The State Record

July 1998

A Semi-Annual Newsletter of the

State and Local Records Management Division

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Electronic Records Seminar

Scheduled for RMOs

It was November of last year when I visited a state agency and talked with a records management officer (RMO) and her director. Most of the discussion revolved around records storage and the electronic rules. As I was about to leave, her final comment struck me. �We need some direction from the library on how to make decisions regarding current technology,� she said, �..and some ongoing forum on what our options are. Everybody has questions, but nobody has any answers.�

Within a few months, the consultants began to review and brainstorm the content of our training classes. One class in particular was originally designed to give RMOs some insight into changes in laws, updates on standards, and an opportunity to network with colleagues. It seemed a likely candidate for a special segment on technology options and was split into two classes: State Records Laws and Special Topics Seminars. The first special class is Electronic Records Seminar scheduled July 1. Paul Gulick, from Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock�s office, and Sherry Peel, from the Attorney General�s office, will discuss electronic technology issues and trends for state agencies.

According to Peel, �the posting of government and other corporate and personal records on the Internet is causing lawyers and judges to revise rules of evidence to allow for the introduction of such records into court proceedings. All persons should be more prudent in their use of e-mail, which is now a highly valued source for �smoking gun� information at trial.�

Gulick adds that the biggest issues for government agencies for the next 10 years in the technology area are related to the training, education, and retention of technology staff. �New ways of attracting competent staff to public service will be required to address the technology needs and solve the problems of the future.�

The seminar is free and open to RMOs from state agencies.

by Sue Lawson, government records consultant

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Electronic Records Committee

The primary focus of the ERRC has been to develop recommendations facilitating coordination of efforts to manage electronic records by records management officers and information resource managers.

The Electronic Records Research Committee (ERRC), formed by the Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council (RMICC) to study issues outlined in SB 897.4 (75th Legislative Session), presented its initial draft report to RMICC members June 3.

The ERRC and its four focus groups are composed of state agency records managers, archivists, information technology specialists, and legal experts. The focus groups spent six months identifying statutes, rules, standards, and guidelines already in effect in Texas and gathering information from similar studies done in other states and other countries. The four focus areas include functional requirements for keeping and archiving records in electronic format, standards and policies for keeping and archiving electronic records, cost-effectiveness of keeping and archiving electronic records, and feasibility of making public information readily available in electronic format.

After reviewing the results of the research and discussing options for Texas, the ERRC prepared the initial draft for RMICC�s review. The report consists of a summary of findings, recommendations, and the possible fiscal impact if the recommendations are implemented. The ERRC believes that the authority to make rules for managing electronic records in compliance with standards and legal requirements already lies within the responsibilities of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, the Department of Information Resources, and the Records Management Interagency Coordinating Council.

Although administrative rules have been adopted for government information maintained electronically, there is not a uniform level of knowledge or application of these standards by both records management and information technology staff. Effective management of electronic records is not possible without mutual involvement of both disciplines. Therefore, the primary focus of the ERRC has been to develop recommendations facilitating coordination of efforts to manage electronic records by records management officers and information resource managers.

The ERRC will continue to work with RMICC throughout the summer to refine the report. The final draft is due to RMICC on September 1, 1998. If you would like information about the ERRC and/or the report, please contact Martha Richardson or Elizabeth Love.

Martha Richardson

Department of Information Resources

PO Box 13564

Austin, TX 78711-3564

512-475-4728 512-475-4759 (fax)

Elizabeth Love

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

PO 12927

Austin, TX 78711-2927

512-452-9242, x 163 512-323-6100 (fax)

by Martha Richardson, Department of Information Resources

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Digital Imaging Services

COLD - Computer Output to Laser Disk and Digital Archive Writer

Information technology is revolutionizing our concept of recordkeeping in an upheaval as great as the introduction of printing, if not writing itself. The current generation of digital records has unique historical significance. Yet these documents are far more fragile than paper, placing the chronicle of our entire period in jeopardy.1 �Jeff Rosenberg

The Imaging Services unit of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is currently offering two types of digital imaging services to state and local governments.

These include computer output to laser disk (COLD) services that convert computer output to CD-recordable and a Digital Archive Writer that converts scanned, bit-mapped images to film. Governments may utilize these services in the following manner:

Computer output to laser disk (COLD)�Agencies would use this service to better manage computer reports that are either difficult to use in their present mainframe or paper environment or are taking up much needed mainframe/server storage space. These reports are typically very large and generated on a weekly/monthly basis. Software provided by TSLAC would enable agencies to retrieve this information without having to purchase a software license�the data and retrieval software are resident on the CD.

By offloading these reports to print tape and sending them to be converted to COLD by TSLAC imaging services, agencies could

  • Reduce the cost of operations (labor, material and disk space). A single CD can hold up to 250,000 pages of easily retrievable data. This is more cost effective than printing the report.
  • Improve information access. (Retrieval software is on CD).
  • Improve productivity. (Data mining available using COLD).
  • Leverage the current investment in computer hardware (example: CD drives are in almost all PCs today).

Digital Archive Writer�Agencies would use this service to convert scanned images to archival microfilm. This would enable an agency to image permanent/vital records and back them up on a human readable, archival medium�microfilm. The threat of technology obsolescence is one reason to use this service�sort of an insurance policy against losing records because of rapidly changing technology.

For questions regarding these services, please e-mail Tim Nolan at

By Tim Nolan, Imaging Services Consultant


1 Rosenberg, Jeff. �Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents.� Scientific American. January 1995. 42-47.

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