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Social Researchers Mix Paper and Electronic Storage The question of what sort of data will be stored digitally in archives has been raised by the curator of a massive collection of data about everyday life in Britain that has been steadily compiled since the 1930s. Speaking to the BBC, curator of the Mass Observation archive in Sussex Fiona Courage, said not all the data stored is kept in paper form, despite the collection having just moved to a new purpose-built climate-controlled building.


"We do keep them electronically as well. But there's a lot of debate at the moment about how we can preserve our digital lives. We can't guarantee emails will be available in 15 to 20 years' time," she noted. Mass Observation began in 1937 and involves volunteers taking notes on the minutiae of daily life, although it stopped in the 1950s and did not recommence until the 1980s. Although some of the detail produced now is sent in emails, it is still recorded in paper form. The move to the new archive also indicates that keeping some of the information in its original paper form and preserving it against decay is a priority for the collection.


However, the practice of storing data in both paper and electronic form may simply serve a dual purpose of having a back-up for the physical records, while at the same time retaining the potential to put the papers on public display in a museum setting. For a commercial enterprise of public body, this will seldom constitute a good reason to retain paper records. Therefore, the benefits of data security, the freeing up of space and rapid, anytime accessibility will all provide good reasons to shift data storage from paper to electronic means – whatever the speculation about the future of email.


The UK National Archives is another organisation where both paper and electronic record-keeping are being used. It is seeking to digitise data that stretches back 1,000 years, although to date only five per cent of this mammoth task has been completed.

Storetec News/Blogs. "http://www.storetec.net/news-blog/socialresearchers-mix-paper-and-electronic-storage". Social researchers mix paper and electronic storage. Nov 18,2013. Storetec.

Social researchers mix paper and electronic storage  

The question of what sort of data will be stored digitally in archives has been raised by the curator of a massive collection of data about...

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