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Getting Good at Email Acquisition: Building a Guide for the Practice

2h hybrid workshop with 20 in-person and 20 remote

Published onMay 22, 2024
Getting Good at Email Acquisition: Building a Guide for the Practice
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Successful preservation of any content is contingent on obtaining the material in the first place, and - ideally - doing so in a way that fits your organization’s long-term usability goals. Email collections of historic value present specific acquisition challenges to collecting institutions, raising a host of technical, legal, and ethical questions. While the tools and workflows for collecting email have steadily matured in recent years, there is still little guidance on how to acquire email collections in the first place.

An independent group of archivists and records managers representing leading university libraries, international centers for email research, corporate archives, and cultural heritage organizations (with members located across the US, Canada, and the UK) formed in 2021 to discuss these issues and have been compiling good practice recommendations into a guide for the benefit of other practitioners. This guide will be released as a draft in 2024 for community feedback.

This workshop will offer participants the opportunity to connect with peers and critically evaluate the draft release of the email acquisition good practice guide. Attendees should review the draft prior to attending the workshop and arrive prepared to discuss how the report corresponds with their experience of working with email collections and its prospective usefulness for future accessioning of email.

The workshop will begin with a brief overview of the guide, its background, and a high-level summary of its recommendations. Attendees will then circulate to stations based on specific sections of the guide and brainstorm what works well and what could be improved. Remote attendees will hold discussions in a parallel set of Zoom breakout rooms correlating to each section of the guide. At the end of the small group discussions, there will be a large group recap with breakout groups reporting their takeaways in a shared Google Document.

Intended audience

Because collecting email requires the input and expertise of a wide range of library and archives professionals, this workshop will appeal to a broad audience. We would welcome participation from practitioners who currently work with email archives as well as those who have not yet begun but would like to implement a program to collect them. We would also greatly appreciate the input of library and archives policymakers who have a stake in collecting email, researchers who seek to use email as a primary source, and experts with knowledge of the technical characteristics of email formats, storage, and transmission.

Come prepared

This workshop will introduce participants to our draft “good practices for acquiring email archives” working guide for acquiring and processing email collections. Prior to the conference, attendees will be invited to review and comment on the draft document.

At the conference, both in-person and virtual participants will learn about the proposed guide and engage directly with its authors. In small group conversations and in a general discussion, participants will reflect upon both the extent to which the report corresponds with their experience of working with email collections and its prospective usefulness for future accessioning of email.

Following the conference, we will share the revised report with participants in the workshop and encourage their continued involvement with refining, completing and disseminating the resulting “good practices” document.

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