Sunday, May 30, 2010

Preserving -- and hiding -- your personal e-records

Just in case you missed them, here are a couple of relatively new resources for people interested in preserving or securing their personal electronic records:
  • The Library of Congress recently added a new Personal Archiving: Preserving Your Digital Memories section to its Digital Preservation Web site. The section explains -- succinctly and in non-technical terms -- how to identify, organize, and store images, audio files, video files, e-mail messages, Web site files, and other types of personal electronic records. Although it touches only lightly upon the preservation challenges posed by file format issues, people who follow its advice will be well on their way to ensuring that their important digital files are preserved. Strongly recommended.
  • A couple of months ago, a Gizmodo post outlined how to minimize the chance that certain types of records become part of one's readily discoverable digital legacy. Thanks to the enhanced search capabilities of modern desktop operating systems, the time-honored practice of hiding files in innocuously named folders no longer works. This post outlines how individual Mac and Windows users can hide materials they would rather keep secret by changing file names and extensions, setting up encrypted personal archives, or using modern Web browsers' "private browsing" settings. None of these techniques will withstand forensic analysis, but they will hide files from other casual users of one's computer. Also strongly recommended -- and be sure to check out the comments, some of which contain detailed and knowledgeable technical advice.
Update, 2010-05-31: I should have specified that the Gizmodo post focuses upon concealing materials of an, um, mature nature. However, the advice it dispenses could be used to manage all kinds of other materials (e.g., surprise party plans, financial records) that a person might want to hide from other users of his or her computer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Documenting Leadership: getting gubernatorial records right

New York State’s recent gubernatorial history isn’t particularly well-documented. The state’s current governors’ records law, which was first enacted in 1858, allows outgoing governors to do whatever they wish with their records, and one former governor transferred some records to the New York State Archives but may have taken other records with him when he left office. Another is still hanging onto his official records. Yet another left Albany unexpectedly and in great haste, and his successor is still actively using his records.

The records of most 20th-century governors are better preserved, but they’re literally all over the place: the gubernatorial records of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1929-1932) and W. Averill Harriman (1955-1958) are now held by the State Archives, but the records of Herbert Lehman (1933-1942), Charles Poletti (1942), Thomas E. Dewey (1943-1954), Nelson A. Rockefeller (1959-1973), Malcolm Wilson (1973-1974), and Hugh L. Carey (1975-1982) are held by other repositories throughout the state.

Dick Thornburgh

There are a number of reasons for this situation, among them the aforementioned gubernatorial records law and the newness of the state’s archival program, which was established in 1978; New York may be one of the original 13 colonies, but the New York State Archives is the nation’s youngest state archives. However, the Documenting Leadership symposium, and in particular the remarks of Michael Whiteman (Whiteman, Osterman, and Hanna), who worked for Governors Rockefeller and Wilson, and the keynote address by former Pennsylvania Governor (1979-1987) and U.S. Attorney General (1988-1991) Dick Thornburgh shed light on some of the factors that, in the absence of good records laws, promote the preservation of gubernatorial records:

A general appreciation of history and historical research. Thornburgh is a lifelong reader of history books, and noted that he was struck by the high value that authors place upon archival records documenting the thoughts and actions of their subjects. Moreover, he drew upon his own records when writing a book, and several researchers wanted access to them shortly after he left public life.

A sense of one’s own place in history. Michael Whiteman noted that it’s not surprising that the Rockefeller and Wilson administrations are likely among the best-documented in New York State’s history: Rockefeller was the scion of one of the nation’s most prominent families and clearly believed that he was doing significant things. Thornburgh led the state’s response to the partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, and although he did not discuss the impact that this experience had upon him, it may have helped him see himself a shaper, not a mere observer, of history. However, he did note he saw his archives as one means of ensuring that his legacy would not be left entirely to “the tender mercies of the media.”

A propensity to keep, not toss, stuff. Thornburgh is a self-described “pack rat,” and at the time he became governor, he had a large collection of materials relating to an unsuccessful Congressional campaign stored in his attic. They ended up in the hands of a family friend -- now his official archivist -- who spent the next eight years organizing them. The friend then went on to care for his gubernatorial records and to oversee their transfer to the Pennsylvania State Archives and to help him establish a permanent archival home for his voluminous personal papers.

