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SAA 2006 Session 103: “X” Marks the Spot: Archiving GIS Databases – Part III

With the famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [1] quote of “Don’t Panic!”, James Henderson of the Maine State Archives [2] gave an overview of how they have approached archiving GIS data in his presentation “Managing GIS in the Digital Archives” (the third presentation of the ‘X Marks the Spot’ [3]panel). His basic point is that there is no time to wait for the perfect alignment of resources and research – GIS data is being lost every day, so they had to do what they could as soon as possible to stop the loss.

Goals: preserve permanently valuable state of main official records that are in digital form – both born digital as well as those digitized for access.. and provide continuing digital access to these records

A billion dollars has been spent creating the records over 15 years, but nothing is being done to preserve it. GIS data is overwritten or deleted by agencies as information in live systems is updated with information such as new road names.

At Camp Pitt in 1999 they created a digital records management plan – but it took a long time to get to the point that they were given the money, time and opportunity to put it into action.

Overall Strategy for archiving digital records:

The state being sued caused enough panic at the state level to make the people ‘in charge’ see that email needed to preserved and organized and accessible.

Some points:

GeoArchives (special case of the general approaches diagramed above)

Scope: fairly limited

GeoArchives diagram based on NARA ERA diagram
Fit into the ERA diagram very well

Project team – true collaboration. Pulled people from GeoLibrary who were enthusiastic and supportive of central IT GIs changes.

Used a survey to find out what data people wanted.

Created crosswalks with Dublin Core [4], MARC 21 [5] and FGDC [6]

Functional Requirements – there is a lot of related information – who created this data? Where did it come from? Link them to the related layers.

Appraise the data layers – at the data layer level (rather than digging in to keep some data in a layer and not other data)

Has about 100 layers – so hand appraisal is do-able (though automation would be nice and might be required after next ‘gift’).

Current plan is to embed archival records in systems holding critical operational records so that the archival records will be migrated along with the other layers. Export to XML for now.


For more information – see http://www.maine.gov/sos/arc/GeoArchives/geosearch.html [7]

UPDATE: This link appears to not work. I will update it with a working link once I find one!

http://www.maine.gov/sos/arc/GeoArchives/geoarch.html [8] (Finally got around to finding the right fix for the link!)

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Comments Disabled To "SAA 2006 Session 103: “X” Marks the Spot: Archiving GIS Databases – Part III"

#1 Comment By Rob Jenson On August 4, 2006 @ 10:42 pm

Just a bit of website preservation trivia … you have heard the story [hopefully not just a rumor repeated continuously] about the Camp Pitt web site, which was “lost” … and the only copy was in the Internet Archive?

#2 Pingback By Session 510: Digital History and Digital Collections (aka, a fan letter for Roy and Dan) – SpellboundBlog.com – ponderings of an archives student On August 6, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

[…] SAA 2006 Session 103: “X” Marks the Spot: Archiving GIS Databases – Part III […]

#3 Pingback By The Edges of the GIS Electronic Record – SpellboundBlog.com – ponderings of an archives student On January 2, 2007 @ 12:50 pm

[…] In contrast with this approach we can consider what is being done to preserve GIS data by the Archivist of Maine in the [8]. In his presentation titled [14] delivered at the [15] on August 3, 2006, Jim Henderson explained their approach of appraising individual layers to determine if they should be accessioned in the archive. […]