March 18, 2010 -- The Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records (external link) has developed an automated process to preserve official e-mail records produced by Microsoft Outlook. The process also captures metadata needed for the long-term preservation of the information.
This work is taking place as part of the Persistent Digital Archives and Library System project, which is developing a shared curatorial framework for preserving digital public records across multiple states.
"We are very excited to have the capability to preserve large quantities of e-mail records," said project director Richard Pearce-Moses. "Some collections, such as elected official’s and agency director’s email records, are valuable for both government transparency and scholarly research." At the same time, this work has raised significant issues regarding the balance between access and statutorily required restrictions to protect privacy. Pearce-Moses noted, "Because so many people – both in government and the general public – treat email less formally, the messages often contain information of a very personal nature."
The PeDALS project is supported by the a Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.