Records Management for Archivists: Embracing the "Dark Side"


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This presentation was given by Kristy Sorensen and Angela Ossar at the Society of Southwest Archivists 2014 conference in New Orleans, LA (May 30, 2014).

Whether you work with records managers but don’t understand them, need a records manager but don’t have one, suddenly find yourself being the records manager, or are just “records management curious,” this bootcamp session can help you combine the best parts of the archives and records management professions into one unstoppable toolkit. Topics covered will include a translation guide for the basic vocabulary of records management; a detailed look at retention schedules and why archivists should know about them; and an open exploration of what records managers can teach archivists, and what archivists can teach records managers. We will follow all this up with lots of time for questions and a heaping serving of additional resources that will help session participants find the answers they need when they are back at their home institution.

Presentation notes:
Presentation handouts (Records Management Resources):

Note: We (and our employer institutions) make no claim to own Star Wars or any of the copyrights or trademarks related to it. Images that are displayed in this presentation are copyrighted to Lucasfilm Limited or another partner of Lucas Licensing, or to the creator of the image.

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  • Brief intro
    Overview of presentation:
    Personal experiences
    The Dark Side of RM
    RM 101
    How can we use records management (with case studies and tips!)
    Time for questions at the end.

    Note: We (and our employer institutions) make no claim to own Star Wars or any of the copyrights or trademarks related to it. Images that are displayed in this presentation are copyrighted to Lucasfilm Limited or another partner of Lucas Licensing, or to the creator of the image.
  • Let’s take a quick poll.
  • Transition:
    As we could see from the show of hands, we have a lot of different types of experiences represented in the room, and I think our presentation will have something valuable for all of you.
    Before we get to the heart of the presentation, Angela and I are going to go over our own experiences with Records Management to let you know where we are coming from.
  • Kristy and I did both have noble beginnings as archivists.
  • Way back in 2007…. I graduated from the School of Information & Library Science at UNC – Chapel Hill with my MSLS.
  • At SILS I took classes in arrangement & description, appraisal, cataloging, and outreach in cultural heritage institutions.

    I had 3 jobs:
    Graduate Assistant for Dr. Helen Tibbo on archival metrics project;
    Processing oral histories at the Southern Historical Collection (UNC);
    Processing papers related to advertising history at Duke University.
  • So when I came back to Texas, I was ready to embark on a long career in archives.

    Austin is a pretty tough job market to crack into, though, so I ended up getting a job about 80 miles away and commuting every day.

    I started out as a Manuscripts Archivist at a big university and then, when the position of University Archivist was created at my Library, became the first University Archivist. Having only worked with mss before, I feared it would be really boring. But, I found that university records tell a story too, and I found that story to be really interesting.

    I loved working with university records:
    getting all of our collections EAD-encoded and represented online
    promoting the collections, digitizing and blogging about cool “finds”
    Teaching undergrads how to use primary sources
    Detective work of answering reference requests

    But. I quickly learned that the foundation of a good institutional archives is a solid RM program. I didn’t want to admit that because I had taken *one* class on RM in library school and…just had no interest in RM at all.

    But I WAS looking for ways to raise awareness of the University Archives, so I approached the RM department about joining them in their semi-annual RM training.
  • Here’s how THAT went. (Any Star Wars nerds will get the mood I’m going for here.)

    They didn’t seem interested.
  • The training was basically designed to instruct people how to read a records retention schedule well enough to be able to pack a box to transfer it to the storage center. It didn’t mention archival records at all.

    No action on retention schedule amendment I proposed.

    So, other than giving me my 10 minutes of training, no working relationship between the archives & records management.
  • It was a frustrating time.

    And I actually did find a way to do some RM outreach to departments on my own, but I’ll talk about that later.

    I wish I could tell you that I stuck it out and we found a way to come together as one, but, in the end, I came across an ad for a job (in Austin, 15 minutes from my house) at the Texas State Library & Archives Commission. The job was records management consulting and training.
  • It took a couple years before I stopped feeling like I’d thrown my archives training away, and before I stopped feeling like I was some kind of imposter.

