Tuesday, August 25, 2009

American Archivists in China have Mexican lunch in Texas

Dear Friends,

SAA has come and gone. To those of you who came, I hope you enjoyed a week of Texas hospitality. For those of you who could not make it, we missed at our lunch. It was great seeing so many of you.

Attached are some photos from Friday's lunch.

Safe travels to those still travelling


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Photos from our trip

Many of us uploaded our trip photos to a photo sharing website called Photobucket: http://gs75.photobucket.com/groups/i291/BJYP3QJUQJ/?start=0.

We miss you, Wendy!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ancient Chinese Archives

No doubt this will not come as a surprise to anyone. We were correct is assuming that China has archival repositories other than the government repositories of the New China and it is quite likely that we walked right by the gem of them all!

The First Historical Archives is within the Forbidden City and a tour would have been possible. This repository holds the archives of the emperors and associated governmental affairs and activities, which date from at least the 13th century.

Some American scholars have regular access to the FHA and they would be able to facilitate the necessary contact for future U.S. archival delegations. One such contact is the Center of Chinese Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, directed by Ron Anton of Loyola University of Chicago. The Center of Chinese Studies is engaged in research within the FHA, and besides facilitating contact, it would be able to present and comment on its findings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chief Librarian Reports on Visit to China

From Kenneth Schlesinger's article at: http://www.lehman.edu/lehman/enews/2008_11_17/feat_schlesinger.html

In October, Lehman Chief Librarian Kenneth Schlesinger traveled to China for ten days as part of a Visiting Delegation of Archivists. The group was sponsored by People to People Citizen Ambassador Programs, which organizes international cultural exchanges in a variety of subject disciplines. Here, Mr. Schlesinger talks about his experiences.

The Delegation divided its time between Beijing and Shanghai on a rigorous (to put it mildly) schedule of professional visits and cultural activities. First stop was a meeting with our professional counterparts at Chinese Archives Society, which has over 7400 members. It was significant to initiate discussion about how our international professional organizations could cooperate more closely. As part of our formal gift giving (important in Asian cultures), we presented them with an institutional membership to the Society of American Archivists.

Paper preservation lab, Beijing City Archives (photo by Dianne Brown)

The Beijing City Archives occupies fifteen floors of a building equipped for both onsite storage and public access. Since Beijing serves as an administrative province with over thirty-three million people in the metropolitan area, the archives functions more on a municipal level. We toured paper and audiovisual preservation labs, as well as a digital scanning area with a staff of sixteen. The Chinese are committed to aggressively digitizing their collections and have a recent mandate to make them publicly accessible in attractive reading rooms.

One of the high points of our excursion was meeting with faculty and students at the School of Information Resource Management of Renmin University (considered the Harvard of China). An estimated 150 students and faculty were there to welcome us, and we had an intriguing facilitated conversation about library training in the U.S. vs. China, current trends in research, and the challenges of digital preservation. We were particularly impressed by the students, who asked thoughtful, sophisticated questions in English, clearly informed by library and archival literature.

School of Information Resource Management, Renmin University (photo by Elizabeth Adkins)

All too quickly we were off to lively, cosmopolitan Shanghai, considered the New York of China. We had fewer professional visits, but spent an interesting morning at the Shanghai Municipal Archives, located on the historic Bund in a beautiful Art Deco building. Our knowledgeable hosts queried us about cataloging archival materials, making finding aids accessible on the World Wide Web, as well as operational procedures of our National Archives. We toured an excellent multimedia exhibition on the colorful history of Shanghai. The afternoon was spent at the Shanghai Museum, one of the finest in the world, chronicling the aesthetic history of Imperial China through its artifacts: bronze, scrolls, ceramics, porcelain, and ethnic costumes.

Most professional visits lasted two hours, and the conversation merely scratched the surface. Some delegates were frustrated by the limited time and inability to go into more depth. From my own experience, however, the fact of our meeting was more significant than the actual content. This was, hopefully, a prelude to more dialogue and exchange in the future.

