~ the good and the bad on electronic public records ~

Thurston County, Washington is about to launch a website with a searchable index of court cases, with case document images that can be printed. This is a convenient development but have you thought about the fate of hard copy records that are digitized? Government record archivists are sounding warnings of “digital death” — the loss of electronically stored records that evaporate once they’re removed from a government website. The California State Archivist estimates that half of all government documents suffer this fate.

Now, back to the issue of online court records. The Thurston County Court Clerk:

Records that once were kept in hundreds of boxes in archive vaults now are stored on eight computer hard drives and 100 backup DVDs. Almost all of the paper files were shredded, which Gould said was difficult for her to do after years of maintaining them.

Where are those backups stored? And how durable is the DVD media?

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