Records Management

Obama archive to go digital

Shutterstock image: digital record management. 

Post-presidential record-keeping practices are moving into the digital age.

The National Archives and Records Administration will start digitizing the unclassified records of the Obama administration, using a new model for the storage of presidential records.

Instead of building a new site for the records, they will be housed in existing NARA facilities, and the agency will work on preserving and making them accessible in digital format to the greatest extent possible, NARA said in a May 3 statement.

NARA's announcement follows one by the Obama Foundation about the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, which includes a commitment to fund the digitization of all unclassified records from the Obama presidency.

"For the first time in history, all of the unclassified paper records from the administration will be digitized soon after the end of the administration," the Obama Foundation said in a statement. "This will help NARA, which retains ongoing control over presidential records, make the records more easily accessible to the public."

After uploading them electronically, NARA will store the original paper records and artifacts from the 44th presidency in a NARA facility, and it will support a loan program that will lend the records for exhibition in the future Obama Museum and other private galleries.

The classified Obama White House records will be preserved in Washington, D.C., until they are reviewed and declassified, at which time NARA will add them to the electronic catalog.

"In making this decision, the Obama Foundation is prioritizing providing NARA with a digital archives to serve historians and scholars, instead of building a Presidential Library to hold the paper records," the announcement from Obama Foundation said.

The Obama administration also provided NARA with more than 250 terabytes of electronic records, including roughly 300 million emails.

"Together, these 'born digital' and the digitized materials will represent the largest digital archive of presidential records," NARA said.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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