Willingness to live with a little embarrassment. Thornburgh has concluded that the benefits of allowing researchers to access files reflecting his status as the client of a private attorney or gubernatorial counsel outweigh the risk that embarrassing information might come to light. Of course, governors who have left public life are more likely to take this view; those who still harbor political ambitions will likely be less relaxed about the thought of allowing unfettered access to their official records.

Ongoing involvement in and support of archival programs. As Michael Whiteman noted, Nelson Rockefeller and other members of the Rockefeller family established the Rockefeller Archive Center in order to ensure that their activities and those of the philanthropic organizations were properly documented. Working with the University of Pittsburgh Library System, Thornburgh developed a full-fledged archival program that focuses on his personal papers and those of former colleagues. He has been active in raising the funds needed to staff the program and hold public events, publish a newsletter, give awards to law students seeking to enter public service and to professors who use archival records as teaching materials, and digitize the collections. In both instances, the level of personal commitment to sustaining an archival program -- and to ensuring that gubernatorial records are supplemented by personal papers that document the broader context of a governor’s life and work -- is pretty impressive.

I nonetheless remain convinced that the above things work best when combined with, not forced to serve as substitutes for, modern public records laws and effective records management. A strong tradition of proper management, preservation, and provision of access to gubernatorial records -- another thing that New York State lacks -- also helps.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Documenting Leadership: media and records

One of the benefits of blogging is its real-time nature: stuff happens, and posts follow almost almost immediately afterward. One of the drawbacks of blogging its its real-time nature: a lone blogger can only do so much. At the end of an intense week, I “desymposed” by watching part of the first season of The X Files on DVD and playing Google’s Pac Man game, the disappearance of which is both an annoyance and a relief. As a result, I’m running behind. However, I hope that this post and its successors will be better for having been written by someone took some time to reflect on what transpired.

One of the most entertaining sessions at the Documenting Leadership symposium centered upon journalists’ use of government records. The panelists were sharp, funny, and expressed a range of perspectives. A number of themes came to the fore:

A reporter’s background knowledge is indispensable. Mickey Carroll (Quinnipiac University Polling Institute) emphasized that most reporters don’t have time to sift through records. They do broad reading, cultivate reliable sources, and draw upon their knowledge of the players and their context-- which takes young reporters a long time to develop -- in order to make sense of the tidbits of information they find.

Rex Smith, Ethan Riegelhaupt, and Mickey Carroll

Records are the lifeblood of investigative journalism. Sandra Peddie (Newsday) asserted that as investigative reporter, she has both the time to file freedom of information requests and the obligation to “get things right.” Government records were at the coreof her exposes of state pension system abuses and the inner workings of some of Long Island’s “special districts,” and she’s currently fighting to obtain records documenting the inner workings of the office of Suffolk County Executive (and gubernatorial candidate) Steve Levy. Ethan Riegelhaupt (New York Times), whose employer has the resources needed to sustain in-depth investigative journalism and mine government databases, concurred, as did Peter Elkind (Fortune), whose biography of Eliot Spitzer relies heavily upon records that illuminated the complexities of his subject’s political decisions and motives.

The needs of government and the press sometimes conflict. Riegelhaupt noted that as former government counsel, he understood that officials need space to determine policy and that closed-door meetings are sometimes necessary; as a newspaper attorney, he also recognized the need for access to information. However, Elkind stressed that although we seem to have reached a point where day-to-day, intense coverage of politics has gotten in the way of getting things done, officials are responsible for running the government and reporters are responsible for unearthing and disseminating information about government.

Proactive disclosure is a good thing. Noting that President Obama has directed federal agencies to disclose federal records in anticipation of receipt of freedom of information requests, Mark Mahoney (Glens Falls Post-Star) asserted that he wanted to see state and local government do the same. Moderator Rex Smith (Albany Times-Union) also endorsed this practice, which may sometimes displease journalists: the city of Chicago has just started posting summary information about all of the freedom of information requests it receives, and as a result the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times can no longer hide their probes from one another.

Peter Elkind, Mark Mahoney, and Sandra Peddie

Freedom of information laws aren’t perfect. Elkind was stunned to discover that the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) permitted the withholding of records that, in his view, should have been disclosed and that the law doesn’t cover legislative records. Caroll noted that the law itself may have had an inhibiting effect: prior to FOIL’s enactment in the 1970s, many government officials were actually more willing to share records with reporters than they are now.

