Here are some specific examples of limited-scope systems that might be considered for early ERA pilots:
U.S. State Department cables. NARA is preparing to acquire digital forms of State Department diplomatic cables, which are simple text files. One pilot might focus on preserving these cables, extracting appropriate metadata automatically from the cables, perhaps providing full-text search, or other access appropriate to the collection. For quickest deployment, NARA might consider making these records available using software already developed for operating a digital library.
Records at the National Personnel Records Center. Military personnel records, traditionally stored on paper or microfilm, have more recently been managed by the Department of Defense as TIFF image files. There is interest in preserving these records in electronic form when they are transferred to NARA’s National Personnel Records Center. Containing millions of service and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans, these collections are large but homogeneous. Use and access considerations would be quite different than for the State Department cables because of confidentiality protections and the imperative to provide ready access to veterans or next of kin. Access controls would be required.
E-mail from the Clinton administration held by the Clinton Presidential Center. This collection would lead to experience with a broader and more modern range of data types, because it contains e-mail attachments of all sorts. Metadata could be extracted from the e-mail headers, full-text search could be provided, and so forth. This pilot would provide useful information on the range of data types attached to e-mail and how best to preserve and access these records.