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Regaining the Rights to Records : Trusted Online Access to Distributed Digital Holdings Spelay, Michelle 2017

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Regaining the Rights to Records Trusted Online Access to Distributed Digital Holdings Michelle Spelay School of Library, Archival and Information Studies The overwhelming majority of public records are never transferred to archival custody, but remain in the custody of their creating or controlling agencies – often for many decades.    This research aims to determine whether government archives have a leadership role to play in ensuring that access systems that are put in place for the holdings in their institutional repositories can be extended to encompass distributed holdings of digital public records in the custody of government agencies.    Introduction Literature surveyed overwhelmingly said YES government does have an obligation to make public records available even when they exist outside of direct custody. There is a responsibility to provide access to public records no matter where they are located. This lead us to two important research questions:  • How can government make digital public records that are kept in the creating agency’s custody available in a trustworthy and user friendly manner?  • How can government deal with privacy and ethical concerns that come with making public records available online?   Research Questions 1 Barata, Kimberly, Piers Cain, Dawn Routledge and Justus Wamukoya. “Information for Accountability Workshops: Their Role in Promoting Access to Information.” in Archives and the Public Good: Accountability and Records in Modern Society. Ed. Richard J. Cox and David A. Wallace. 2002. Westport, US: Greenwood Press. ProQuest ebrary. 67-89. 2 Byrne, David S. “Access to Online Local Government Public Records: The Privacy Paradox.” Legal Reference Services Quarterly. 29.1 (2010): 1-21. DOI: 10.1080/02703190903554934. 3 Cuillier, David and Suzanne J. Piotrowski. “Internet Information-seeking and its Relation to Support for Access to Government Records.” Government Information Quarterly 26.3 (2009): 441-449. DOI:10.1016/j.giq.2009.03.001. Full bibliography available at:  References Via WordItOut Government Responsibilities and Obligations  Namely to be transparent and provide access to public information. Public access to government records is essential for democratic self-governance.   Ethics Government should make its records available to the public unless it can show good cause why they should be withheld (ex: matters of national security).   Mechanics of Access A system for access must be able to guarantee: comprehensiveness, authenticity, integrity, fixity    The Role of the Information Professional Assess technical options and help select digital storage and preservation techniques; educate the public; hold government accountable. Cannot solve this problem on their own. Collaboration is key to success.  Next Steps We will be conducting an contextual analysis of the Queensland State Archives and Archives New Zealand.  Conclusions • Conducted literature review of journal articles, books and other scholarly materials as well as grey literature and government websites and information policies.  • Travelled to Wellington, New Zealand to present current findings to archivists and records professionals at International Symposium. Gained valuable feedback from professionals in the field and have adjusted project scope in reaction to this feedback.  • Semi-structured interviews are forthcoming. Have established a contact at Archives New Zealand to facilitate interviews.   Method Thank you to InterPARES Trust and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding this research. Acknowledgements Integrity Privacy Access Top: New Zealand flag; Bottom: Australian flag. Wikimedia Commons. Queensland State Archives Archives New Zealand. Contexts to Consider Technical elements: the practical elements and actual technology for enabling access and discovery. What kind of system can be used to make records available and how will it work.  Cultural elements: Determining the cultural barriers. Figuring out how do to get custodians to open up. How to get governments to take open government seriously?   


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