Critically Endangered small

Records from local government (i.e., below the state level) which are required for transparency and may be in many diverse forms, but in which the local authority may lack the capacity to manage the complex digital preservation requirements that arise.

Group: Public Records

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

increased riskTrend towards greater risk

Previously: Critically Endangered


Trend in 2022:


increased riskTowards even greater risk


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is a priority.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, such as the development of new preservation tools or techniques.

Examples Born digital records of small and medium-sized agencies; fasting-changing internal manuals, advice or policies shared electronically; records of care services; Documentation supporting long-lived contractual relations like Public Finance Initiatives; Organizational Slack channels; network drives; EDRMS; Email.

‘‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Lack of preservation infrastructure; conflation of backup with preservation; loss of authenticity or integrity; Long-lived business processes; poor storage; churn of staff; significant volumes or diversity of data; poorly developed digitization; ill-informed records management; poorly developed migration or normalization; longstanding protocols or procedures that apply unsuitable paper processes to digital materials; encryption; political instability; lack of sustained funding.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Well managed data infrastructure; preservation enabled at the point of creation; carefully managed authenticity; use of persistent identifiers; finding aids; well managed records management processes; recognition of preservation requirements; strategic investment in digital preservation; preservation roadmap; participation in digital preservation community.

2021 Jury Review

This entry was added in 2019 as a subset of a previous entry for ‘Records of long duration from Local Government or Other Government Agencies’.  The split was intended to allow greater concentration on the challenges that these different types of agency face. Local government typically operates across a broad range of digital formats and services but it is unclear, and unlikely that relatively small archival agencies are properly funded locally to support the wide range of digital preservation requirements that arise. The 2020 Jury noted the trend towards greater risk based on 2020 being a year of significant political and economic upheaval, putting additional strain on local government and its agencies. In these circumstances already vulnerable records are likely to be at greater risk. The 2021 Jury similarly agree with the continuation of this trend over the last year. They also noted examples like Grenfell to demonstrate the precarity of local government records, especially when these risks overlap with records of non-governmental agencies, resulting significance and impact of loss, impetus for action and call to governing frameworks where failing in enforcement (and depending on jurisdiction).

2022 Trend

The 2022 Taskforce agreed on a trend towards even greater risk based on the precarity of local government records, especially when these risks overlap with records of non-governmental agencies, resulting in significance and impact of loss, the impetus for action and call to governing frameworks where failing in enforcement (and depending on the jurisdiction).

Additional Comments

Significant research by the UK National Archives into Local Government Archives in England underlines the digital skills shortages that exist, especially with respect to preservation.

There may be a benefit from splitting into a) legally required public record and b) additional information that may enrich our digital preservation of society. My assumption was that the roles and requirements for records management are clearly defined, but if this is not the case and there are inadequate resources to match the requirement, then the risk goes up.

Great to see local government records being escalated in 2022. We are working with local authorities here and I think the archivists have a big battle here and they need all the help they can get.

Case Studies or Examples:

  • The Grenfell Tower fire and Grenfell Tower Inquiry illustrate the precarity of local government records, especially when third-party contractors are involved. Not only does it show the potential impact of aggravating conditions for Records of Local Government, but it also applies to those of Records of Non-Governmental Agencies. See:

  • In Scotland, there is record keeping legislation that is relevant and governs some of this, such as the Public Records Scotland Act of 2011, online at

  • The work and outputs of the EDRMS Preservation Taskforce, such as the EDRMS Preservation Toolkit, may be helpful for guidance in this context

  • The Kickstart Cymru project, which builds on the work that has been undertaken in Wales to preserve and provide access to digital information now and in the future. Underpinned by the Digital Preservation Policy for Wales, it is a multi-stranded initiative involving archivists, researchers, consultants, students and IT professionals to promote digital preservation in the local authority, education and cultural sectors. This included funding for programme partnership of six archive services to support local government collaboration to solve shared problems with one issue identified being the need to provide long term access and to preserve records on business systems with operational lifespans less than the need to preserve the records. It is responsive to specific sectoral needs, but with an overarching aim of enhancing digital preservation capacity. Elements of the initiative include building skills; addressing specific digital preservation issues, co-creation of documentation and providing kits to undertaken practical preservation. See:

Scroll to top