Journalists are still trying come to terms with the new information ecosystem. Riegelhaupt noted that everyone is still grappling with the implications of having ready access to vast quantities of information and to the perspectives not only of officials and reporters but also of millions of other people. Mahoney noted that in this environment, engaging readers on a personal level -- via blogs such as his (highly recommended) Your Right to Know -- is essential. Riegelhaupt emphasized that the changes are going to be even more profound: newspapers and other media outlets can now publish the texts of officials’ speeches, copies of government databases, and large quantities of other government records. As a result, their Web sites will both serve as the first draft of history. Peddie noted that when newspapers put electronic government records on their Web sites, these sites become important public access points. As a government archivist, I have concerns about ceding this role to the media, but I also understand that the media also has an interest in providing authentic information and that most people will view media sites as sufficiently trustworthy.

Archivists must also come to grips with this new ecosystem. Smith and Riegelhaupt mentioned in passing that archivists are going to have to grapple with whether and how to preserve Web sites, blogs, and other new information resources. As New York State Archivist Chris Ward pointed out, the New York State Archives is working on it -- and so is the profession as a whole. Not surprisingly, journalists also want faster, easier access to the records that archivists have. Mahoney stressed that reporters really appreciate ready access to digitized records: they’re a big help to people who have tight deadlines, and they enable readers to evaluate the quality of reporting. We’re working on that, too -- even if scarce resources force us to move slowly than anyone would like.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Documenting Leadership: keynote and first session

Today was the first day of Documenting Leadership: A Symposium on Public Executive Records in the 21st Century. About 100 journalists, current and former public officials, policy researchers, archivists, and records managers were present, and more will be coming tomorrow.

I’ve had a very long day -- it began at 8:00 AM and ended at 8:30 PM, and the festivities begin again tomorrow at 8:00 AM -- so this post is going to focus on today’s keynote address and the first panel discussion. I’ll be playing catch-up tomorrow and over the weekend.

Richard Norton Smith

Richard Norton Smith, who has written biographies of several presidents and New York governors Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Dewey and who is currently working on a biography of Nelson Rockefeller, got the day off to a great start: Noting that 16 U.S. Presidents have had gubernatorial experience, he asserted that the fact that 4 of these presidents came from New York really shouldn’t be surprising: New York’s governors have reformed the civil service, altered industrial and labor practices, spearheaded mammoth public work projects, oversaw the development of an effective public health system, championed civil rights, and fought water and air pollution. For decades, New York functioned as the laboratory for federal reform.

He then discussed how his research has led him to value both archival records, which shed unique light on the personal qualities of executive leaders and the nuances of their thoughts and deeds, and oral histories, which may be flawed but help to fill in the gaps in the documentary record. I was particularly struck by his assertions concerning executive leaders’ attitudes toward their records: in his experience, presidents think they did a pretty good job, and they don’t lie awake trying to figure out how to cover up their mistakes or misdeeds. However, they do lie awake thinking of how to prove the Washington Post and the New York Times wrong. Noting that history is always more generous than headline writers, he expressed the hope that New York’s governors would eventually recognize that history is not a continuation of the New York Post.

Robert Ward and Robert Sink

Some of the themes that Smith touched upon returned during the first panel discussion of the day, “Public Policy and the Public Interest.” Robert Ward (Rockefeller Institute of Government) highlighted several factors that may help to account for the divergence between federal and New York State laws governing executive records: declining gubernatorial and legislative interest in tackling the large-scale issues that commanded the attention of the state’s governors for much of the 20th century, the “broad degrading” of political discourse, the State Legislature’s efforts to limit executive power, and growing disbelief in the value of public institutions. Moderator Rex Smith (Albany Times-Union) noted that the relatively new but widely held belief that government is inherently ineffective has also contributed to the situation.

