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These days, many items never are printed, remaining only in digital form. Consider all the photos snapped on phones, websites created by chapters, and electronic newsletters. These items, like their paper predecessors, should be retained in the chapter archive. Not only should a chapter have an archives for its paper-based materials, it should also have an electronic archive.


The Library of Congress has developed some helpful tips on establishing a digital archive. A chapter archivist should follow these steps:

  • Identify the digital records. Do you have emails, documents, video, and images in digital formats? Where are they stored? Are they on computers, discs, and on cameras? Bring it all together.

  • Decide what you want to keep. As with a paper-based archives, you do not need to keep everything. Keep in mind the types of items you are retaining in the paper-based archives and save the digital versions. Final versions are better than drafts. Review the images. Are they in focus? Do you have five of the same item? Pick the best and delete the others.

  • Organize. Establish a file structure, again patterning it after the paper-based archives. Establish a logical filenaming system. For instance, photos could be labeled using this format: 2014 October 25 CASA fundraiser 01.jpg, 2014 October 25 CASA fundraiser 02.jpg, etc. If you use photo sharing software/apps, use their tagging features to describe the images, including names when possible. Save documents and screen shots of web pages as PDFs to preserve the look and content of the material.

  • Back up. Theta chapters should consider using the Officer Portal (OP) for digital document storage. Best practices also recommend a "3-2-1" system for backing up the digital materials. Keep three copies of your digital records on two different formats (external drive and in the cloud for example), with one copy stored off-site. (The cloud can be considered off-site.)


  • Assume someone else is saving your chapter's digital records. Just as it is the chapter's responsibility to preserve its history in paper-based materials, it is also the chapter’s responsibility to preserve its digital materials.

  • Expect digital items to always be there. Hard drives go bad, SD cards get lost, and phones and cameras break. Establish a process to save digital records on a regular basis.

  • Keep passwords and usernames for chapter cloud storage to yourself. Make sure that your advisor, advisory board, or facility corporation officers have the information on hand to access the digital archive. Remember these items belong to the chapter, and those following you need to be able to access these materials.

Personal Digital Archiving (Library of Congress)