October 8, 2010 -- The Best Practices Exchange (external link), an annual gathering of state archivists, librarians and others with an interest in the preservation of government digital information, held its fifth annual meeting September 28-October 1 in Phoenix, Az. A special focus of the meeting was upon the four Library of Congress state government information projects supported under the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.
About 200 people from 40 states and territories attended the meeting, which featured interactive small-group sessions as well as plenary presentations. The BPE gatherings are intended to help digital preservation practitioners learn about the latest practical developments in the field and to enable in-depth discussion of common challenges, needs and solutions. "Unlike most other conferences," writes blogger l'Archivista, BPE is "informal and focused on lessons learned." Her blog features fine summaries of day 1 (external link) and day 2 (external link) of the meeting.
Archivist of the U.S. David Ferriero and Associate Librarian of Congress Laura Campbell provided keynote addresses. Ferriero talked broadly about issues relating to the National Archives and Records Administration, including use of social media to interact with the public and efforts to bring about culture change within the agency.
Campbell told attendees that the Library views state archives and libraries as important stakeholders. She made it clear that NDIIPP intends to continue working closely with the states in efforts to expand collaboration, develop new tools and services and build a national collection of digital content. She also said that a key goal was to involve all 50 states in NDIIPP activities.
Representatives from each of the four NDIIPP states projects talked about results and next steps. Together, the projects work with 35 states to collect and preserve publications, geospatial data, legislative records, executive agency documents, and other digital information of long-term value. A key aspect of the initiative is to develop tools, services and practices that all states can use, and the conference served as a forum to share results.
Arizona leads the Persistent Digital Archives and Library System
The goal of PeDALS is to develop a shared curatorial framework for the preservation of digital public records such as agency publications and court records; the project uses the Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe (external link) preservation technology.
Minnesota leads A Model Technological and Social Architecture for the Preservation of State Government Digital Information
The project is working with legislatures in several states to explore enhanced access to legislative digital records. This will involve implementing a trustworthy information management system and testing the capacity of different states to adopt the system for their own use. Content will include bills, committee reports, floor proceedings and other legislative materials.
North Carolina is in charge of the Geospatial Multistate Archive and Preservation Project
It is exploring ways to expand the capabilities of state governments to provide long-term access to geospatial data documenting property ownership, land use and other aspects of the physical environment. The project is bringing together geospatial and archival staff in multiple states to identify, preserve, and make available temporal and superseded digital geospatial data with ongoing value.
Washington State directs the Multi-State Preservation Consortium
This project is developing a centralized regional repository for state and local digital information. By implementing a cost-effective interstate technological archiving system, the project plans to demonstrate a scalable approach to preserving and making available at-risk digital government information. Content will include vital records, land ownership and use documentation, court records and Web-based state and local government reports.
The BPE meetings are hosted on a voluntary basis. One indication of success for the Phoenix meeting is that three different states expressed a strong interest in hosting the next gathering in 2011. A conference committee will review proposals and make a selection within the next several months.