Rex Smith and Ned Regan

Former State Comptroller Ned Regan (Baruch College, CUNY), who transferred his official records to the State Archives when he left office and periodically consults them, asserted that New York’s political circumstances may also be to blame. New York is a “strong governor” state, and its current “three men in a room” approach to politics -- only the governor, the Senate majority leader, and the Assembly speaker wield any real power -- emerged because it’s the only way that the legislative branch can stand up to the executive. However, this system breeds legislative dysfunction, and the fate of executive records is one of many important matters that legislators have not addressed. Robert Ward, who asserted that the “three men in a room” phenomenon is rooted in legislators’ self interest and their constituents’ failure to hold them to account, agreed that legislative dysfunction helps to account for the state’s failure to modernize laws relating to executive records.

Gerald Benjamin (SUNY New Paltz), who will participate in one of tomorrow’s panels, offered an interesting comment from the floor: unlike Smith, whose work centers upon people who have been out office for some time, he’s found that executives dealing with the day-to-day grind of politics often have a short-term interest in tampering with the historical record. Moreover, New York is facing an even more unsettling problem: loss of institutional capacity to deal with records. Responding in part to this comment, Ned Regan offered an incisive observation: “systems are more important than competence.” Indeed: while at the reception, a colleague and I concluded it’s better for an organization to have a long-lived, workaday records management program than to have a records management dynamo whose influence fades after his or her departure.

In retrospect, I’m kind of surprised that none of the panelists devoted much attention to Watergate. I’ve always suspected that one of the reasons that New York lacks a strong executive records law is that, to date, it hasn’t had a governor who has abused the powers of the office as egregiously as Richard Nixon abused those of the presidency. However, all of the other factors identified by the panelists -- the narrowed focus of gubernatorial and legislative effort, the strident tone of current political discourse, cynicism about government, and legislative dysfunction -- are certainly in play.

Robert Sink (formerly of the New York Public Library) highlighted how the problems identified by the other panelists fed a scandal centering upon municipal executive records. New York City had a weak public records law and a weak archival program and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was intent upon reorganizing city government and had a “defiant attitude” toward the concept of freedom of information, slashed funding for the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS), appointed a commissioner who had no archival or records management experience, and sought to rob it of its independence.

As Mayor Giuliani was preparing to leave office, he asserted that DORIS, which lost half of its staff as a result of budget cuts that he himself had made, couldn’t properly care for his records. He wanted to transfer them to a non-profit organization that bore his name, allow the organization to limit access to certain materials, and engage an archival consulting firm to process them; it soon came to light that he had offered his records to several non-governmental repositories, all of which turned him down.

These actions prompted a public outcry, and the records were returned to DORIS after processing. However, the city has not substantially increased support for DORIS, and its public records law, while strengthened, is still relatively weak. Moreover, even though a reputable archival consulting firm processed the records, the possibility remains that the records were “cleansed” while they were outside public control. If New York City had a strong public records law and a strong government archival program that was insulated from political pressure, the integrity of the records wouldn’t be subject to question.

A lively discussion of the merits of preserving public records in public archives ensued. Bob Sink noted that if a gubernatorial administration works with state archives staff to manage the transfer of records, the records’ chain of custody will be firmly established. Moreover, New York’s state archivist is not a political appointee, and the State Archives itself is not directly controlled by the governor. Archivists in the audience pointed out that state archives are repositories of other government records and knowledge of the workings of state government and that, unlike some private repositories that mandate that the archivists who process a politician’s records share that politician’s political views, they do not factor political beliefs into their hiring decisions.

All in all, a great start. More tomorrow . . . .

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

PLANETS Digital Genome TimeCapsule

The PLANETS (Preservation and Long-term Access through Networked Services) project, a European Union-supported digital preservation initiative, is coming to an end. The sixteen PLANETS project partners have developed a variety of planning tools, open source software programs, a testbed environment that other repositories can use. They've also produced presentations and papers on a variety of topics ranging from preservation metadata to salvaging of old digital materials and various digital preservation strategies. (FYI, Chris Prom over at Practical E-Records is reporting the results of his tests of various PLANETS products.)