    I could not accept that I’d joined the world of records management.

    I remember learning that I was the 666th Twitter account followed by ARMA International and thinking….that’s appropriate.

    To say the least, it was a weird transition, but I promised myself I’d stick it out for 2 years.
  • Well, here I am 5 years later. And I love my job!

    Part of what helped me through the transition was something that Kristy said. At TSLAC I answer a lot of questions about records retention -- how long government agencies have to keep stuff, and whether records have archival value.

    Kristy said,  “The questions you’re answering are appraisal questions. You’re just dealing with records earlier in the life cycle.” It made me realize that my skills were transferable.

    You really can do good archives work by helping and working with records managers.

    Now Kristy will talk about her path to the “Dark Side.”
  • 2.c. Kristy:
    MLIS from UT in 2002 (focus on archival enterprise, including one Intro to RM class)
    A year of two half-time entry-level archives jobs in Austin before…
  • …becoming the Archivist for the Archives of American Mathematics at the Dolph Briscoe Center at UT
    a grant-funded position that I held for almost four years.
    Included faculty records, organizational records
    BUT I didn’t have any real involvement with records management either at UT or with the organizations that were donating material to us.
  • In November 2006 I took a job as the Archivist and Records Manager at the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
    One class on RM in library school (about 5 years ago at this point) and that was all the RM experience I brought to the table.
    Talked with a friend who had made a similar transition, and decided to go for it!
    Initially hesitant about my RM duties, wanted to focus on the “real” work of archives.
    I found that my archives experience translated smoothly into records management.
    Being both the records manager and the archivist is an amazing position to be in if you are trying to document the work of an institution.
    About two years ago I added “Associate Library Director” to my archives and records management job title. I think traditional academic library work also pairs really well with archives, but that would be a whole different talk!

  • Transition: From our backgrounds, you can see that Angela and I actually have come to like RM quite a bit.

    So why on earth are we calling it, “The Dark Side.” Does anyone really feel that way? Are we way off here?
  • What did you think: Poll results
  • But don’t just take our word for it!

    RM word cloud with words culled from two articles comparing the professions of archives and RM:
    an American Archivist article by Kathryn Scanlan titled “ARMA v. SAA: The History and Heart of Professional Friction,” (Fall/Winter 2011) and
    “Archivists’ and Records Managers’ Identities – Two Opinions: Different Species or United as One?” / February 22, 2014. From the UK blog Archord, written by Claire Norman

    Destroyers, profit, crass, business, messy
    The words are generally negative, especially from an archivist’s perspective.
  • Archives word cloud: this is what we like!

    Cultural, noble, academic, intellectual, permanent

    Transition: Let’s explore this a little further and talk about why we think archivists don’t like records management
  • RM is associated with corporations, risk management, legal departments, auditing – their records and information are proprietary and not open to the public
    Archives is primarily a scholarly function (typically associated with the library, academic institutions) – our records are usually open, and we pride ourselves on making them accessible
    Most of us went to library school because we have no interest in business. We didn’t want our MBA!
    An ARMA meeting is usually filled with a bunch of corporate records managers - not the type of people archivists usually deal with.

    [Note: Quotes are from a ( sometimes tongue in cheek) conversation about the differences between archivists and RMs from the RM Listserv]
  • Routine, structured records are not as fun as the mysterious box from grandma’s attic.
    Although, let’s face it, archives are sometimes “boring” to outsiders as well…
  • Most of us didn’t train to be records managers; the disciplines are closely related but know there’s an entire body of knowledge about RM that we are unfamiliar with.
    We already have our own sets of impenetrable acronyms, and we don’t want to learn new ones!
  • Archivists are busy enough.
    Adding another job duty to an overfull plate is not appealing!
    Getting started with RM is a time-consuming project (as we will learn in the next section) and once it is started, it has to be maintained.
  • Even though we make appraisal decisions on the macro level at times, we are uncomfortable letting functionally based records series be destroyed without our review.

    We see a broader historical value in even routine records that RMs seek out and destroy.

