May 22, 2022

National Archives (NARA) Releases Edition of “Essential Records Guide Update”

From the NARA “Records Express” Blog:

We are pleased to announce a new edition of NARA’s Essential Records Guide (August 2018), formerly known as the Vital Records Guide. The original Vital Records Guide was written in 1996 and had not been revised in the intervening 22 years. Obviously much has changed since the original publication, such as terminology. One clear example, “vital” is giving way to “essential” as the preferred term.

Other changes include:Image of the Cover of the revised Essential Records Guide

  • more information on modern formats such as electronic records;
  • lessons learned from recent disasters;
  • providing optional tools for use by agencies in managing their essential records;
  • replacing obsolete information;
  • downsizing the publication from 90 pages to 60 pages;
  • use of photos and illustrations; and
  • extensive use of links to citations, standards, useful websites, etc.Perhaps the biggest change is this version of the Essential Records Guide now incorporates extensive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidance on related content. The Guide serves as a comprehensive resource for Federal government essential records. If the content is not specifically incorporated into the publication, a link is provided to the applicable guidance.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.