Archivists lose on appeal

The Boston Herald was one of many papers in the U.S. to pick up on this story.

A group of historians and librarians who oppose a rule that lets federal agencies destroy computer records as long as they keep a copy on paper or microfilm lost a Supreme Court appeal today.

The court, without comment, turned away an appeal in which the librarians and historians argued that paper records cannot be searched and indexed as easily as electronic records.

Federal law requires the National Archives to set standards for preserving government records. Agencies are barred from destroying records without the archives\' approval.

In 1995, the archives issued a rule intended to avoid overload in government agency computer systems.

The rule let agencies delete certain e-mails and other records from desktop computers once they are no longer useful to the agency and have been copied to the agency\'s official recordkeeping system. Such systems may be in electronic form, paper or microfilm.

The American Library Association, the American Historical Association and Ralph Nader\'s Public Citizen challenged the rule in federal court. They argued that computer records can reveal more than paper about the making of policy - about who saw and revised a document before it reached final form.

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