In an effort to highlight the challenges associated with digital preservation, earlier today the PLANETS project placed a Digital Genome TimeCapsule in Swiss Fort Knox, a secure data storage facility housed in a former military nuclear bunker. (Photos of the capsule

The capsule consists of a metal box that contains the following items:
  • Digital objects that are at risk of being lost: a digital photograph (.jpg format), a message (Java), a short digital film (.mov format), a Web page (HTML), and a brochure (.pdf).
  • Versions of these objects that have been converted to file formats that are better suited to long-term preservation (e.g., PDF/A, TIFF).
  • Storage media on which the files comprising these objects have been placed.
  • Hardware and software (including operating system software) needed to read the media.
  • Copies of the conversion tools used to create the preservation versions of these objects.
  • Descriptions of the objects' file formats and the storage media file systems and encodings.
  • Information about the relationship between the objects, supporting technology, and recognized standards.
When the capsule is opened, future researchers will be able to determine how many of the objects can be accessed using only the equipment and information it contains.

PLANETS staff will soon post copies of the digital objects, tools, and information contained within the capsule to the Web so that other researchers can experiment with them well before the capsule is opened. Archives, libraries, and other cultural heritage institutions will also be able to obtain copies of the capsule's contents for exhibition purposes.

The capsule highlights, in a very stark manner, the challenges of digital preservation: PLANETS participants anticipate that future researchers who attempt to access these digital objects using only the hardware, software, storage media, and documentation contained within the capsule will encounter an ever-increasing number of ever-worsening problems. Of course, people struggling to access older data that lacks such extensive documentation will find it even more difficult to do so.

We need more projects of this nature: time capsules containing other types of digital objects, storage media, software, hardware, and documentation should be placed in Iron Mountain and other underground storage facilities throughout the world and to have copies of the materials in these capsules should be made readily accessible. Having access to a large and varied sets of test records whose properties are known and fully documented will be a boon to future digital preservation researchers, and the contents of the capsules themselves may prove invaluable in the event of a catastrophe. (Don't laugh: statistically speaking, we really are overdue for a deadly pandemic, and the next global war will likely have a nuclear component).

Moreover, journalists seem to like producing stories about time capsules, and inviting the media to watch the placement of a capsule in an underground storage facility gives archivists, librarians, computer scientists and other researchers the chance to explain why digital preservation is so difficult. Here's hoping that national archives and libraries and academic institutions outside of Europe step up to the plate and start creating capsules of their own.

Monday, May 17, 2010

New York State Archivist Chris Ward on gubernatorial records

Last Friday evening, New York State Archivist Chris Ward appeared on Capital Tonight, YNN Albany's statewide public affairs program, to discuss gubernatorial recordkeeping practices in New York State, proposed legislation concerning gubernatorial records management and transfer of archival gubernatorial records to the State Archives, and an upcoming symposium on electronic records. In the process of doing so, she explained -- in clear and easy-to-grasp terms -- what the New York State Archives does and why preserving gubernatorial records is so important. It's a nice segment, even if the quality of the video that Capital Tonight posted to YouTube leaves something to be desired.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reminder: Executive Records Symposium, Albany, New York, May 20-21

The New York State Capitol, as seen from the Empire State Plaza, 24 November 2008.

If you have a personal or professional interest in ensuring that the official records of presidents, governors, attorneys general, mayors, and other elected executives are preserved and made accessible, you might want to come to Albany, New York on 20-21 May -- and make arrangements to do so by 17 May.

The records of elected executives document important policy and resource allocation decisions. However, in New York and many other states, the records of elected executives are not always transferred to the state archives or to other repositories. The gaps in New York State laws concerning the disposition of gubernatorial records have gotten some media attention lately, but other states, local governments, and the federal government face similar problems. Moreover, many executive records are now created or maintained in electronic systems; as a result, the days of acquiring executive records via dumpster diving or negotiation with an executive's heirs are pretty much over.

On 20-21 May 2010, the New York State Archives Partnership Trust and the Albany Law School’s Government Law Center will join forces to highlight the need for effective executive recordkeeping at all. Documenting Leadership: A Symposium on Public Executive Records in the 21st Century will explore the importance of preserving the records generated by governors and other elected public executives, including presidents, attorneys general, and mayors.

Former U.S. Attorney General and Governor of Pennsylvania Richard Thornburgh will deliver the symposium's keynote address, "The Legacy of an Executive: A Governor’s Perspective," and nationally recognized Presidential historian Richard Norton Smith will deliver an address entitled "Telling the Executive Story: The Thrill of the Chase."

