Hi All,

I wondered if I could get a feel for how others in smaller organisations, educational or otherwise, might be handling the distinction between their archival holdings and their record management practices.  Particularly as we march into the digital realm of capturing email correspondence, reports, etc. while they are still current 'active' institutional records before they make their way towards permanent retention.

There's obviously a great need for the archival voice early on to ensure the relevant material is not disposed of that will eventually become part of a collection.  I know Steve S. at Loreto straddles this role, coming with qualifications in that area, but I'm wondering about others examples.  Particularly:

* Does the archivist manage the current record management of the institution? 

* If not, who?  Administration? IT?  

* Are these internal departments (if not archival) responsible for assessing material for retention/ disposal, and overseeing that process?

* Is there a specific Records Officer/ Record Managerial role in your institution?  Is it fractional? Was it contractual to establish the process, but now managed internally?

Obviously in the larger bodies close by, such as the University of Melbourne, records management is a clearly distinct department, though obviously working in discussion with the University's archives.

But in the smaller organisations, the situation is obviously quite varied depending on the need and perhaps professional experience of those in the archival role.  Would welcome seeing what models are being used out there.

Cheers

Ben

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  • Even if, as archivists, you dont have the delegated responsibility (or time) to address records management in practical terms, there is still a lot of influence you can have when talking to staff in your organisation about recordkeeping issues more broadly.

    Explain the life cycle of records. Explain the Records Continuum. Bring it to life by relating it to their own work and their own concerns. Explain appraisal.

    The other staff are not stupid, they are just hugely busy and dont want something which will be an added work load.

    But if you can engage their minds and their imagination, and yes frighten them somewhat at the prospect of loss of records, especially in the light of the Royal Commission. If you can get that dialogue going, and if you show an interest in their RK concerns as well, they you have educated an advocate for records mgt in the heart of the records creation process.

    That staff member might be the one who says: Hang on, dont get rid of that without speaking with the archivist.

    Be an evangelist for record-keeping, and get that message across to everyone you speak with in your organisation. I try to find an RK message in every conversation I have. Folk laugh about it, but they also know I am speaking sense.

  • The perception that records management is not a priority in organizations is still prevalent especially from management.Sumners (2010) observed that usually about the only time records management is discussed in a staff meeting is when some crisis has occurred for example when a file cannot be located and the officer has been summoned to be told of his/her weaknesses and failures (Mnjama and Sebina 2001). The bottom line is that a records management policy is generally lacking and this view is supported by evidence from the literature. This confirms Gibson (2012)’s experiences that records management is seen as a concept that can be “placed” into an organization as if it were a teapot on a breakfast table. Mpho and Ngulube (2013) also observed that in view of that fact records management is not regarded as an essential component for corporate governance it is thus a footnote or better still a forgotten function in government administration in South Africa. The bottom line is that there is a lot of myth and misunderstanding of what records management does, why it is needed and who it is really for (Gibson 2012). I am doing reserach on records management practices in religious institutions and these findings from the literature testify - there seems to be disconnectedness between records management and archives management as there is no sytematic transfer of records to the archives - the effect is that the documentation in custody is incomplete especially in small archives.

  • I think its vitally important that anyone involved with archives, especially if you are a lone arranger in a big institution, needs to instil the fact that records created now and today will be deposited into the archives and as such, appraisal of records must and should occur when the records are created to ensure they are kept for the specified period of time, which of course may be permanent. [Boy that was a long sentence]

    I am doing my best in my own work place to ensure that this thinking is understood by all staff, and it’s slowly but surely happening, but in terms of electronic record keeping, I am not aware of any lone arranger managing this task on their own. I would be keen to hear of anyone doing this in the big wide world, as I am keen to learn how this can be done, but I don’t think its possible or one person to do it in any environment and also manage the archives as well as do all the other many tasks such as conservation, public outreach etc...

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