Preserving Legislative Digital Records

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Preserving Legislative Digital Records Publication CoverOverview

In the last decade, technology and the Internet have opened access to the legislative process and created new ways for citizens to interact with their elected representatives. Legislative documents are created, tracked and transmitted electronically, and an unprecedented amount of information is being made available to the public online. This transition has made legislative work more efficient and has enhanced transparency, accountability and access.

But this digital revolution has also placed our legislative legacy at risk. Legislative records are created with software and hardware that become obsolete in only a few years. Documents are created in digital formats that deteriorate more quickly than paper. The authenticity of records is often subject to question, and information is essentially lost amid the sheer volume of records that are digitally created and stored without a practical means of access.

A national partnership, created through the Library of Congress and led by the Minnesota Historical Society, is working to ensure that legislative records will be trustworthy, complete, durable and accessible over time. This publication provides options, advice and simple, low-cost tools and practices to help with these goals, with an understanding that there is no single model for all states and no single solution. Each state must address and answer questions about the preservation of its records. Each state holds the keys to its legislative legacy.