Professional visit, Shanghai Municipal Archives (photo by Dianne Brown)

We made some startling discoveries. For example, it was compelling what a central government could do by marshalling its resources—both financial and human—toward archival processing and digitization. We were impressed by this major thrust towards digitization, but realized that long-term issues of digital preservation and data migration were not necessarily being addressed. The strategy appears to be: Digitize Now—Preserve Later. Rather than using archival storage boxes, we observed that documents are mounted in individual folders. Due to language differences, at times we had difficulty establishing a common vocabulary and grasping concepts: informationization. After a few sessions, we began to understand that in China they do not differentiate between archives, records management, and information issues.

The cultural component was equally important. In this brief span we visited massive Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, attended the Peking Opera, and marveled at the Shanghai Acrobats. Climbing the Great Wall was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.
Needless to say, we learned as much from our wonderful hosts as they hopefully learned from us. Further, I benefited from the knowledge and expertise of my fellow delegates and established new collegial friendships.

posted for Kenneth Schlesinger by Kathy Marquis

Global Archives Management Delegation Visit with Shanghai Municipal Archives (Bund Branch)

October 17, 2008
Shanghai, China

Representing the Shanghai Municipal Archives:
Mr. Cang Dafang, Deputy Director General, Shanghai Municipal Archives
Mr. Chen Chaoxin, Director of Administration Office
Mrs. Wang Chunmei, Deputy Director of Planning Department
Mr. Zhu Jianzhong, Deputy Director of Methodical Leading Department
Mr. Zhen Zequing, Director of Acquisitions Department
Mr. Zhang Xin, Director of Arrangement and Cataloguing Department
Mrs. Zhang Mingli, Section Chief of Access Department
Mr. Zhang Jianming, Deputy Director of Security and Preservation Department
Mr. Wu Guanghua, Director of Information Technology Department
Mrs. Cao Shengmei, Arrangement and Cataloguing Department
Mrs. Cheng Wangyuan, Administration Office

The Shanghai Municipal Archives was founded in December 1959. There are 14 departments and centers. Their have two missions: the first is to provide storage for archival records, and the second is to act as a center to promote patriotism.

They are a reference center promoting open access to government information. Their holdings total 2.18 million folders, or up to 58 kilometers/58,000 square meters. For better service to the public, they have the use of the entire building, courtesy of the city of Shanghai, although the actual collections are stored elsewhere. Their major functions include exhibitions and academic programs. The municipal government has given them a great deal of support, which has led to much notice from the public. Their mission has always included better promotion so that they can be better used by the public. In the year 2004, they had 240,000 researchers.

The delegates were shown a brief DVD about the archives, showing users, the old building, holdings recording the foreign settlements and local government records from dynastic and KMT periods, as well as the Japanese occupation in the 1930s, and the PRC period. These include records of industrial, commercial and social organizations and audiovisual materials, such as old wire recordings. The DVD described security, conservation, digitization, storage, publications, and the computerized catalog. All delegates will receive copies of the DVD.

They are expanding the functions of the archives, including some “cultural products” which were presented to Elizabeth Adkins. These included a beautiful scroll picture of the Bund area of Shanghai, a DVD about art deco in Shanghai, and some note cards. Elizabeth Adkins also presented the delegation's gifts to Mr. Cang, (who had to leave for another meeting), including an SAA membership and a certificate of appreciation.

Elizabeth Adkins began the question and answer session by noting that the archives the delegation has visited in China are very large and well-supported by the government. Many of the delegates work for small archives, not supported by the government. She asked for a show of hands of those who work in shops with five or fewer archivists. Five delegates raised their hands.

Pat Scott mentioned that she is not only a lone arranger, but she only has a half-time position and also does library bibliographic instruction. It can be overwhelming, but on the other hand, you can perform all the functions of an archives, not just one. College and university archivists often depend on student help. David McCartney noted that most university archives are part of a larger library system, and also part of a special collections department, including rare books, manuscripts and university records. His special collections department has eleven staff, but he is the only full time university archives staff, in addition to student employees.

