Thursday, October 22, 2009

Washington State Digital Archives is Five Years Old

Wow has it been five years already, I was at the opening of the Washington State Digital Archives five years ago and so a few weeks ago I got an invitation to the Open House Thursday evening. You can find out more on the celebration on the From Our Corner Blog. I arrived about five minutes before it was to start and found a parking spot right by the front door, went inside and picked up my name tag and then stood around talking to the others there, while waiting for the ceremony to start.

Jerry Handfield the Washington State Archivist started out introducing people in the crowd that were elected officials or workers at the digital archives. Then Sam Reed the Secretary of State talked. Not long after he became Secretary of State the Eastern Region Archivist invited Sam to see the archives at Eastern Washington University, at that time the archives for the seven eastern Washington counties was housed under the basketball court floor, in a dark poorly lit and damp area filled with insects. So his next task was to get a new archives building and he had the idea to have it also hold digital records. Steve Excell the Assistant Secretary of State was put in charge and he said they looked on the internet for someplace that had a digital archives and found none. So with the help of Microsoft and another company that specialized in digital storage they built the worlds first digital archives. Since then people from all over the world have come to see how a digital archives works.
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Other speakers were Siri Woods, the Chelan County Clerk, hers is the first county to have all their county clerks records online at the digital archives. Jerry Pettit, Archives Oversight Committee Chair. Vicky Dalton, the Spokane County Auditor, and I was mentioned in her speech as a person that has helped both her department and the digital archives. Brian Peterson, from Ancestry was there as Ancestry and the Digital Archives are partnering to help get more records online. The Last Speaker was Tara Larson Mahoney from Microsoft. She talked a little on the new software from Microsoft that allows people to search digital recordings. The example is that our legislature has taped debates and hearings for years, but to find a single hearing on a bill would take a lot of work, this software will search the digital version of the tapes and find the correct one, all while you are sitting at home on your own computer. We then adjourned to the next room for a meal and then you had a chance to tour the archives, I had that tour last month so I skipped it this month.

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