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What are public records and archival data?

___Public records are any records of a public entity (i.e., branch or office of government at any level) that are available to the public by law

___An archive is a storehouse - literal and/or electronic - of print and other material that has been kept in order to preserve the history of the body or place they relate to

Why use public records and archival data?

___They're relatively easy for most people to gain access to

___They can give you information about the history or status of the community that it would be difficult to get elsewhere

___They often make comparisons of your community with others

___They help you use your time efficiently

___Their information may keep you from making important mistakes

___They're part of an information package that, together with the other assessment strategies and tools you use, will give you the most accurate and most nearly complete picture of the aspects of the community - now and in the past - that you're concerned with

Who should use public records and archival data, and when?

___Any group or individual when they're involved in community assessment

___Community activists, when they want to understand their issue better and support their arguments with accurate facts and figures

___Community historians, when they need a picture not only of the "objective" history of the community - what groups settled when, what industries have been important, what important historical events took place there - but also of the human history

___Health and human service organizations and institutions, when prevention is the issue, or when there's a crisis or a problem in the community, it's important to have information about the current state of the community, its past history with particular issues, and previous prevention efforts or solutions

___Public officials and other policy makers, when engaged in community assessment or in trying to determine what's the best policy on a particular issue