records and information management

Records and information management professionals know the critical components of a RIM program:

  • Assigned roles and responsibilities
  • Retention and Disposal schedules
  • Legal hold mechanism
  • Data classification schema
  • Training



But what is often missed is something simple: awareness and accessibility.

Combine these elements with a treasure trove of information, collected over dozens of years, that needs to be universally accessible yet preserved for all time.

Now you have the situation faced at Berea College in Kentucky.

Berea is unique: it was the South’s first co-educational and interracial college. Students do not pay tuition—but most show great academic promise and have limited resources to attend college. All students work to help pay for other costs.



Technical Challenges

As part of the Appalachian Mountain Region, Berea has collected extensive materials that document traditional music and culture from the area—banjo, fiddle, spoken word, old radio programs, oral history, and Appalachian personalities. Many of these archives are simply not documented anywhere else.

Prior to 2000, the primary aim was preservation of these materials in their native formats

Plus providing copies to fight degradation of source material. As the collection continued to grow, however, digital copies were made. And the collection continued to grow, and grow—from a 500-GB server, to a 1,000-GB (1 terabyte) of capacity, and continuing all the way up to a 10-TB capacity.


In 2015, Berea made the decision to move a cloud-based preservation system. This decision offered several benefits:

  • Storing on the cloud would allow universal access for students, scholars, and historians
  • Cloud storage was more economical than increasing server capacity
  • The collection was continuing to grow, so offsite cloud storage offered the opportunity to do this seamlessly

Berea wanted to make sure the interface to access the archives was user-friendly.

And that the preservation system integrated easily with the existing IT structure. And the migration had to be perfectly planned in order to lose nothing in the process. Berea hired specialists to assist in the data migration and system set-up, but were able to accomplish much of the process in-house.



Fast forward to 2016

The Berea collection now exceeds 100 TB, and is available to anyone at It’s been accessed by scholars around the world– quite an achievement and triumph of technology that was leverage by a small liberal arts school in Kentucky with an enrollment of 1,600.


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