Late last month, CoSA President Matt Blessing submitted the following comments to NHPRC representing views expressed by our members at the Annual Meeting Work Session in Austin and in various committee and board meetings:
NHPRC Draft Strategic Plan
Comments from the Council of State Archivists
The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) endorses the efforts of NARA and,
specifically the NHPRC, to expand access to the nation’s historical records. It
appreciates the opportunity to provide feedback for the proposed NHPRC Strategic
• CoSA encourages NHPRC to aid the nation’s archives and historical records
repositories to fund and develop open source tools to enhance the abilities of
institutions to provide efficient on-line access to permanent records and historical
• CoSA believes that the future of access and the publishing of historical records,
manuscripts and documentary editions is primarily, though not exclusively, online.
The work of the NHPRC and its grant projects should be designed to
maximize access by the public to the products created from the Commission’s
grants – which is now best provided through the Internet.
• CoSA understands that to in order to provide online access, collections and
records need to be processed, providing the organizational foundation for digital
• The State Archives community concurs with the four objectives listed in the draft
strategic plan in the Expand Access section.
ENGAGE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE:
• CoSA encourages NHPRC to aid the nation’s archives and historical records
repositories to fund and develop adaptable open source tools to provide crowdsourcing
programs to allow mass indexing and transcription of historical records.
• CoSA suggests that NARA/NHPRC engagement with the American people
include efforts to provide awareness of the role and value of archives.
• CoSA appreciates having the State Boards provide educational training for
Citizen Archivists. We recommend that the State Board training programs
include the training of volunteers, professionals, and allied staff in varied archival
• CoSA and its members look forward to defining the collaboration of grassroots
projects with state boards.
• We propose that NHPRC work with CoSA to develop regional State Board
training and mentoring programs to strengthen all State Boards and better
engage the individual members.
• CoSA supports the three goals listed in the engage the American people section
of the plan.
• CoSA would propose that NHPRC consider allowing national professional
associations (NAGARA, SAA, and CoSA) to apply for and receive electronic
records grants to provide regional and national level resources to address
specific issues which some governments cannot individually address.
• CoSA encourages NHPRC to continue to provide assistance to develop and
strengthen the records management, preservation, and access programs of
electronic records at the state and local level.
• CoSA supports the four goals listed in the leadership through the National
• CoSA proposes that NHPRC work to strengthen the role and resources of the
State Boards. Specifically we recommend that the State Boards:
> Be encouraged to develop strategic plans addressing the historical
records, state archives, and varied statewide archival needs of the state or
> Be utilized as mechanisms to advocate and educate the public about the
role, importance and mission of archives.
• CoSA proposes that NHPRC recommend term limits be established for serving
on the State Boards at three consecutive terms, or 12 consecutive years, to keep
the State Boards vibrant.
• CoSA supports the goals outlined by NHPRC in the section related to
NHPRC Grants (1976-2015) by States
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Alabama: Gary Palmer $1,117,542
Arizona: Paul Gosar $2,447,479
Colorado: Ken Buck $1,187,770
Florida: John Mica $2,391,979
Georgia: Jody Hice $4,283,921
Iowa: Rob Blum $1,630,950
Kentucky: Thomas Massie $2,564,055
Michigan: Tim Walberg $3,343,122
North Carolina: Mark Meadows $4,735,080
Ohio: Mike Turner $1,745,037
Oklahoma: Steve Russell $1,586,867
South Carolina: Trey Gowdy $5,603,551
Tennessee: John Duncan $8,117,506
Texas: Blake Farenthold $4,839,545
Utah: Jason Chaffetz, Chairman $807,493
Wisconsin: Glenn Grothman $8,991,158
Wyoming: Cynthia Lummis $1,053,723
California: Ted Lieu $17,320,993
District of Columbia: Eleanor Holmes Norton $16,575,193
Illinois: Tammy Duckworth $9,344,635
Maryland: Elijah Cummings $9,365,756
Massachusetts: Stephen Lynch $13,466,801
Michigan: Brenda Lawrence $3,343,122
Missouri: Lacy Clay $2,200,251
New Jersey: Bonnie Coleman $9,197,112
New Mexico: Michelle Lujan Grisham $1,710,153
New York: Carolyn Maloney $21,387,437
Pennsylvania: Matt Cartwright $5,820,146
Tennessee: Jim Cooper $8,117,506
Vermont: Peter Welch $876,628
Virgin Islands: Stacey Plaskett $179,107
Virginia: Gerry Connolly $16,034,570
CoSA Board Elections: Joining the board for a three-year term are: John Dougan (MO), Chelle Somsen (SD), and Jack Warner (MA). Officers for 2015-16 are: Matt Blessing (WI), President; Patricia Smith-Mansfield (UT), VP/President-elect; and Steve Murray (AL), Secretary-Treasurer.
Work Session: Sponsored by Ancestry, the annual Work Session is an opportunity for members to discuss CoSA organizational issues and hear updates on advocacy activities, NHPRC news, and upcoming professional development opportunities. This year’s Work Session also featured presentations by Dorothy Fouche (AL) and Felicia Lujan (NM), our CoSA-Ancestry Leadership Award recipients.
Member/Award Recipient Dinner: Fifty members and friends joined in a convivial evening celebrating this year’s award recipients.
SHRAB Box Lunch: Kathleen Williams, NHPRC Executive Director, and Dan Stokes, State Program Director, presented information and updates regarding SHRAB responsibilities, future directions, and funding programs. We celebrated the SHRAB 40th anniversary with a delicious red velvet cake! Thank you to Gaylord Archival for helping to sponsor the beverages and cake for this event!
Business Meeting: CoSA wrapped up its events with its annual business meeting where financial and committee reports were recapped.
