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Archives Electronic Records: Home

The Nevada State Archives is committed to the preservation and accessibility of government records with enduring value, including those created and stored in a digital environment.  State government is increasingly conducting its business electronically.  This presents unique challenges to the Archives to preserve, maintain, and make accessible digital records in our custody.  The Archives must maintain record authenticity, reliability, and trustworthiness over time.  It is not just the responsibility of the Archives, but every governmental agency, at every level,  to be familiar with records management and archival practices, to safeguard the rights and trust of the citizens they serve through the protection and preservation of the records we create.  

What is Digital Preservation?

Digital preservation is the identifying, securing, and providing the means to preserve and ensure ongoing access to electronic  assets or records.  Digital assets/records are those electronic objects that have been identified as having enduring cultural, historical, legal, fiscal, operational, informational and/or evidentiary value to the State of Nevada.  Digital assets/records will be evaluated in accordance with the applicable State Records Retention Schedule, in conjunction with Archival appraisal processes.

Examples of digital assets include word processing documents, spreadsheets, digital publications, or digital images.  Complex application-specific digital assets/records examples are email, websites, databases, and geospatial datasets. 

Digital preservation differs from analog preservation in several ways.  The primary difference is that digital preservation requires active management.  Digital materials that are left unmanaged or migrated for long periods of time are much more likely to degrade beyond recovery.  Unfortunately, this degradation is generally not discovered until there is an attempt to retrieve the item.  Digital preservation is a new and rapidly evolving methodology with standards that are still being created.  Technological obsolesce is an on-going risk that agencies must continue to address through migration strategies.

The State Archives’ Role in Preserving Electronic Records

The State Archives role in the continued preservation of electronic records of enduring historical value is that of a facilitator and steward.  The State Archives staff will coordinate with agencies, to determine the best method of preservation after analysis of the formats, proprietary software, specialized hardware, technological obsolescence, and other considerations.  Once the records have been transferred into the custody of the State Archives, staff will continue to maintain the electronic records to ensure continued access and authenticity of the electronic records.  

Accepted Digital File Formats

The following are the digital formats that the Nevada State Archives will accept.  State government records, regardless of format, must be listed on an approved State Records Retention Schedule, with a disposition of "Permanent: Transfer to State Archives".  Only inactive (records referred to or used less than once per month per cubic foot) that have met their retention requirements will be accepted into the State Archives.  

Formats for long-term or permanent retention must meet the minimum archival requirements including documentation, wide adoption, transparency, self-containment, and use within the archival community, according to archival best practices.  Encrypted or password protected files will not be accepted.  

 

Type of Record

Recommended for Transfer

Not Acceptable for Transfer

Word processing documents

PDF/A-1-3 (.pdf)

PDF (.pdf)

Open Document Text (.odt)

XML

Word, Word Perfect, WordPro

Plain Text Documents

Plain Text 9.txt US-ASCII or UTF-8 encoding

Comma-separated file(.csv) US-ASCII or UTF-8 encoding

Tab-delimited file (.txt)

PDF/A-1-3 or PDF (.pdf) 

Spreadsheets

Open Document Spreadsheet (.ods)

Comma-separated file (.csv)

Tab-delimited file (.txt)

PDF/A-3 or PDF (.pdf)

Excel

Additional information is available in the Functional Requirements for Electronic Records or Archival Guiding Principles

Consider This...

Consider these quick tips:

  • Save electronic records in reliable, open formats such as PDF and PDF/A or Open Document Text.
  • Avoid compression for records which may have historical value or may need to be accessed more than five years in the future; upgrades in computer technology will likely make compressed files more difficult to view in the future.
  • Assume that any documentary material you create is a government record until you have heard otherwise from your agency records officer or the Records Management staff. Follow all applicable laws.
  • Develop retention schedules with the State Records Management office that document what records your office maintains. These are helpful in establishing where records are and how long they must be kept. In a disaster, both of those elements will be important.
  • Avoid splitting copies of electronic records between local workstations and network storage. This will make it more difficult to confirm which constitutes the record copy if a legal challenge arises.
  • Conduct regular reviews of your electronic record holdings. These could occur on an annual basis.
  • Digital content tends to require migration at least once every decade. Consequently, at-risk files or file systems should be identified during regular reviews and migration should be assessed before relevant vendor contracts expire or systems become obsolete.
  • Focus on the security of your network and the rights of your records stored in the cloud. Contracts should explicitly specify that the government retains ownership of any content in the custody of a vendor.
  • Before contracting with a provider of digital records management solutions, consult with the State Records Management staff and ask for references and reach out to others who have used that vendor in the past.

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