Archival Values

Related Links
A List of Archival Series
 

Evidence

Each governmental entity is ultimately responsible to the citizens of the state to carry out the functions the citizens have charged the agency with. Evidential records document the fulfillment of that obligation. Records created specifically to serve as evidentiary documents are relatively easy to identify: minutes, policy manuals, and executive directives are a few examples. Other records provide evidence, but were not specifically created for that purpose. For instance, press releases, correspondence, and internal memoranda often have archival value. When evidential records are filed with materials of a more transitory nature they are more difficult to recognize and much more difficult to manage.

Information

State agencies also create or gather data. This data may have enduring value in and of itself. Some data may be used again for a related study or applied in an entirely new way. The Archives and Information Services Division must collect and maintain data as well as evidential records in order to fulfill its function to provide historical materials for the study of Texas and Texans. Identifying records that contain information of archival value can be difficult.

The answers to three classes of questions regarding the agency's data determine long-term information value:

  1. Is the information unique?

    Can it be found elsewhere? For instance, did the agency create or gather the data in the series or is some of it duplicated and transcribed from another source? (And, what is the source?) Has the data been published by the agency or others? (Under what title?) Has the data been duplicated and filed with another agency? (What agency?)

  2. In what form is the information?

    Is the data valid and useful? Is the data raw or analyzed? Has any data been removed or concentrated? In general, information in its most summarized and condensed form is preferred over raw data unless the potential for the re-use of the raw data is high.

    Is the data arranged appropriately for further uses?

    Is the data readable?

    Please note: The Library and Archives Commission lacks the resources to maintain archival records in electronic form. If a series of electronic records is archival and it can be printed on alkaline paper or output to microfilm without loss of information, the paper or film can be transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division. If it is not possible or feasible for an agency to output an electronic record to paper or film, the agency must maintain the records and the hardware and software needed to access the records as well as migrate the records to new hardware and software environments to provide continued access in the future.

  3. How important is the data?

    Will researchers now or in the future need to consult the data?

In some situations the Archives and Information Services Division will solicit expert advice from subject specialists in the creating agency, in the affected professions, and in academia before a final determination of long-term information value is made.
 

Page last modified: August 31, 2011