In the following exchange, "GAMD" stands for Global Archives Management Delegation, and "SMA" stands for Shanghai Municipal Archives.

GAMD: Are college and university records included in municipal archives or are they separate?

SMA: All over Shanghai there are more than 50 archival repositories. SMA is a government archives, so they do not take college and university archival records – they have their own archives. There are 10 university archives in town. A typical university archives has a full-time staff of 10 to 20. They have comprehensive responsibilities including exhibitions, etc., in addition to records retention and storage and use of records. They might also be the local/university museum, and hold digital records. Some other archives have only 1-2 staff. There are both full-time and part-time staff.

GAMD: Does the SMA acquire their records by records schedules, mandating transfer method, timing, etc.?

SMA: They collect records from government agencies. According to Chinese law, once a file is created, after 10-20 years it must be transferred to the archives.

GAMD: Everything?

SMA: Yes. Before the records are transferred to the archives, they will be appraised and selected. They keep about 30% of the records. How does it work in the U.S. national archives? When is the transfer period – how long after creation?

GAMD: It depends on the type of record and the office of creation. Records are held temporarily at records centers, and some of these records are then destroyed. The records centers are distinct from the archives – more like “fancy warehouses.”

Jac Treanor commented that in the U.S., we see archives and records management as two separate functions, rather than one. He advocates that they are inseparable. He feels more comfortable with the Chinese point of view. U.S. appraisal is based on government legislation and local laws. For example, Federal government requirements affect personnel records, while tax laws and state laws govern business records, and local laws govern lower-level organization records such as religious organization records.

Eric Hartmann commented that Chinese archives seem to have more labor power available to work on archives. This may be one reason why we have to be more selective about what we take – there are fewer people to process/manage the records.

The delegates asked whether SMA plans to digitize everything and put it all on the web. Will Chinese people be able to access it all on the web? Will there be plans to translate it all into English?

SMA: In SMA we have been digitizing for 6-7 years. Maybe this digitizing means something different to us because our storage is far away from our reading rooms. So, most of our reference is provided here by via the Internet. Starting in 2004 we have general public reference here in this building. The requests have really grown, especially for Internet access to documents – so they have been digitizing more and more. Paper records, after appraisal and consideration for open access, are digitized and mounted on the Internet. We have digitized 50% of our records. Last year only 1% of requested records were digitized. This year 28% of requested records were already digitized. However, English translation is not top in our priorities.

GAMD: The DVD mentioned that business and organizational records were included in your archives. Can you tell us more about them?

SMA: Most are government records, but they are always ready to take records of important events or celebrations taking place in Shanghai. They send information to events staff to help them catalog and manage their records before right from the beginning of the process. They also send staff to do the transfer of the records.

They have read that the delegates are interested in preservation of digital records. They are interested in this, too. This relates to the technological conditions.

GAMD: NARA has a center for electronic records. Originally, they copied all information for use and stored the original. Now there is the ERA (Electronic Records Archives) project.

As mentioned earlier, digital preservation is an international crisis. If we don’t find a way of capturing electronic records, and making them usable in the future, we will have no records for the future. Unfortunately our IT experts think only of data and information, not records. The lawyers and auditors, because of lawsuits and electronic discovery laws governing evidence, have become our allies. They are helping us to forward our agenda of digital records preservation. We look to the ERA project with great hope, but we must go forward on our own, too. Many universities are setting up their own institutional archives to preserve digital records – but this, too, is complicated by laws governing, for example, student records and their confidentiality.

Records must be managed from creation to disposition – electronic records management is our most difficult task. We are just beginning! Several universities, including UCLA, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Michigan have done great work. Australia and Canada have produced very useful tools for digital preservation. There is now an “archives toolkit” that we use. Hardware and software obsolescence is a great problem. We need database structure standards and migration strategies to assist in this preservation. There are electronic records tools that allow us to capture records at the point of creation. We need further tools to help us catalog by category, office, function, also at the point of creation. It is not a time to sit and wait!

