Digital Preservation and Access

The State Archives of North Carolina has developed a comprehensive set of policies, guidelines, and best practice documents to help agencies and local governments address the preservation of and access to electronic records. These documents are designed to help agencies and government conform to the records retention and disposition requirements set forth by the State Archives of North Carolina.

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Digital Preservation Guidelines

This document outlines the operation, management, and scope of the North Carolina digital preservation program, established by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in accordance with state law that authorizes the State Archives of North Carolina and State Library of North Carolina to collect and preserve state government information for public access. The program, which supports the preservation and access of authentic digital records throughout their entire lifecycle, provides for strategic decisions about technology and workflows as well as formal structures whereby those records are made available to citizens as part of North Carolina’s heritage.

Best Practices for Digital Permanence

Electronic records have a life cycle that includes the creation, management, use, and disposition or longer term retention of the digital object. Preserving a digital record throughout this life cycle presents unique challenges for records creators and users. This document discusses the threats to digital materials and strategies for digital records preservation and access, covering the following topics: relevant North Carolina statutes, discussion on the permanence of electronic records, threats to digital records, types of digital media, and how to preserve a digital record through its life cycle.

Archival Process for Data and Image Preservation: The Management and Preservation of Digital Media

This document serves to provide guidance and best practices to both the creators and the custodians of electronic records who wish to maintain the information over time. 

Protect Your DVDs and CDs

DVDs and CDs are not a recommended preservation format. They are, however, adequate for everyday access copies for government records. The document above provides technical information for making your office's DVDs and CDs last longer. Published April - June 2003.

Human-Readable Preservation Duplicates

Offices with permanent records shall create a preservation duplicate of those records as described in §132-8.2: "Preservation duplicates shall be durable, accurate, complete and clear..." It is the Department's policy that preservation duplicates should be either a paper or microfilm copy of the original records. Permanent records with certain characteristics require preservation duplicates that are human-readable. The "Human-Readable Preservation Duplicates" policy outlines these characteristics and appropriate formats for human-readable preservation duplicates. This and other imaging documentation is available on the Imaging Records page.

Digital Signature Policy Guidelines

This document serves as a policy guide for the use of electronic signatures. It provides information on the following: State and Federal legislation on the use of electronic records and e-signatures; definition of e-signatures; expectations and goals for instituting an e-signature system; potential challenges including security and privacy; cloud storage; and electronic records management; business and legal considerations

DocuSign® How-to Guide

This document serves as a how-to guide for the use of DocuSign® e-signature platform. This guide is specific to the vendor product, DocuSign®.

Guidelines for Managing Trustworthy Digital Public Records

This document provides guidance to state, county, and municipal government agencies for establishing methods and procedures for creating and maintaining authentic records in digital formats according to the type of records produced and the length of time the records should be retained. These guidelines are designed to ensure the admissibility of an agency’s electronic records into evidence in a court of law. A critical need by government agencies for more efficient methods of creation, storage, and retrieval of public records has led to the adoption of varied software and information technology systems for creating, managing, and storing records in a digital format. While the advantages of such systems are many, the complexity of safeguarding the integrity of records has increased, requiring greater attention to issues relating to security, accuracy, reliability, and accountability. These guidelines provide all levels of government within North Carolina direction in establishing methods and procedures for creating or maintaining trustworthy records produced by information technology systems.

Sample Electronic Records and Imaging Policy for Use by Local Agencies

The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources requires any agency that images its records or maintains electronic records with retention periods of ten or more years to create and sign an Electronic Records and Imaging Policy. The Electronic Records Policy is designed to be used as a self‐evaluation tool to ensure that electronic records produced by county and municipal agencies are able to be retained for the designated retention period and are created, reproduced, and otherwise managed in accordance with the above guidelines and with other guidance produced by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The Electronic Records and Imaging Policy replaces the former Self-Warranty Form.

Metadata as a Public Record in North Carolina: Best Practices Guidelines for Its Retention and Disposition

This document is intended to offer guidance to government employees about the management and retention of metadata under North Carolina’s public records laws and state and federal discovery rules for civil litigation. The goal is to provide information and guidance for public employees to understand their responsibilities and liabilities related to metadata.

File Format Guidelines for Management and Long-Term Retention of Electronic Records

This document provides detailed information about appropriate file formats for state and local agencies responsible for maintaining electronic records long term. It is a companion document to File Formats for Transfer of Electronic Records to the State Archives of North Carolina, which is intended for agencies transferring records into the State Archives Digital Repository. See the State Archives Digital Repository page for more information about policies and tools for transferring data into the Digital Repository.

Best Practices for File-Naming

The document and video series above can help make you and your office more efficient with a few simple rules for file naming. Just like paper files, electronic files need to be well-organized and labeled correctly so that they are identifiable and accessible by all employees. This is especially important for government offices in order to comply with legal requirements to ensure the availability, integrity, accessibility, and, if appropriate, the confidentiality of public records. G.S §132-8.1 provides that each agency shall establish and maintain an active, continuing program for the economical and efficient management of records of that agency.