Bits Decay: Do Something Today!

IDPD17 LogoJoin the UN Archives (ARMS) in celebrating International Digital Preservation Day this November 30th. This event is organized by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC), of which ARMS is a member. On November 30th, the DPC will be unveiling their list of “Digitally Endangered Species” – a crowd-sourced list of the digital materials at most risk, according to archive, library and records management practitioners.

The Archives has collections dating back to the 1890s, and each wave of technological innovation has brought its own set of challenges. Ink fades, reel-to-reel tapes become demagnetized, and does anyone have a VHS player or floppy disc reader lying around anymore? These issues are dwarfed by the ever-expanding universe of digital material applications, which are updated, outdated and replaced quicker than they can be preserved. With much of our work now being done via computers, smartphones and tablets, it is essential that archive programmes around the world, and especially here at the United Nations, create and implement systems that will save this information from inaccessibility. Equally important is ensuring that the preservation, authenticity and reliability of each document is ensured. 

It’s tempting to believe that since digital storage is cheap and seemingly endless, that everything you create in your work life will last forever. Unfortunately, secure digital storage can be financially prohibitive, and finding specific information can be difficult, if not impossible. Fortunately, most digital records can be managed much in the same way that you manage paper files – by using ARMS’ guide on Managing Electronic Information and Records in Shared Drives, for example, you can easily know which digital records should be transferred to the Archives for preservation. As more and more digital records are transferred to ARMS, they are being preserved for long term storage, accessibility and use.

Want to know more? Keep an eye out for celebrations across the globe on Twitter, read our Records Management Guidance Series, or stop by the archives to chat with our team.

A sample of the various formats in the archives - and these are just a small percent of our (largely paper) collections! #idpd17