Digital Preservation Overview
State legislatures face critical challenges in preserving digital materials. This site provides background information and tools and resources from NCSL and other organizations working to keep legislative digital records trustworthy, complete and accessible over time.
Last update: Jan. 6, 2014
NCSL's Preserving Legislative Digital Records publication explains the challenges of preserving legislative records in a digital age and provides options, advice, and simple, low-cost tools and preservation practices.
NCSL is tracking state legislation that would adopt the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA). Eleven states--California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota and Oregon--have adopted UELMA.
UELMA was approved in July 2011 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and approved in February 2012 by the American Bar Association. Additional resources are available in "Online and Authentic?" in NCSL's State Legislatures magazine, in The Legislative Lawyer and in a post, "Meet My Trustworthy Friend UELMA," from the Library of Congress blog, The Signal, and, from the Center for Technology in Government, Opening Government's Official Legal Materials: Authenticity and Integrity in the Digital World.
NCSL's Legal Services Staff Section's Revisors Project surveyed state revisors' offices and developed a series of charts outlining who publishes the statutes online, who holds the copyright, frequency of publishing, and official versions of the statutes/code.
View presentations, handouts and a podcast from the 2011 Legislative Summit in August 2011, on digital preservation issues, and read more in NCSL's blog, The Thicket.
NCSL Staff Contact
Pam Greenberg. NCSL Denver Office, 303-856-1413
Collaborative Projects and Publications
The National Digital Stewardship Alliance of the Library of Congress was launched in July 2010 as an initiative of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. NCSL is a founding member of NDSA, which Congress charged with building the capacity for public and private organizations across the United States to save digital content of current and future value to the nation.
The Minnesota Historical Society's Center for Archival Resources On Legislatures (CAROL) is the final product of the Minnesota NDIIPP project related to the preservation of and access to digital legislative content. CAROL pulls together research information and other resources on pertinent topics, while the Final Report summaries project activities.
The American Association of Law Libraries has researched primary legal materials in the states to determine if online legal materials--statutes, session laws, and more--are trustworthy and preserved for permanent public access.
Digital Authentication Resources for Legislatures
The California Office of Legislative Counsel has developed a White Paper, Authentication of Primary Legal Materials and Pricing Options, which reviews electronic authentication methods for legal and legislative materials. Six sample solutions are described and their relative costs are compared.
The Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes has published Prototype for Authentication of Official Electronic Record and Pricing (August 2012), which describes a software prototype built to satisfy the requirements of UELMA.
In presentations at the NCSL Legislative Summit in July 2014, representatives from the California and Minnesota legislatures described their states' implementation of UELMA: The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act Implementation in California and Minnesota.