The ePADD open-source email archiving and processing platform developed by Stanford University Libraries was awarded a $685,000 National Leadership Grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) on August 31. The software “supports archival processes around the appraisal, ingest, processing, discovery, and delivery of email archives,” according to the project site.
The privacy and access challenges of archives containing electronic communications of enduring historical value are addressed in the Libraries’ latest release of ePADD.
Despite rapid growth of email use since its inception 40 years ago, and the increasing presence of email within research collections, the vast majority of email archives of modern historical figures remain inaccessible to researchers. Repositories that seek to make email content available for research face significant copyright and privacy issues and can be daunted by the sheer volume of email transferred.
Despite the occasional death knell claims, email is alive, well and exponentially thriving in many organizations. It’s become an increasingly complex challenge for collecting and memory institutions as we struggle with the same issues: How is email processed differently from other collections? Are there donor issues specific to email? What are the legal or regulations surrounding email records for cultural heritage institutions? Are there standard preservation file formats for email? How can we make email archives available for research?
The view that a legal team takes on how long emails/ email accounts should be retained varies from organisation to organisation. Here are two examples I have come across in the past couple of years:
The main differences between the e-mail policy of the US National Archives (NARA) and those of the national archives of Australia, Canada and the UK, are that:
* NARA would rather accession and permanently preserve the contents of the e-mail accounts of senior federal civil servants than have those e-mail accounts routinely deleted.
* NARA does not insist US federal agencies move significant correspondence out of their e-mail environment into a separate records system
Literary fans and academics have always been fascinated by the way author's private papers and correspondence inform and influence their creative output. But with far fewer letters flying between men and women of letters these days, digital files, especially email exchanges, are becoming more and more important.
At the end of last month, the British Library acquired the poet Wendy Cope's archive including its largest cache of an author's email to date: 40,000 emails written since 2004.
This Memorandum reinforces the importance for each agency to manage their email properly and the need for all Federal employees to be aware of their responsibilities for managing email records. As you know, this has been an important issue for Congress and the Administration over the last few months. It is also an animating issue as we continue to work towards the goal in the Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M-12-18) that all email be managed electronically by the end of 2016.
Letters, memos, telegrams, postcards: such items have long been the stock-in-trade for archives. Historians and researchers of all types, while mindful of the challenges in using correspondence, value it as a source for the insider perspective it provides on real-time events. For this reason, the library and archives community must find effective ways to identify, preserve and provide access to email and other forms of electronic correspondence.
Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, London
from The Signal - What solution you choose depends, in the first instance, on whether you’re an individual or an institution. NDIIPP offers some high-level guidance for email archiving tailored to individuals (and smaller organizations) as part of our personal archiving tips, but this represents only one possible approach to an email archiving methodology. There are solutions available to individuals (including free ones), though some require more active management and resource allocation (that is, $$$) than others.