About The Author

David Grabitske

David Grabitske is the manager of outreach services at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Now that many of you have made the move to electronic cataloging (such as PastPerfect), are you still keeping paper records? Of course we keep the signed acquisition forms, but do you maintain paper accession books and a card catalogs of artifacts?

At this point, I am continuing to maintain paper records like they started in 1966, but my volunteers are wondering if it is worth it and want to know what everyone else is doing. 🙂

Thanks!!!

pcmu...@wisper-wireless.com">Ann Grandy
Pope County Historical Society

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5 Responses to Paper Records with Electronic?

  1. Karen Schlenker says:

    We just completed cataloguing in PastPerfect last fall, and as an all-volunteer organization with nobody on hand with professional credentials, we’d sure like to see what others are doing as well. At this point, we’re continuing to keep a paper file of accession records, and of course the deed of gift and any written correspondence is filed. We are not continuing the card catalog for each item – we found that to be cumbersome anyway, and with the search capabilities on PP, we weren’t using the old cards much. We’re hoping that our backup procedures are up to snuff (you can lose paper records as readily as electronic, I suppose, but electronic seems so…ephemeral) but as far as utility goes, the electronic database seems to cover the bases.
    We just completed cataloguing in PastPerfect last fall, and as an all-volunteer organization with nobody on hand with professional credentials, we’d sure like to see what others are doing as well. At this point, we’re continuing to keep a paper file of accession records, and of course the deed of gift and any written correspondence is filed. We are not continuing the card catalog for each item – we found that to be cumbersome anyway, and with the search capabilities on PP, we weren’t using the old cards much. We’re hoping that our backup procedures are up to snuff (you can lose paper records as readily as electronic, I suppose, but electronic seems so…ephemeral) but as far as utility goes, the electronic database seems to cover the bases.

    Reply

  2. Hi Everyone,
    This is a topic that we have been discussing for several months. Part of the problem is that we don’t have a records retention and destrution policy. If you don’t have one, it is time to get one in place. Three weeks ago our computer that is loaded with PastPerfect aquired a virus. Thankfully the records were on a separate server so they are safe. This is not always the case. About 10 years ago I worked for another organization where we were entering the data into PastPerfect and with about 3/4 of the information recorded the computer crashed loosing about 1/2 of what was entered. Our policy is to keep the paper records indefinately.

    Reply

  3. Mary Warner says:

    We’re keeping at least 2 backups of PastPerfect (one goes off-site) and paper copies of what’s been entered. As our curator is not always on-site and I don’t always have time to turn on her computer, I sometimes refer to the paper copies.

    We have a Records Retention and Destruction Policy and anything related to our collections is considered permanent as far as retention goes.

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  4. This has been a sore subject with me for some time now. Even though I was at one point in my life a com sci major, the idea that all should be made digital is, quite frankly, pretty damn stupid.

    The idea that we can and should dispose of the original paper records (and yes, even stop microfilming) just because there is some new technology out there borders on the baffling.

    Remember, at one point, the 5.5 inch floppies were “the way to go”. Nothing electronic lasts forever. It always has to be migrated somewhere down the the line.

    Final assessment – duplication is not only wise, it is necessary.
    This has been a sore subject with me for some time now. Even though I was at one point in my life a com sci major, the idea that all should be made digital is, quite frankly, pretty damn stupid. The idea that we can and should dispose of the original paper records (and yes, even stop microfilming) just because there is some new technology out there borders on the baffling. Remember, at one point, the 5.5 inch floppies were “the way to go”. Nothing electronic lasts forever. It always has to be migrated somewhere down the the line. Final assessment – duplication is not only wise, it is necessary.

    Reply

  5. Mary Warner says:

    I wish there was a “like” button here, Mike, because I like your comment. 🙂

    Reply

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