24 January 2018 | 10:00-16:45 London | Woburn House


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 yet the global inbox continues to expand, estimated recently to be around 246 billion new items every day. So how can we find and preserve the messages that really matter amidst all the spam?

The DPC is working with partners on the International Task Force on Technical Approaches to Email Archives. This Task Force shared its initial findings with the DPC in July 2017, and is now ready to present a close-to-finished draft with DPC members. This will allow challenges and concerns arising from DPC members to be explored more fully in the report. Some issues may be considered out of scope for the Task Force.  These can also be captured to support the drafting of a second edition of the popular DPC Technology Watch Report on ‘Email Preservation’ first published in 2011.

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 assess the state of frameworks, tools and approaches being taken toward email as a critical modern record, and will explore other organizational or policy-based barriers to effective email preservation and how these might be addressed

Presentations will:

  • Introduce the technical underpinnings of email as a data type and delineate the challenges associated with preservation
  • Review the Task force on Technical Approaches to Email Preservation
  • Present an emerging technical roadmap for the technologies that enable email management, preservation and access
  • Discuss and review non-technical challenges to the preservation of email.
  • Examine the regulatory, financial and cultural challenges organisations and individuals face when preserving or using email archives.
  • Report next steps for the roadmap and present work towards a revised Technology Watch Report

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.


DPC Members please login to read:  
Report Overview and Recommendations for Discussion at Digital Preservation Coalition Briefing Day



DPC Members please login to see recorded sessions

1000 – Registration open, tea and coffee

1030 – Welcome and Introductions (William Kilbride)

1035 – Introductory talk (Chris Prom, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and Kate Murray, Library of Congress)

1120 – Q&A

1130 – Using email archives in Research (James Baker, University of Sussex)

1200 – The reconstruction of narrative in E-Discovery investigation (Simon Attfield, Middlesex University and Larry Chapin, Attorney)

1230 – Email as corporate record (James Lappin)

1300 – Lunch

1400 – Jason R. Baron, Drinker Biddle LLP (by video conference)

1430 – Panel discussion introduced by Tim Gollins (National Records of Scotland): technology assisted review, fact, fiction or jam tomorrow and why this matters for email preservation

1515 – Coffee

1530 – Review of Report Recommendations and Roadmap (Chaired by William Kilbride)

1630 – Next steps

1645 – Close


Missed it?

DPC event attendees take great notes. Many thanks to James Baker and David Underdown for sharing theirs:


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