Coffee Chat: Email Archiving!

Link to virtual meeting

February 19th 2pm- 3pm EST

Please join the Records Management and College & Universities Sections as they co-host our next coffee chat on the exciting topic of email archiving! Our fabulous chat guides will be Krista Oldham of Clemson University and Jessika Drmacich of Williams College. Come participate, listen, or just observe!

Teasers below!

Krista Oldham, Clemson University

A Record is a Record is a Record. Sound familiar? I bet that if you are a records manager, or have records management responsibilities, you have probably heard this phrase if you haven’t said it yourself. I can certainly say that I’ve used this phrase countless times when speaking with records creators about their digital records-especially email. During that conversation I inform them that emails, like paper records, need to be managed in accordance with federal and state laws and university policies. At some point, I also get to inform them that not all records are valued equally and the ones that, as the University Archivist, I am concerned about are the emails that have enduring value.  After this statement I am usually met with a “Well how do you do that?” or a “Do you have a system in place that takes care of all of that?” My response of late has been “We’re working on that.” Preserving emails is not a small undertaking. Email by its nature presents challenges to archival preservation including the variety of email message formats, message components, and the interrelationships between messages and attachments. Managing email at a large scale presents another significant challenge. Before identifying the technology/application(s) needed and developing workflows for email archiving, archivists and records managers should focus on having policies and partnerships in place to encourage compliance and buy-in from their record creators. For the past six months, the Records Management Team at Clemson University has been doing this type of work. At our next coffee chat I will share my experience and encourage conversation with attendees and their experience nurturing collaborative partnerships for email archiving. 

Jessika Drmacich, Williams College

Effectively navigating email collection, preservation, and access involves extensive work in the beginning of emails’ lifecycle. Institutional cultural change and building effective technical workflows are also crucial. At Williams College, email is considered record of the College as stated in our records policy; however, compliance for email as record is entirely another story (in other words, it’s super hard!). As Records Manager, I work with units helping them identify records and help guide records to their appropriate destination at the end of their life cycle. As digital resources archivist, I create access for and preserve digital materials. With these areas of focus with my work, I decided to start small in my venture to collect email as record. Working with a colleague in IT, we created a sustainable workflow for capturing both MBOX format and PDFs of email as artifact. Also, I worked with administration to be added to various all-campus listservs. This grouping of all-campus emails are now my first *email as record* accession. At our upcoming coffee chat I hope to discuss my own workflows, but also ponder:

  1. Is pdf format enough to capture email as artifact and record?
  2. Creating access for email collections: RATOM, EPADD.
  3. Incorporating access for embargoed emails. Example: preserved emails only available to a small section of campus?
  4. What about cultural shifts? How do we effectively advocate for email to be considered record at private institutions?
  5. Email in the time of Covid: more important than ever. Let’s reflect!

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