    Arthur Gray Jones papers example – turn of the century household receipts from San Antonio, so cool, but not something that would make it through my retention schedule today!
  • RMs sometimes don’t understand the value of archivists and won’t let us in, even when we want them to (electronic records!).
    I know many archivists who might disagree with the “cleaner environment” remark!

    Transition: Now that we have explored the differences between the professions and gotten some of our feelings about RM out in the open, let’s step back and open ourselves up to a little Records Management 101, courtesy of Angela.
  • So at this point, I’m going to put on my RM training hat and we’re just gonna do some Records Management 101.

    I’m going to do my best to dispel that “RM is boring” myth.
  • How did that get in here?
  • Let’s start with a definition. This is how RM is defined in the SAA Glossary.

    It’s controlling records throughout their whole life cycle, from the point of creation to the point of disposal, for the ultimate goal of ensuring efficiency and economy – code words for “cost reduction.”
  • And that’s usually represented by the Records Life Cycle: The record is created, it’s used and filed, then it’s stored until it’s met retention, at which point it’s disposed of.

    As you can see, disposition includes preservation. Archives!

    Records managers – if they’re doing their jobs right – aren’t just there to make sure stuff gets shredded, they are also there to shepherd historical records through the life cycle and ultimately get them to the archives.
  • What are the benefits of having a records management program? Why is this something you should care about?

    There’s a reason that records management is associated with that “crass materialism” we saw in the word cloud – it actually is driven by cost reduction. It keeps storage costs at a minimum whether that’s paying Iron Mountain, losing an office where you could be putting a human because you have to put boxes in it, or paying for server storage where costs are calculated by volume. The more stuff you have, the more stuff you’re paying to keep, doesn’t matter what the format is.

    Good records management promotes efficiency and productivity. It’s about automating processes, constructing filing systems, setting up taxonomies that improve search-ability and help people find information faster. Sound familiar? Very similar to what you’re doing in archives – if things are arranged & described well, then researchers spend less of their limited time looking for it. In a work environment, this means less frustration and happier workers, but also reduced personnel costs.

    No matter what context you’re working in – academic, public, business – your records are probably subject to some kind of regulation. Records management ensures that you’re complying with all federal and state laws for records retention, you’re protecting confidential information to comply with HIPAA, FERPA, FOIA, state open records laws, and you’re complying with any auditing or legal requirement to keep a record for a certain length of time.

    And complying with those laws reduces your institution’s legal risks, of course. Once I heard a County Attorney put this pretty bluntly: “If you don’t have it, they can’t come get it from you.” If you have no records management program right now, your legal counsel may be your best ally in establishing one. It’s a huge risk management issue to have no records management program.

    Good RM protects vital information in the event of a disaster. Vital records are records that are essential to responding to a disaster (like a disaster plan, list of emergency contacts), resuming operations (like payroll systems), and protecting the legal/financial status of the institution (active contracts, accounts receivable).

    And, the point that appeals most to the noble keepers in us, preserving cultural memory is a big part of why we do records management. For those of y’all working as institutional archivists, you know that if records management is missing at your institution, then you’re probably going to have a much harder time getting the archival records to the archives.
  • Now: the Records Retention Schedule.

    Not long after turning to the Dark Side of records management (which, again, I felt pretty crappy about at first), I was driving to work and the local NPR station was doing a piece on the Texas Public Information Act. A reporter from the Texas Tribune explaining to regular citizens how Open Records requests work.

    Well, they turned to the question of – “so how far back can a request go? How long is the government required to keep stuff?” And the reporter said, “Well, that’s determined by a document with the Orwellian name of a “Records Retention Schedule.” Just more government double-speak.

    But! You can see it makes perfect sense if you know what it does!

    It governs Records. Anything that documents the way the institution works.

    It governs Retention. Retaining. Think: employee retention. Student retention. It means, “keeping.”

    It sets a Schedule. A plan! It’s a plan for carrying out a process.
  • And so a records retention schedule is central to a records management program because it lists all of the different kinds of records your institution creates, and sets a plan for keeping them. Simple.
  • A records disposition schedule – different term with almost exactly the same meaning. I’m going to be calling these things retention schedules because that’s what we call them at TSLAC.
  • That’s what a retention schedule is, but – why do you need one?

