It was a few years in the making, but a small town court in Herkimer County, NY has taken the first steps toward achieving a paperless office.
Why would a small-town court move toward a progressive solution? Time savings, a desire for increased efficiency, and, their paper records were beginning to overtake the available space in the office.
- Their new electronic document management system will eliminate countless hours of administrative paper-shuffling.
- The problem of sharing documents requested by federal agencies, and even among their own staff, will be solved.
- And the 300 square foot room that is filled with decades of court records will again enjoy the luxury of elbow room.
The court carefully reviewed various recommendations, including transferring the documents to microfilm, a medium which does boast longevity and versatility. (Note: A properly stored roll of microfilm can last upwards of 500 years, and no matter how technology changes, in a pinch you could always view microfilm with nothing more than a magnifying glass. This is part of the reason why microfilm was the first choice of archivists for over 150 years, although this has started to shift.)
However, although microfilm does offer some archival benefits, its limitations proved to be important to the court staff in the Town of Manheim.
- While viewing microfilm is simple, retrieval is still a major stumbling block. Even in a warehouse of properly stored canisters of film, you still need to locate the proper canister, then locate the needed record by viewing the film itself.
- Although microfilm may last up to 150 years, most documents carry a retention period of five to ten years. That tends to makes the shelf-life of microfilm overkill.
- Paper records still need to be converted to microfilm and the films themselves must still be stored in a safe, archival warehouse environment to protect the film from damage or loss. Therefore, the savings of archiving records are significantly limited.
The break came this year when the Justice Court Assistance Program (JCAP) grant that the court had been applying for came through. Since 1999, JCAP has been awarding grants of up to $30,000 to town and village courts for purposes ranging from office and security equipment to furniture to courtroom renovations. Many courts in the area have utilized this grant to update their records and put them in a digital format.
Aside from the service of having their boxes of historical records scanned by eBizDocs’ document imaging services staff, the grant also covered the implementation of an electronic document management solution from eBizDocs. This cost-effective tool provides record retrieval, easy document viewing and integrated document tracking and security within the software. They also opted to include in-house equipment such as document scanners to handle day-forward paper. Once the step was made to digitize their documents, it was hard to justify not implement a process that allowed the court to avoid creating more paper storage hassles by scanning new documents as they are received and saving electronic records to the system as they are generated.
If you are interested in back-file document scanning or going paperless, we’d love to talk with you and help you to find a solution that works best for you and your needs. Just use the form below to drop us a note and we’ll get back to you right away!