We need all stakeholders “at the table” and more investment in research on this topic. We need to develop specific tools and implement them. Part of the problem is that we are at the mercy of commercial vendors who create products which become obsolete – they have no interest in future usability of the hardware or software.

We have been long frustrated by working with IT staff – they don’t understand the concept of preserving records long term – for them it is only the current problem that matters. [*much* agreement by Chinese archivists] At Ford Motor Company, Elizabeth Adkins has been very involved with setting information security standards. Information security is a big problem for IT, too, so it has become an important way to communicate with them and jointly solve problems. It gives them a common viewpoint. This common work has helped create more of a partnership with IT.

Elizabeth Adkins asked if there were any more questions from the delegates. Stacy Gould, who works at Hong Kong University, asked about archival legislation, which does not exist at Hong Kong. In Shanghai, are university records governed by specific legislation?

SMA: There is a local archives code in Shanghai to which local university archives are subject, regarding retention of files. All universities in China must also abide by regulations issued by the Ministry of Education. Specific regulations in the Number 6 Act of the Archives Law must be followed. In China most universities are still public so they must follow laws regulating governmental entities.

The delegation then proceeded to an outstanding exhibit about the history of Shanghai on a lower floor.

Global Archives Management Delegation Visit with Renmin University School of Information Resource Management (SIRM)

Beijing, China
October 15, 2008

Representing Renmin University:
Professor Zhang Bin, Vice President of SIRM
Professor Wang Jian, SIRM professor
Professor Feng Huiling, Vice President of the University
Assistant Professor An Xiaomi, SIRM assistant professor
Numerous other SIRM faculty members

We met in a large meeting room with name tags for all of the delegates and the SIRM faculty. Many SIRM students attended the meeting.

Prof. Zhang Bin introduced some of the faculty of the University. He then talked about his interest in discussing differences between China and U.S. archives practices, as well as management of digital records, education, and standardization.

Prof. Wang Jian provided an overview of the school, which was established in 1952. The Archives department was established in 1978, and the Library Science masters degree was initiated in 2000.

They have three departments:
• Archives
• Administrative Information Management Department
• Library Information

They provide bachelors, masters and post-doctoral degrees. They keep track of what is going on globally. The textbooks developed in this school are disseminated across China

There are eight different doctorate curriculums, including History of Chinese Archival Science and E-government. They have a large computer lab for practice, and provide opportunities for students to go elsewhere, for example Shanghai.

SIRM has 400 students, including undergraduates, post graduates, doctorates, and foreign students (mostly from Korea and other Asian countries). They have 32 full-time faculty.

Information on the school can be found on their website: http://www2.irm.cn/english. They host many conferences, including an international a PhD Forum. They are core members of the International Council on Archives' Section on Archival Education. They have a cooperative agreement with two other universities, the University of Michigan and a university in Korea (Pusan?).

In 2006 they arranged for some of their students to participate in an internship in Chicago.

In 2007 some of their students visited Pusan National University in South Korea.

Elizabeth Adkins provided a brief overview of the Society of American Archivists, then asked each delegate to introduce themselves.

Prof. Wang then hosted a Q&A session. In the following exchange, "GAMD" stands for Global Archives Management Delegation, and "SIRM" stands for School of Information Resource Management.

GAMD: What levels of jobs can a student get with a bachelors degree, since the U.S. does not really have bachelors degree programs for archivists?

SIRM: Majority of archives in China also includes records management and computer technology. There is plenty of work in the area of knowledge management in government agencies and corporations. It's easy to find a job, although not necessarily a good job.

SIRM: October is Archives Month in the U.S. How can we (China) get more information about it?

