This paper aims to focus on a highly significant yet under-recognised concern: the huge growth in the volume of digital archival information and the implications of this shift for information professionals.
Though data loss and format obsolescence are often considered to be the major threats to digital records, the problem of scale remains under-acknowledged. This paper discusses this issue, and the challenges it brings using a case study of a set of Second World War service records.
TNA’s research has shown that it is possible to digitise large volumes of records to replace paper originals using rigorous procedures. Consequent benefits included being able to link across large data sets so that further records could be released.
The authors will discuss whether the technical capability, plus space and cost savings will result in increased pressure to retain, and what this means in creating a feedback-loop of volume.
The work also has implications in terms of new definitions of the “original” archival record. There has been much debate on challenges to the definition of the archival record in the shift from paper to born-digital. The authors will discuss where this leaves the digitised “original” record.
Large volumes of digitised and born-digital records are starting to arrive in records and archive stores, and the implications for retention are far wider than simply digital preservation. By sharing novel research into the practical implications of large-scale data retention, this paper showcases potential issues and some approaches to their management.
© 2014 Crown copyright. This article is published with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's printer for Scotland
Johnson, V., Ranade, S. and Thomas, D. (2014), "Size matters: The implications of volume for the digital archive of tomorrow – a case study from the UK national archives", Records Management Journal, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 224-237. https://doi.org/10.1108/RMJ-01-2014-0004
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