Sometimes the best solution is not feasible for your particular institution or needs. So if you can implement a better solution than what you have in place now, that may be all that is needed, or at least it should lower the risk now if no action is taken. To move your efforts further along and make your job a little bit easier later on, it is important that your institution develop good electronic records management practices, outside of your preservation efforts. Managing electronic records centrally following consistent policies and procedures at the creation point and “saving” point will reduce a lot of leg work later on in the records lifecycle. Following your institution’s established retention schedule obviously applies to electronic records, as well as hard copy records. Often people think there are different retention schedules just because a record is electronic, and that is not the case. During the creation process, users should follow basic classification procedures including file naming and directory naming to ease the process to identify those files later on. Even though this webinar is on preserving records, it is important that those files that are not required to be retained be destroyed when appropriate. It will make the haystack of electronic files smaller and there will be less to sift through at the end. As we discussed earlier, developing closer working relationships with key departments and administrators is important. Working with IT, legal and others can not only benefit you, but you may also benefit them in the long run. It is important for you to be proactive in your efforts and find out what is out there, before someone comes to you and “dumps” their files or situation they created on you. What are the vulnerable records or what new systems are planned? Know what other institutions are doing and the further developments in best practices and standards. Leveraging and coordinating internal, as well as external resources, will get the most out of your program given the often limited budgets we face. Whatever policies and procedures you set up, they have to be documented and followed. Consistency is key in developing a reliable and authentic process. Educating senior administrators and users is an on-going process. This includes not only the processes you follow, but also the risk they may face if they do not use your services. And remember whatever processes or programs you set up, you have to perform an on-going review, quality control, have the appropriate quality control steps and continuous refining of the process as things change. Although the temptation is to help and do as much as possible, do not over-promise. You won’t be able to do everything. Try to avoid quick fixes since often quick fixes remain in place for many years to come. Other events pop up that take your focus away from longer term solutions to replace those quick fixes. Your records are long term so focus on long term solutions. And avoid using bleeding edge technology and work with only established technologies that are widely used. Ok, so now when you get back to your office, what are some of the action items you are going to do to help in your institution’s electronic records preservation efforts? Before you get wrapped up back into your other duties, take a moment and write down a list of some of the steps you need to take. Of course you will have questions. You are encouraged to talk with the New York State Archives, as well as review the resources contained in the supplemental handout to assist in your efforts. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this webinar and good luck with your electronic preservation efforts!