6 July 2017 | 10:00 - 16:00 (UK) Richmond, Surrey | The National Archives, Kew

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Email, the quintessential record of our age, is surprisingly hard to preserve.  This relatively straightforward task is an encounter with all the open challenges and operational difficulties of practical digital preservation.  Email messages go through so many processes from creation to delivery, and with so many variations of attachment, that they can be technically hard to capture; they contain any amount of personal and sensitive data wrapping them in legal and regulatory complexity; and they occur in a profusion that is hard to comprehend. The death of email has long been anticipated and yet the global inbox continues to expand, estimated recently to be around 246billion new items every day.  That’s a new email every 42 minutes every day for every single human being on the planet.  So how can we find the messages that really matter amidst all the spam?  How do we ensure their survival?

In 2011, the DPC published a Technology Watch Report that explored the themes of email preservation, with a recommendation that the digital preservation community work diligently and collaboratively to advance new solutions and advocate their adoption.  What advances can we report, and what new challenges have arisen?

This DPC briefing day, offered in partnership with the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, will explore emerging technologies and tools used to ensure that email can be preserved as a record for the long term.  It will introduce and review the work so far of the US-based ‘Task Force on Technical Approaches to Email Preservation’, currently assessing frameworks tools and approaches being taken toward email as a critical modern record. 

Presentations will:

  • Introduce the technical underpinnings of email as a data type and delineate the challenges associated with preservation
  • Introduce the Task force on Technical Approaches to Email Preservation
  • Present case studies and example of good practice in email preservation
  • Present an emerging technical framework for the technologies that enable email management, preservation and access
  • Discuss and review a roadmap to fill gaps in the preservation of email and take action to ensure that this work is sustained
  • Examine the regulatory, financial and cultural challenges organisations and individuals face when preserving or using email archives.

Attendees will be given prior access to a summary of the Task Force’s report and will be asked to offer comment and review.

Who should come?

This workshop will interest:

  • Collections managers, librarians, curators and archivists in all institutions
  • Records managers in institutions with a need for long-lived data
  • CIOs and CTOs in organisations with particular dependence on email as a record
  • Vendors and developers with digital preservation solutions
  • Scholars, especially historians with interests in email as an historical source
  • Journalists, forensic investigators or e-discovery lawyers who access and preserve email for evidential purposes.

Indicative Programme 

1000 – Registration open, tea and coffee

1030 – Welcome and Introductions

1040 – Introductory talk

1120 – Q&A

1130 – Case study 1: Preservation and technology

1155 – Case study 2: Email as corporate record

1220 – Case study 3: Users and access

1245 – Q&A

1300 – Lunch

1400 – Email Task force themes

1430 – Technology Road map

1500 – Coffee

1530 – Review and discussion

1630 – Next steps and thanks

1645 – Close


Registration is free for members of the DPC and £275 for non-members. There is a limit of 3 places per member (incl. consortia and membership organisations) and these will be available on a 'first come, first served' basis. Additional registrations will be accepted but will be placed on the wait list until registration closes a week before the event, at which time they will be distributed equally amongst members.


The event is expected to fill up quickly, so early registration is recommended. DPC members can claim their free place by entering the discount code DPCMEMBER.

Cancellations will be accepted until one week before the event, a 'no show' fee of £275 will be charged for those who cancel after this time.

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