In addition, attorneys, journalists, and past and current government officials will take part in panel discussions focusing on:
  • Public Policy and the Public Interest
  • Transparency, Executive Records, and the Media
  • Executive Records: Access and Disclosure
  • Access in the Digital Age
  • Executive Records as Legacy
This event, which will be held at Albany Law School, is free and open to the public and will include a May 20th reception at the Governor's Mansion. However, attendees must register by May 17. Click here for online registration, detailed location information, and the full program.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


It's kind of surprising that the situation in Nashville hasn't gotten more attention: the city and surrounding communities are experiencing a 500-year flood. At least 10 people in the city have died as a result of the severe storms that swept through the region over the weekend; people elsewhere in Tennessee and in Kentucky and Mississippi also lost their lives. At the time of this writing, the city's historic district, landmarks such as the Grand Ole Opry, and other neighborhoods are still flooded. Recovery will likely take years.

At present, it's hard to tell just how badly the city's archives and other cultural heritage institutions have been affected by the flood. Parts of the city are still off-limits to everyone except emergency personnel, residents are being encouraged to stay off the roads, and many archivists, librarians, and curators are focused -- and rightfully so -- on making sure that their loved ones are safe or on salvaging what they can from their flood-damaged homes.

Word is starting to get out via e-mail and the Web sites of repositories in the area:
However, at this time, the status of many cultural heritage institutions in the area remains unknown. Some might have escaped the floods with little or no damage, but some may have been devastated. I'm really hoping that the Grand Ole Opry Photo Archives is not housed in the now-flooded Grand Ole Opry complex, but my outsider's suspicion is that it is. Other institutions and music venues whose business records warrant permanent preservation are likely affected as well; some legendary clubs have suffered extensive damage.

Wondering how you can help? A number of reputable organizations are accepting donations earmarked for flood victims, and the Society of American Archivists' National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives provides financial support for disaster recovery activities.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

The first day of May means different things to different people. In Europe and the United Kingdom's former colonies of settlement, it's a day marked by Roman Catholic celebrations of the Virgin Mary or secular springtime festivities. In many parts of the world -- but not the United States -- today is Labor Day or International Workers Day. This year, May 1 also marks the running of the Kentucky Derby, which is always held on the first Saturday in May.

Archivists throughout the world observe the first of May in various ways. If my archivist friends on Facebook are any indication, many of them celebrate the coming of spring at the same time as they ponder the history of labor activism (or snicker at the hats worn by some Kentucky Derby spectators). Some of them are also making their way home after having attended the Western Roundup or the spring meetings of the Mid-Atlantic Archives Conference or the Society of Southwest Archivists.

However, for American archivists, in particular, the first day of May has another meaning: it's a time to focus on emergency preparedness. May Day, which is sponsored by the Society of American Archivists, the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, and the Council of State Archivists, grew out of the post-Hurricane Katrina discovery that most American archives either don't have disaster plans or have plans that were developed a long time ago and never updated.

All too often, emergency preparedness takes a back seat to providing reference services, preparing exhibits, responding to Freedom of Information requests, or tackling any one of the many, many other urgent tasks that come our way. However, caring for our collections is one of our most basic professional obligations, and May Day gives us the opportunity to devote some attention to doing so.

I know it's Saturday, and I know it's springtime, but consider taking a few minutes to update your list of emergency contacts (you really should keep a copy at home) or mentally preparing to set aside a little time next week to review your existing disaster plan, confirm that your collections are boxed up and off the floor, or make sure that supplies, not collections, are housed on the shelves directly under those pipes. If you've already done all of these things (good for you!), the Society of American Archivists has a great list of more great May Day ideas.

You might also want to devote a few minutes to thinking about how your personal records. When was the last time you backed up your hard drive, and where exactly are you storing your backup copies? Do you know exactly where your birth certificate, passport, and other essential records are, and could you retrieve them quickly in the event of an emergency? What about those old, loose family photographs you've never gotten around to rehousing? You might not be able to tackle them today, but you probably could order the necessary supplies.

I'm observing May Day by pulling together a master list of select colleagues' home and work phone numbers and e-mails; at present, I keep some of this information in my work ID/cardkey holder, but other snippets are scattered across my personal computer's hard drive, my work e-mail, and my personal e-mail. I'm also reminding myself to set aside a few minutes this week to make sure that the emergency contact information posted next to our electronic records equipment is up-to-date and to skim through my repository's emergency plan. How will you observe May Day?