The Electronic Records Unit is dedicated to the acquisition, management, long-term preservation and accessibility of records created in electronic systems. Electronic records by their very nature, have a short shelf life. Unless procedures are in place to manage and preserve electronic records, preferably from the point of creation, there is little chance of their being accessible after thirty years.
In the United Kingdom, the ‘30 year rule’ relating to the transfer of government records to the National Archives has recently been amended to a 20 year rule. However, for electronic records, appraisal occurs five years from the point of creation. It is hoped that amended legislation here in Ireland will also allow the National Archives to appraise electronic records created by government departments within five years from the point of creation. Records deemed worthy of archival preservation will then be either transferred to the National Archives or measures will be taken in Government Departments to ensure their long-term preservation and accessibility, prior to eventual transfer to the National Archives.
Such actions will secure Ireland’s digital heritage, facilitate accountability and ensure the availability and accessibility of our digital heritage for future generations. For the National Archives to actually assume ownership of electronic records from Government Departments, procedures and systems must be in place to enable us to manage and preserve these records and this is an issue which we need to address. At present, we are preparing a digital preservation policy which aims to set out the scope for such a project. This policy, when finalised, will be published on our website.
For queries regarding electronic records, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.