    Well, it’s useful for a lot of reasons.

    1, It’s a list of all the records your institution has. Wouldn’t it be great, in the archives, to just have a list of what’s out there?

    2, It sets uniform retention policies. There’s a consistent plan for records across the whole institution – all time sheets are kept 4 years. All meeting minutes are historical. All student records are confidential.

    3, it helps you set up filing systems that are based on retention periods, instead of….whatever was going on in the head of the person who set it up. That goes a LONG way toward identifying records that have met retention, no longer have value, or maybe are ready for transfer to the archives.

    And, the schedule is critical for identifying records with historical value. Which is important because – historical value is just not evident to the average employee. Some people see historical value in every Post-it note they’ve ever written. Other people (as I’m sure you know) want to destroy anything that’s “old.”

    The retention schedule helps take the guesswork out of archival value and, hopefully, is a place for the archives to establish policies on what belongs in the archives.
  • There are typically about 4 steps to developing a retention schedule, and now we’re going to look at what’s involved in each of these.

    This should be especially relevant to those of y’all who have no RRS.
  • You have to start with some kind of inventory. This is how you wrap your arms around the records at an institutional level.

    To find out what records your institution creates, you have to be ready to learn about what your institution is actually doing.

    And that means that inventory is a great chance to learn about business processes. You’re getting a lay of the land – mapping out workflows, seeing what records come out of those workflows, and where the records actually are. What servers are they on? What formats are they kept in?

    You’ve probably heard the truism that “Archives is one of the only professions where you get to read other people’s mail.” I think inventory is kind of the records management equivalent. Lifting up the hood of the whole place and seeing how it works, which I find very interesting.

    There are a couple of different approaches to doing the inventory. The first is to send out a questionnaire to everyone in the institution, and ask them to fill it out and submit it to you. That’s what TSLAC does – every year, each employee has to inventory the records in his or her own file cabinets and U: drive. The liaison for the department fills this out for any of our shared records.

    The second approach is to set up meetings with all the various departments and talk this out, maybe filling in the form for them during that conversation. I do know one public university in Texas who meets with all 270 departments every 3 yrs.

    Or, you can choose a hybrid approach, where people fill out their inventory forms, then you follow up by meeting with them to go over it and fill in any gaps. That’s probably the most effective method if you have time for it.
  • Inventory is going to help you group records into Record Series, which is partly how we control records.

    I think Archivists and Records Managers use the term “Series” a little differently. The Records Management definition is a little more granular.

    Here’s an example of a Record Series that probably every records retention schedule would have: Employment Applications.

    Now, a lot of different kinds of records might go into an Employment Application, a CV, a cover letter, copy of your college transcript, maybe a writing sample.

    All of this stuff serves the same function. It documents a person’s application to work at your institution.

    And so all these records are grouped together under one single so-called Record Series.

    And that’s where we assign retention periods: at the Record Series level.
  • So: about retention periods:
    Once you get a clear sense of what you have in the inventory, and you’ve grouped stuff together into logical record series, this is when you have to decide how long to keep each record series.

    There are 4 intrinsic values that every record might have. Those values dictate how long the record should be kept and whether it ultimately belongs in the archives.

    The first type of record value is Historical. This is archival appraisal. Believe me, if you think archival appraisal is hard (as I did when I was an archivist), imagine being a non-archivist trying to determine historical value. I work with a lot of local governments – city secretaries, for example, who already wear a lot of hats, including “archivist” even though they’ve had no archives training. This is very difficult for them. This is why I think it’s almost criminal to hear records managers tell me that they don’t know their archivists. Go buy your archivist a breakfast taco!

    Alright, the other three values are the less noble ones. They might be as totally foreign to you as historical value is to non-archivist civilians. But! You don’t have to go it alone. For each of the remaining three, you have allies who can help you figure out these other record values.