Silent Auction: More than $1200 was raised to support CoSA programming from silent auction donors who bid on a terrific variety of items donated by members, friends and staff. A special thank you to Ancestry for donating memberships and DNA kits; and to Gaylord Archival and University Products for their donations of gift certificates. Lots of interest and heavy bidding for chocolates, coffee nuts from Hawaii; tuna from American Samoa; rum from the Virgin Islands and Kentucky bourbon! If you were a bidder, we hope you got what you wanted!
What is Electronic Records Day?
E-records Day is a day to raise awareness among government agencies, related professional organizations, the general public and other stakeholders about the crucial role electronic records play in our world.
Why does it matter?
With the increasing reliance on information technology, the challenge to manage, preserve, and provide access to digital records and information continues to grow. Managing electronic records is an urgent issue!
Electronic records are subject to changes in software and hardware that can leave them virtually inaccessible after just a few years, if not monitored.
Electronic records require proactive management. The best time to plan for electronic records preservation is at the time records are created, rather than when software is being replaced or a project is ending.
Electronic records should be evaluated according to their information content, not their format, and be subject to the same retention schedules and public records requirements as physical records.
Paper records stored in good conditions can be read centuries afterwards; electronic records, however, can become unreadable very quickly, without proper management and care.
Top tips for government agencies working with electronic records
- Consult your records retention schedule: Know what retention periods have been approved and take appropriate actions (e.g. transfer to the State Archives, destroy, etc.) when the retention period for your records has been met.
- Plan ahead in ERM system design: Talk to an archivist, records manager, and other stakeholders; determine the possibilities for system adherence to retention and disposition guidelines.
- You’ve got to have standards: Ensure you have a trusted system and that your records are authentic.
- Organization is key: Who’s in charge of the shared file? Are people using email as a filing cabinet rather than a communication tool? Which copy is the record copy?
- Make the rules: Naming conventions, file organization, and disposition strategies all help now and in the long term. Make the rules known and follow them.
- Do you have backup? Does your backup system work? How well will it actually restore your e-records? Can you retrieve individual items? Consider off-site storage.
- Understand metadata: It’s data about your data (and helps your records live long and prosper).
- Keep the content, context, and structure: How can you keep all three of these characteristics viable for your records? Hint: metadata helps!
- Do you have built-in strategies? Can you migrate your e-records? Transfer them to the archives?
- Does delete mean delete? E-records proliferate easily. Do you have a plan to manage deletion of all copies that should be deleted? E-discovery will include all files.
- Think before you scan: Standards, worthiness, naming conventions, storage, and retrieval (among other things) should be considered before you turn that scanner on for the most efficient and useful results.
August 27th Webinar Seeks SHRAB Member Input for NHPRC Strategic Plan
Sponsored by CoSA
3 – 4 pm Eastern
SHRAB Coordinators: Please circulate this email to your SHRAB board members. Thank you!
SHRAB members and coordinators are invited to join Kathleen Williams, NHPRC Executive Director, and Dan Stokes, Director of State Programs, in a special webcast conversation about the future of the SHRAB program. Your ideas, information and concerns are needed and welcome!
As NHPRC gathers input on all of its programs and services for its next strategic plan, the role of the SHRABs is a key element. Now in its 40th year, the SHRAB program has provided state and territorial archives with critical support on a variety of fronts. What does its future look like? Kathleen and Dan want to hear from you!
Because the deadline at NHPRC for stakeholder input is September 15th, CoSA determined that a webinar focused solely on the SHRABs is in order this month.
To reserve your place for this webinar, please register here by Wednesday, August 26th.
NHPRC Planning Goals
The preliminary strategic planning goals have been identified. They are:
1. Expand access to the nation’s historical records.
The primary role of the Commission is to provide opportunities for the American people to discover and use records that increase understanding of our democracy, history, and culture. To that end, the National Archives funds projects that publish collections of historical records—including documentary editions in print and online versions and digital editions online. Several challenges have arisen during this transitional period, and the Commission will use its regular programming and seek new funding to:
- Support multiple levels of access leading to online access and to open access
- Promote the development and use of standards for online publishing of collections
- Identify historically significant collections in need of a national initiative for full online access
- Partner with and support collaborative and collective projects for long-term sustainability of digital resources
2. Engage the American people in preserving the American record.
A key challenge ahead is to help grantees engage directly with people in their communities and online. Along with efforts for greater public engagement, archives are encouraging people to learn critical thinking skills and basic research techniques when seeking and using historical records in both analog and digital formats. The National Archives has enlisted Citizen Archivists in crowdsourcing, and the Commission will seek to broaden that practice and to:
- Encourage new organizational methods for crowdsourcing for historical records
- Promote educational/training efforts for Citizen Archivists at other archives
- Collaborate with state boards on local & statewide grassroots projects
3. Provide leadership through the National Archives.
The National Archives plays a key national leadership role in developing and promoting best practices, model programs, and partnerships among the nation’s vast network of archives and documentary editing projects. Through the Commission, the National Archives seeks to:
- Build state partnerships around key needs, such as electronic records management
- Continue to support professional development opportunities for archivists and documentary editors
- Fund research, development, & dissemination of best practices
- Collaborate with other funders on initiatives and programs
4. Adapt Commission practices to extend its reach and leverage.
The Commission seeks to encourage a more inclusive pool of applicants that represents the rich diversity of America’s culture and history. To that end, it will seek ways to demonstrate the public impact of its programming and to improve its internal management processes to:
- Streamline its application and review processes
- Clarify language re “national significance” to encourage a wider pool of applicants
- Strengthen the connection of its grants program to the imprimatur of the National Archives