GAMD: American Archives Month was started by SAA two years ago, building on local efforts that had been occurring for many years. Archivists in the U.S. are not generally good at promoting themselves, so SAA tries to provide information that will help archivists in promoting their own archives. We’re beginning to realize that we need to be able to explain to our employers and society in general the need and importance of archives. Two years ago SAA began to issue public relations kits that are sent to all SAA members to help them promote American Archives Month. In the gifts we have brought, we have included the 2008 press kit. Information is also available on SAA’s website: www.archivists.org

GAMD: In the U.S., most students become attracted to archival work because of an interest in history. Is that also true in China? The knowledge and skills of dealing with electronic records is increasingly important.

SIRM: Two students responded by talking about their interest in archives. One is a major in History. The other is interested in preservation and conservation issues, so she acknowledges that she needs to understand history.

GAMD: So students are interested in working with traditional records, as well as electronic records?

SIRM: Faculty member: Master’s and PhD students choose their careers because of their personal interests. We’ve changed our name from Archives to School of Information Resource Management, so we can explore issues of records as an information resource. We wanted to offer a comprehensive curriculum to students. There are currently eight Master’s degree students and ten PhD candidates. Records management is strong point of curriculum. Archival students also need to learn knowledge management. We have a number of research projects under the guidance of faculty. Undergraduate degrees range from Archival Science Specialty, to Information Management, to Information Systems Specialty.

GAMD: In the U.S., most organizations use computers to manage information and records. They’re beginning to consider input from professional records managers because of legal compliance issues. Preservation issues in the future will become a major problem.

In our China visit, we’ve heard a lot of interest in digitization of electronic records, but less about actual digital preservation. Please comment on China’s need to address digital preservation issues.

SIRM: Faculty: There is a tendency for e-government to produce a lot of electronic records. In China, there is a need for informationization of government documents. There is currently an important project under way to create a Strategy on Maintenance of Electronic Records. Some regions in China have started to establish their own electronic records centers. Digitization is a way to share our culture. Research has begun on long-term preservation.

Automation is widely used. We have concerns about long-term preservation, and risk management for government electronic records. We have two national projects regarding the accountability of the government for memory and for evidence.

GAMD: You referred to “informationization,” which is a term we've heard during our visit, but it is not clear to us what it means. Can you please explain it?

SIRM: Informationization refers to a national strategy to improve efficiency in governmental processes through computerization.

GAMD: We’re in a global crisis to find ways to preserve digital information. No one knows how long these records will last: five years? Ten years? There is a need to refresh digital information every decade or so. In the future, there will be major challenges in terms of storing and accessing digital information. We need to work together to develop solutions for addressing these issues.

SIRM: Faculty: We agree that we are in a crisis to preserve digital records. Some of you work in universities. Do you think that universities should digitize all archives?

GAMD: No, there is not enough in the budgets to do that, and even if there were, there does not seem to be a need to digitize everything.

SIRM: Faculty: In your universities, are your archives open to the general public?

GAMD: Most are, although it depends on the institution.

SIRM: Faculty: What are the basic procedures for serving students?

GAMD: Most university archives are connected with the university library, so they follow the same procedures as those in the library. Many universities are requiring students to use primary resources in their studies, which encourages the use of archives.

SIRM: Faculty: Do you receive digital records? How you then manage them? How will you provide them to users?

GAMD: Yes, but practices vary widely depending on the institution. Concerns cross all areas of the universities including faculty, staff, IT, registrars, etc.

SIRM: Faculty: Here in China, we do not distinguish between libraries and archives.

GAMD: Librarians do not always understand archivists very well.

SIRM: Faculty: What are the standards to set up libraries and archives? What are the cataloging standards?

GAMD: Standards include DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), and a new standard currently being developed for individual manuscripts [DCRM(MSS)]. A standard for graphics materials – DCRM(G) – is currently being created by RBMS (Rare Books and Manuscripts Section), a part of ALA (American Library Association), that very loosely follows another archival standard, which is AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules). Archivists use EAD (Encoded Archives Description) and MARC (Machine-Readable Cataloguing Record) to input/record the information based on the above standards.

