Published: Oct. 26, 2010

Grant helping to preserve MSUís digital records

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University is using a federal grant to help preserve some of its most important digital records, including its catalog of academic programs.

The three-year, $251,079 grant is from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and is funding the “Spartan Archive,” a prototype of an electronic records archive for what are known as “born-digital” records.

During the three-year project, the University Archives and Historical Collections will test the sustainability of an archival solution designed to preserve four large electronic records series from the MSU Office of the Registrar: the full catalog of academic programs, the descriptions of courses offered each semester, the annual student directory and the schedule of courses.

“Education is the main business function of the university and the registrar’s office maintains the records of this function,” said UAHC Director Cynthia Ghering. “These are records of what the institution has been doing and they are invaluable.”

“While most units at MSU are storing their electronic records, we, like most institutions, need better ways to organize, manage and curate them over long periods of time,” said David Gift, vice provost for libraries, computing and technology. “This will be the focus of the work funded by this grant.”

It’s important that documents be kept in a manner in which they are available years down the road, said university archivist Lisa Schmidt.

“Technology changes over time,” she said, “and we want to make sure these records remain accessible.”

University archives is collaborating with a number of on-campus units on the project, as well as the Data Intensive Cyber Environments Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition, project progress and outcomes will be shared with members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of Big Ten schools and the University of Chicago.

The grant is the largest Electronic Records Projects grant awarded by the commission in 2010.

Several members of university archives, the registrar’s office and MSU’s IT staff contributed to the successful grant proposal, including Ghering; archivists Deborah Gouin, Richard Adler, Whitney Miller and Lisa Schmidt; information technologists Ajay Patel, Craig Rosenberger, Kristin Schuette and Jim Smith; and Traci Gulick, associate registrar for Student Academic Records.

University archives maintains MSU’s permanent records and provides management for the university’s inactive records. Areas of collection strength include the physical campus and grounds, early student life and campus publications.

In addition, university archives also maintains more than 700 historical collections that document Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

More information is available at


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.



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