Fwd: Record Keeping and Digital Preservation in a Crisis

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Daigle, Bradley J (bjd2b)

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May 5, 2020, 11:11:56 AM5/5/20
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All, 

See the excellent note from our colleagues at the DPC below. I amplify William’s request to share this document in your own networks.

Best,

Bradley

Bradley J. Daigle
Academic Preservation Trust
University of Virginia Library
‘In a crisis the duty to document is not diminished: on the contrary it becomes more essential.’


Begin forwarded message:

From: William Kilbride <william....@dpconline.org>
Subject: Record Keeping and Digital Preservation in a Crisis
Date: May 5, 2020 at 11:02:56 AM EDT
Reply-To: William Kilbride <william....@dpconline.org>

Dear colleagues and friends,
 
In a crisis, the duty to document is not diminished: on the contrary it becomes more essential.
 
That’s the key message the I am setting before policy makers, funders and opinion formers around the world in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
In the last couple of weeks, the International Council on Archives, International Council of Information Commissioners, ARMA, CODATA, Research Data Alliance, UNESCO, the World Data System and the Digital Preservation Coalition have developed a concise, shared and clear statement which we are now promoting through our channels.  So I am writing to ask for your help.
 
We’re calling on governments, businesses, and research institutions around the world to document their decisions and transactions now and for the future. Together we are making three calls to action:
  • Decisions must be documented
  • Records and data should be secured and preserved in all sectors
  • The security, preservation and access to digital content should be facilitated during the shutdown
The full text of this joint statement is below and linked also with translations in French and Spanish.
 
I wonder therefore if I could ask you all, to share this statement widely and to amplify its messages through all the channels appropriate to your context. 
 
I would encourage you to associate yourselves or your organizations publicly with this statement, and to share this message with senior executives in your institutions, professional bodies and opinion formers within your own domain. Where appropriate I would also encourage you to draw this statement to the attention of elected representatives. I have asked DPC staff to include a link to this statement in their email signatures and perhaps that’s something you might consider too. Perhaps you would take time to blog or to tweet your support for the statement, or set aside some precious time to elucidate and elaborate how your work connects to the key message and the calls to action that follow.  Digital preservation has a small but incredibly important role to play in the global response to the global pandemic.
 
With all best wishes,
 
 
William
 
Dr William Kilbride FSA
Executive Director, The Digital Preservation Coalition
 
My email hours are 0800-1000 Monday-Friday
@williamkilbride
0141 330 2252
 
‘In a crisis the duty to document is not diminished: on the contrary it becomes more essential.’
 
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COVID-19: The duty to document does not cease in a crisis, it becomes more essential. 
 
We, the signatories of this statement, call on governments, businesses, and research institutions around the world to document their decisions and transactions now and for the future. 
 
Building on the UNESCO communique  ‘Turning the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity for greater support to documentary heritage’ and reinforcing the call that decision-makers in the public and private sectors recognise the value of records management and archives, the statement has three calls to action:  
 
Decisions must be documented 
Sound records management is more important than ever with governments taking unprecedented steps to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Important decisions are being made by governments involving huge interventions in markets, healthcare and the daily lives of billions of people as they seek to secure the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of their populations and uphold the rule of law. 
 
The pandemic is showing the benefits of access to large and small scale data to inform decision-making, but this does not reduce the need to contextualise records (i.e. paper documents, data, algorithms, code, audio-visual), nor does it exempt governments from documenting their data analysis processes or capturing critical information. 
 
It is essential that the basis of those decisions, the decisions themselves and the senior decision-makers involved are thoroughly documented in order for governments to remain accountable both during and after the emergency and for future generations to be able to learn from our actions. 
In these current circumstances, records may be at risk as new ways of working are rapidly adopted without the usual processes and infrastructure. 
Urgent steps should be taken to address recordkeeping in ephemeral technologies that have to be deployed rapidly.
 
Records and data should be secured and preserved in all sectors 
The duty to document does not only rest with governments, but also with commercial, research and educational institutions.
 
The impacts of the pandemic will be far reaching, and all organisations need to be cognisant of the importance of proper data and records management. Commercial entities will need essential records to be maintained for the continuity of operations, to evidence rights and entitlements, but also to be able to apply for government subsidies.  
 
Research and educational institutions, especially those involved in tracing the disease, mapping and analysing the pathogen’s genome to develop vaccines, must ensure that their records and data are accurate and properly maintained. 
 
The existence of proper documentation practices will enable not only business continuity, research and innovation, but also the evidence of how this crisis was managed for future generations. Archives are the custodians of the 1918 influenza pandemic records, which are being studied by scientists around the world and these institutions will eventually be the stewards for records related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
The economic and societal impact of the current pandemic needs to be evidenced, not only to prevent and/or anticipate similar events but to understand the effect this event will have on current and future generations. 
 
The security, preservation and access to digital content should be facilitated during the shutdown
The ability to study the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to prevent other such events, requires the existence of records management services and archives, otherwise records and data will not be generated and captured in ways that will enable their preservation and access, now or in the future. Records and archives are more than paper documents marked ‘official record’ – records and recordkeepers deal with increasingly complex digital materials such as algorithms and rough or raw data. 
 
As the economic impact of COVID-19 is felt around the world, it will also be critical to secure, capture and preserve the records of defunct companies and/or private entities. This way, the social, cultural and even economic significance of former undertakings can live on. 
 
Just as it is essential to have global agreements on reporting standards, specifications and definitions (as in the Sendai Framework), so it is necessary for archives to be recognised and resourced as the custodians of the raw data that underpins composite data or reported information. The duty to document this information does not cease in a crisis, it becomes more essential than ever.
 
ICA, ICIC, ARMA, CODATA, DPC, RDA, UNESCO MoW, WDS
May 2020


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