Licking County, Ohio is in the news for implementing digital preservation of public records. Katy Klettlinger, the lady behind the initiative, is the first Records Manager of the county. When she took up the position six years ago, she found records in the courthouse attic that dated back to the Civil War era. Since she started off the project to digitize these records, more than a million documents have been removed from storage centers across the county and digitally processed. The county now has a climate-controlled Records and Archives Center and an active document preservation program.
Enhanced Availability of Public Documents
The documents were subjected to cleansing and processing, before they were put in archival containers. Records are preserved in paper, electronic, and microfilm format.
The county is working towards the digitization of records to make it available online for research. As the first step, they are increasing access to catalogue of holdings. They have completed the cataloging of around 70% of the materials in the record center have digitized millions of documents.
Catalogues can be searched using keywords, title, description, dates, and so on. Though a few images are available online, search results provide links to order a copy of the record directly from the archives. Other than catalogue, researchers can easily find:
- The history of the county
- The history of the county infirmary
- The complete list of county records stored at other repositories
- An index to the burials in the county infirmary cemetery
After scanning, the documents are stored electronically on servers. Storage with microfilms is done off-site. The document conversion project will continue in the coming years as new county documents are created daily. However, Ohio law determines how long each document must be maintained.
The latest addition is a guide to the county court records at the archives that can trace the development of the courts from 1787 to the present. Apart from written information, there are audio recordings and explanations on how to use the records.
Though Klettlinger is leaving to join the State Library of Ohio soon, the project that she started off will continue. It is expected that the records management system will have a public records center as well as a universal electronic document management system to enhance public access to documents.