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Email as cultural heritage resource: appraisal solutions from an art museum context

Anthony Cocciolo (Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science, New York, New York, USA)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 21 March 2016




The purpose of this study is to evaluate strategies to appraise email correspondence to select significant email for permanent preservation without capturing trivial or personal emails. The strategies were tested on the actual email accounts of selected individuals occupying important roles within an important cultural institution in the Northeastern USA.


Treating this art museum as a case study site, email messages are manually appraised for retention using a rubric. Following the appraisal, strategies for expediting this appraisal process, using what is learned from the manual appraisal process, are explored.


A major finding of this study is that sent mail is almost always significant, although preserving only sent mail, or preserving sent mail in combination with inbox items that have been acted upon (replied to or forwarded), are not sufficient to capture significant correspondence. Rather, a social network approach holds the most promise to accelerate the process of email appraisal.


This study provides empirically grounded strategies for appraising email for permanent retention.



Cocciolo, A. (2016), "Email as cultural heritage resource: appraisal solutions from an art museum context", Records Management Journal, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 68-82.



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