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Overview: Electronic Archiving System (EAS)

EAS - the Electronic Archiving System was released on May 18, 2015 for Email Archiving

EAS is now available for use by the core group of curators who were involved as development partners during the pilot project. EAS manages and preserves email collections by enabling archival processing of email messages and attachments and automating the process of making deposits to Harvard's Digital Repository Service (DRS).

System Features

EAS integrates with other Harvard Library enterprise systems:

  • EAS works with Wordshack for vocabulary control — so that multiple email addresses and names referring to an individual or institutional unit resolve to the same record.
  • At the click of a mouse, email messages and attachments selected for long term preservation will be deposited to DRS - Harvard's Digital Repository Service.

EAS features include:

  • Normalization to EML -- an open standard for preservation (an extension of IMF RFC 5322) -- for long term preservation.
  • Summary views of the metadata associated with email or attachments within a result set.
  • Batch and item level processing options for archivists.

DRS was updated to interoperate with new EAS features, including:

  • Long term preservation of email and attachments in a secure environment approved for sensitive data.
  • Capture of essential rights management information using PREMIS.
  • Capture of significant events tracking to document deletions of email and attachments and format transformations such as the conversion of the native mail format to EML.

Email Archiving Project History

In March 2008, an Email Working Group at Harvard submitted a report to the University Library Council (ULC) that identified email as essential to documenting modern life and business including scholarly communications and the operations of the University. Head curators at the University then identified the capture and preservation of email as one of the highest priorities (along with web archiving) for born digital collections.

In January 2009, as a result of the report, the ULC funded an email archiving pilot project to create a pilot system that would handle ingest, archival processing, and long-term preservation in DRS of email content. Public delivery of email collections was intentionally not to be addressed as part of the pilot.

Having launched in May of 2015, EAS is now available for use by the core group of curators who were involved as development partners during the pilot project.
Initially, the project was a partnership between the Harvard University Library Office for Information Systems (OIS) and a number of curatorial partners from Harvard Library units. As the result of an organizational change, the project was moved to the new Harvard Library department of Preservation Services where the partnerships continued with the Harvard University Information Technologies Library Technology Systems (LTS, previously OIS) and curatorial partners from Harvard Library.

The first curatorial partners joined in 2009:

  • Countway Library at Harvard Medical School
  • Harvard University Archives
  • Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Other curatorial partners joined in 2011:

  • Loeb Library at the Graduate School of Design
  • Harvard Art Museums Archives

The curators –composed of archivists, records managers, librarians and technologists – helped define the functional requirements and participated in system testing and feedback for improvements.

Over the years, members of the team have exchanged information with other institutions working on email archiving and team members have presented the project in various forums. Andrea Goethals and Wendy Gogel wrote a paper on email archiving that Andrea presented at the International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects, iPRES 2010: http://www.ifs.tuwien.ac.at/dp/ipres2010/papers/goethals-08.pdf

Most recently, several members: presented the EAS project for an Email Archiving Interest Group organized by the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Standards and Practices Working Group; participated in an archiving email symposium co-hosted by the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration; and will present on a panel at the Society of American Archivists 2015 Annual Meeting with representatives from other institutions including Stanford University, Smithsonian Institution Archives, and University of Illinois. Harvard is a collaborator on Stanford's grant application to IMLS for funding to continue working on their ePADD project: https://library.stanford.edu/spc/more-about-us/projects-and-initiatives/epadd-project. Harvard participants would test and provide feedback on ePADD development.