    First, Fiscal…. Records like accounts payable information, cash receipts, bank statements, budgets: these things have fiscal value to your institution. They help you prove what money you owe, and what money you’re owed. For help determining fiscal value, talk to Accounting, or ask your auditors.  They are the ones who know how far back an audit will go, and therefore how long the records are needed.

    Legal.  Again, sometimes you have a statutory requirement to retain a record for a certain length of time - financial aid records, for example, are totally governed by an intricate web of federal retention rules. This is where I’d recommend, if you’re a public entity, seeing what RM assistance is available at the State level. This is where your Legal Department can be a great ally.

    Finally, Administrative. This is the business value of the record. How long it’s going to be useful in conducting business: answering questions, serving patrons, keeping things running. You have to determine this with the record creators. The records manager can’t possibly understand every business function well enough to know how long a record is going to have administrative value to the record creators without talking to the record creators.

    All of these record values are going to influence the retention period you set. A meeting reminder in Outlook is going to have no fiscal, historical, or legal value and its administrative value is totally transitory.

    A city’s ordinances, on the other hand, have several of these values, and all pretty long-term.
  • I have to be honest, doing this appraisal work isn’t easy, but it protects you from letting people who have no idea what they’re doing set arbitrary retention periods that don’t really meet the legal and fiscal and business needs of your institution, much less the historical documentation needs of the archives.

    You are much more qualified than you think to do regular records appraisal. The biggest obstacle might be getting over the boredom factor.
  • Okay, so you’ve inventoried, you’ve done all that good appraisal work, and now you’ll need to organize that information and decide on the format for your schedule.

    A retention schedule can be simple or complex.

    Here’s a very simple records retention schedule for financial records. It lists the type of record and the retention period. That’s it.

    There’s a lot of other information that you can put on a retention schedule, though.

    Here’s a page from my agency’s retention schedule. Everything’s bigger in Texas! Each item has:
    A unique ID number
    A title as well as a description, which defines the scope and contents of the record series, basically.
    The retention period, which is broken down into how long we keep it in our office, and how long it’s stored in offsite storage
    The archival code – whether or not it should go to the State Archives when it’s met retention
    Federal rules that govern retention of this particular kind of record; and
    Confidential and vital status

    We need that level of detail at our agency. But you don’t have to have all this.
  • Lastly, review and submission.

    Keeping in mind that the retention schedule is essentially an institution-wide policy, there are certain stakeholders who will probably want to sign off on it.

    And that does include the business units themselves, who are the ones who will actually be using this retention schedule. Needs to be practicable for them: you haven’t set a 75-year retention period for browser history or something.

    And of course, if you’re a public institution, you may be required by law to submit the schedule to your State RM program for approval.
  • Now that we’ve gone over the RM basics, we’re going to talk about what RM is useful for. What you can actually achieve as archivists and as, maybe, records managers.
  • First, you can use the Retention Schedule to document records disposition.

    This is a basic “Records Disposition Log” form. The first 3 columns pull information from the Records Retention Schedule: the unique ID number, the title, and the retention period.

    Next, the inclusive dates of what’s being destroyed or transferred.

    Then, Action: What method is being used to destroy it? Use the legend for this: delete, shred, transfer to archives.

    Volume: How much is being disposed of?

    And when was it actually destroyed or transferred?

    Finally, if you want to have someone sign off on this form, there are a few different signature lines at the top.

    The Records Manager almost always signs off on destruction, but in some places the Archives has a signature line as well. Hopefully the archivist gets a line too (and isn’t just notified after the fact).

    This is a very useful piece of documentation – FOIA request, audit, subpoena: records destroyed in accordance with an approved retention schedule.
  • Next, looking at an automated records management system – this happens to be SharePoint.

    You can set automatic disposition rules in a system like this.

    This means that the system automatically destroys records according to retention rules.

    This removes the end user entirely from the disposition process and puts the records manager in control.

    And it can even be programmed to actually transfer a record to another location – like the archives – once it’s met retention.
  • And then, you can use the retention schedule to set retention-conscious filing systems.

    On the left, a typical shared drive. Not retention-conscious.

    On the right, a shared drive that’s organized according to the records retention schedule.

