National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

2015-03-03

British Columbia Government Information Act begins second reading in Legislative Assembly

Update for March 3, 02015: The second reading of Bill, the Government Information Act, began on March 2, 02015 in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly. The Hansard transcript is here: http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/40th4th/20150302pm-House-Blues.htm

In speaking about the bill, opposition member Doug Routley gave a lengthy critique and highlighted the 33,000 boxes of records in government warehouses awaiting transfer to the BC Archives, part of the Royal BC Museum.

 Original post: British Columbia government introduces legislation to create government digital archives

The British Columbia government introduced Bill 5, the Government Information Act, on February 12, 02015. The main purpose of the act is to repeal the 1936 Document Disposal Act. The new act will also establish a "digital archives for government information" and mandate a new position, the chief records officer, who will be "responsible for managing, securing and preserving the digital archives." The digitization of government information will become mandatory under this legislation unless the information is exempt from being digitized. Information in a non-digital form "must be digitized before it is archived."

Although it is open for interpretation and clarification, section 20(2)(e) appears to lay the groundwork for the government to begin paying fees to the Royal BC Museum for archival services. Except in a few very special circumstances, the Royal BC Museum has not taken in government records for over a decade. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner highlighted this situation in its July 02014 special report A Failure to Archive: Recommendations to Modernize Government Information Management. Could this bill be a response to the OIPCBC's report?

I wonder too whether with this new legislation the door may be opening for the payment of a one-time fee and transfer of thousands of boxes to the "museum archives of government" as the bill styles the Royal BC Museum.

The first reading version of the bill is at
http://www.leg.bc.ca/40th4th/1st_read/gov05-1.htm

A news release offers some additional information: the "digital archives will be open to the public and searchable online" and "The transition to digital information management will begin in the spring of 2015 and is expected to take three years."

The Victoria newspaper Times-Colonist's article about Bill 5 is here.

2015-02-23

Alice turns 150

The sesquicentennial of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is 2015. Happy birthday! The Lewis Carroll Society of North America has information on events and commemorations for Alice150.

2015-02-21

Denmark presents digitized cultural heritage to the world

According to this BBC News story, Denmark has opened its digitized cultural heritage of over two million images and other types of content to the world. The site is called arkivdk. The content comes from over 500 Danish archives. There appears to be no English language interface as yet.

2015-02-19

Key reports and publications in Canadian archival history

The Association of Canadian Archivists created a page pulling together Key Reports and Publications in Canadian Archival History. The documents span the development of Canadian archives from the 19th century to the present.

2015-02-17

Google executive despairs of a digital dark age

People notice when a Google executive talks about a digital dark age. Vint Cerf, an Internet pioneer and Google executive, was speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting and warning of "bit rot" and "digital vellum" to stem the tide of an "information black hole".

Ironically, as The Atlantic reported in its take on this story, there was a fire at a Brooklyn warehouse two weeks ago that

smogged up the Brooklyn ether (and confettied parts of the East River) with "decades’ worth of charred medical records, court transcripts, lawyers’ letters, sonograms, bank checks, and more." Huge swaths of Brooklyn's legal history literally fueled the fire, leaving one Clerk's Office representative to lament of the stacks of data lost: "They're priceless."
Of course archivists and technologists have been arguing for years over the most effective methods for digital preservation to prevent a digital dark age. No one set of methods appear to be accepted among the community. Cerf favors something called Olive (Open Library of Images for Virtualized Execution) under development by Carnegie Mellon University in association with IBM Research. They've had some success in virtualizing software such as Apple's last version of HyperCard and Microsoft Office 6.0.