Strategies for preserving institutional and researcher email

Report of a CNI Executive roundtable held April 11 and 12, 2018
Archives Digital communications Electronic records Email

At the Spring 2018 CNI meeting in San Diego, CA, we held two sessions of an Executive Roundtable on Strategies for Preserving Institutional and Researcher Email. CNI and its member institutions have been addressing this issue since the late 1990s when stewards of institutional records realized that email was replacing letters and other forms of traditional paper-based communication, and special collections and archives began to accession significant amounts of electronic mail. While institutions had policies in place for archiving institutional paper correspondence, those policies were difficult to extend to electronic mail, and both records managers and archivists struggled to meet the challenges.

At the same time, librarians and archivists are now routinely receiving very large email collections as parts of the scholarly record of individuals from their own institutions (for example prominent scholars or institutional leaders) or other individuals or organizations, such as public intellectuals, non-profit public interest organizations, or politicians; the email they are accessioning will be a key part of future special collections.

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