SIRM: Student: Do archivists classify by function in the U.S.?

GAMD: William & Mary classified by function but it's more import to first classify by origin. Functional classification is used in records management; series classification is used in Archives, although it's usually based on the records management classification. As enterprise content management systems get deployed more widely, the use of functional classification is being considered more often.

SIRM: Student: Who will undertake the responsibilities for digitizing according to regulations in the U.S.? Will any commercial records centers take on this responsibility? What is the relationship between SAA and the commercial records centers?

GAMD: Cannot think of any regulations that require digitization of already existing records (i.e., paper, audiovisual materials, etc.), but rather regulations to preserve those records that were created digitally (i.e., email, registrations, etc.) for use in legal issues.

The relationship between SAA and commercial records centers is relatively simple, in that SAA asks Iron Mountain (the major commercial records center vendor) to financially sponsor SAA activities. In the records management community, ARMA and Iron Mountain have a closer relationship; they participate in strategic plans together to solve issues.

Iron Mountain is the major commercial records center vendor. They have gotten very big by buying out competitors. They can set their own terms because they are usually the only game in town which has its challenges for the archives and records management community.

SIRM: How do you handle privacy issues and access in university archives?

GAMD: Records that are going to be closed forever are not usually kept in archives. Usually there are time limits to any restrictions on access (for example, the life time of the individual plus 50 years, which helps get past the privacy issues). Many of the records given to universities are given by private individuals, and they may ask for their personal records to have periods of inaccessibility as is their right.

The visit concluded with a presentation by the students to the delegates of a poster listing all the delegates, as well as pins from the university and the school. The delegation then presented a number of gifts, along with a certificate of appreciation.

Global Archives Management Delegation Visit with the Beijing Municipal Archives

October 14, 2008

Representing the Beijing Municipal Archives:
Ms. Chen Leren: Archives Director
Mr. Luo Yunhe: Deputy Archives Director
Ms. Li: Duplication, technology
Ms. Song: Internet management
Ms. Wang: cataloging and management
Ms. Wang: reference and reception

Our hosts provided a brief overview of the Beijing Municipal Archives, which was founded in 1958. They are responsible for collecting records of Party institutions and related government institutions. There are 1.77 million volumes in the collection. (Each volume is a small aggregate of related records, similar to a file folder.) Their holdings include not just paper, but audiovisual collections. Every year they receive records from 200 separate entities at the city level, including corporate entities. They have been collecting information on important events and celebrations in Beijing. Examples include the 2003 SARS outbreak, as well as the 2008 Olympics and Para-Olympics and their preparations. They have gone to the United Kingdom and the United States to collect records about Beijing, to contribute toward the bigger picture of the city of Beijing.

They are working to improve environmental conditions for storage, using the latest technologies. The original archives was located in the center of the city. Eventually a new building was necessary. The current building dates to 1995. It covers 20,000 square meters. It has 15 floors; 13 are for storage, and the rest are for offices, IT, and reference. The Reference Hall is where people gain access to the records. Now they are working on additional exhibition rooms. The exhibitions will highlight the most valuable records, to tell the people of Beijing about the history of the city. There is also a dining hall.

With this new building, conditions for preservation have greatly improved. They have temperature and humidity controls. They are using technology, including digitization for publicly accessible records, microfilm for others. They aim to better preserve the original, making access easier for researchers. They are digitizing audiovisual materials, not just paper records.

They orient their services to the needs of the public. They provide access to agencies and organizations at the city level – and to the general public. They also have scholars who visit to use the records. Their website helps to manage the information, and helps users access their services. They also have the Beijing Archives Bureau. The Beijing Municipal Archives also shoulders the administration of the archives.

There is a Society of Beijing Archives, and those with more academic interest in archives are members. The president of the Society of Beijing Archives is also a member of the Chinese Archives Society.

After the overview, the hosts and delegates spent some time exchanging information. In the following exchange, "GAMD" stands for Global Archives Management Delegation, and "BMA" stands for Beijing Municipal Archives.

GAMD: Is there legislation authorizing your collection of Beijing records?

BMA: There is such legislative authority: the Archives Act of the People's Republic of China (1987). They are responsible for and entitled to collect records from the local area. Their archives date back to 1533, and continue up to the present day. There is also the Archives Code, which helps them collect from the local Party offices and city agencies. There is a list of records that they are to collect. After 20 years records are required to be moved to the Beijing Municipal Archives.

GAMD: Do you have personal or family records?

BMA: They emphasize government records so this includes information on individuals, such as marriages or salaries. They have attempted to collect a few personal papers, but it is a “side thing.”

Their goal is to digitize their entire holdings. They have already digitized 40% of their huge holdings. They would like to learn more about digitization in the United States, especially at the National Archives (NARA).

GAMD: Diane Dimkoff explained that at NARA “everyone wants everything digitized now,” but this is impossible. So they have formed partnerships with private companies, starting with the easiest: digitizing microfilm. They are approached by private companies, signing legal documents outlining what NARA and the companies agree to be responsible for. This started with genealogy research interests. NARA prioritizes the most needed records, which are mounted on the NARA website for public access. Partnership agreements outline standards for digitizing, as well as control of the metadata. Many lawyers are involved. NARA provides space in-house for this digitizing work. The work of these private companies with original materials is monitored by NARA's reference room staff.

BMA: They first digitized the catalog, then whole collections. By 2007, they had 2.12 million hits on the website – more than 40% were from the U.S. Most of these were from California.

GAMD: California has a very large Asian-American population. No one in the U.S. has goal of digitizing “absolutely everything.” We create priorities.

Max Evans talked about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which has a strong genealogical interest. They began microfilming records of genealogical interest in 1937. Today they digitize. They are one of the NARA partners, of whom Diane Dimkoff spoke. They are also digitizing the several million rolls of microfilm in Salt Lake City. He can find someone from the LDS program, a Chinese speaker, who can help them do their digitizing. He is the LDS archivist for the records of the Church itself. They are now investigating “digitizing on demand.”

Lee Stout commented that the American archival system is very decentralized; many budgets are too small to digitize all records. So, we must be strategic about what can and should be done, deciding which collections most warrant digitization. This raises the issue of the preservation of digitized files: This is a big problem for the future, both for born-digital and digitized files. He asked how they are working to capture born-digital records.

MBA: Starting recently, with the Olympics, they are receiving born-digital records. They copy them and preserve the copies.

Two of you mentioned genealogy. What specific families are you documenting? Do you take records of anyone?

GAMD: Eric Hartmann: He is an archivist of the Catholic Church in Texas. They have microfilm and original sacramental records – similar to vital records. Descendants come to the archives to find out about their families. They are not famous people, just ordinary people.

Pat Scott: She is an amateur genealogist herself. Even her college – Pennsylvania College of Technology – gets such requests. She noted that the U.S. is a country of immigrants and many have little information about their ancestors, and seek this information.

Kit Leary: She gets genealogy requests from descendants of Oregon Shakespeare Festival participants.

Helen Wong Smith: Genealogical research in her repository in Hawaii parallels research by Native American research – to prove blood descent to entitle people to funds, land, group membership.

BMA: What is the size and scope of the National Archives?

GAMD: Diane Dimkoff explained that NARA maintains the permanently valuable records of the federal government. They were established in 1934 and they save only 3-4 % of records created by the government. They have three main facilities. There are also 14 regional archival facilities. They also have Presidential libraries, from President Hoover on forward. They have over 1,000,000,000 pieces of paper and many other formats. Their website is www.archives.gov. The records are open to everyone. Everyone must register so they can keep track of use.

At the conclusion of this exchange, the delegation toured the facility, including the Beijing Municipal Archives' scanning operation, conservation area, and exhibit area.