    Not only is it easier to FIND stuff in the example on the right (I would know because this is my department’s shared drive and I set up our file plan), but it’s much easier to see what’s eligible for DISPOSITION.

    You can see these little codes like “FE+5” – that means we can destroy anything in the folder 5 years after the end of the current fiscal year.
  • Looking a little more broadly…

    Sometimes RM training tends to be all about compliance, laws, not getting sued, staying out of jail.

    Frankly I think that approach is misguided. It might work in some places that are more fearful of audits or litigation, but in most offices RM is much more effective if you present it as a service to people.

    That’s why I think librarians and archivists make great records managers. We went into the profession to serve people!

    So that was the approach I took at the university. I came up with a service I called the Records Retention Geek Squad and I mentioned it in my trainings and on our blog and website. It was really interesting. I’d go out to departments, give them a folder with what I considered useful stuff, they’d show me the stuff they had questions about, I’d tell them what they could get rid of. And then of course they had a face for the Archives.

    And you know what, sometimes the Geek Squad would take me across campus 3 times to offices where nothing is or will ever be archival. But sometimes, I’d end up in the President’s Office because they needed some help setting up a filing system. I’ll never forget the time the President of the university walked into the room where we were organizing some files and said, “Angela Ossar! I’ve heard about you!”

    So, doing RM, and offering RM as a service to help people, ended up being was a great way to raise awareness of the Archives.
  • Thinking about digital preservation issues: I know you’ve probably heard, over and over, that early intervention is critical.
    And that the archivist’s role in digital preservation needs to start at the point of creation.  
    And when I worked as an archivist, I often remember thinking: okay, so, HOW? How am I supposed to get in at the point of creation when “archives” is the last stop on the life cycle? I think the answer to that is: Records Management.
    The archivist can work with the actual records creators – even manuscripts creators, for some of these – to help make sure that electronic records are being managed well before they come to the Archives.
    In an institutional setting, people need advice on institutional policies, like how to read the retention schedule, and how to get a record approved for disposition. For archival records, early intervention may be the only way you can ensure that you actually get any materials at all. Otherwise, people may not know you exist.
    They need to know how to actually get materials to the Archives, and what file formats you’re equipped to accept.
    You can discuss file naming conventions with people, and explain why it’s important to be descriptive and use standardized language or date formats in file naming.
    And, another one that’s important for institutional archives: archivists need to be involved in RFP process – RFP meaning “Request for Proposal” – for obtaining any electronic systems that create records.
    If you the archivist are involved in the actual design phase of the process (also called the “information architecture” phase), you can make sure that the system is designed in a way that ensures that:
    #1: The system allows for disposition (so, it actually enables destruction or archival transfer when retention is met); and
    #2: The system can export records into a non-proprietary format – which is important both for digital preservation, AND to the business needs of the institution (because if that software company eventually goes out of business, or discontinues the product, you don’t want your records to be locked in that system and irretrievable). I do hear stories of this happening.
  • I want to emphasize Angela’s point about the opportunities that come from a “Geek Squad”-style meeting with staff. Not only are we able to present RM as a service, but the meetings also serve as an educational opportunity, both for the staff and for the archivist / records manager (me!).

    Working with staff:
    I schedule meetings with all new staff, and periodic refresher meetings with existing staff, trying to hit each department every year or two.
    These meetings help me as an archivist and records manager to understand the functions of the institution I’m documenting, and they help the staff I’m meeting with to learn about the records of the seminary, how their work fits into the bigger picture, how the archives can help them, what we have in the archives from their predecessors, and how I can help them clear out unneeded records to make room for a more efficient system. BE THEIR HERO!
  • My “educational” meetings have not only born fruit with the staff of the Seminary, but also with the administration:

    Working with Administrators:
    Our VP for Business Affairs was sent an article from one of our board members about the risks and rewards of electronic records management.
    Because of previous conversations about records and archives, instead of calling IT or the Seminary’s legal counsel, he called me and gave me the institutional authority to take some first steps in designing an electronic records management program.
    This will ultimately strengthen our ability to collect, preserve, and provide access to electronic records in the archives.
  • Transition: The meeting with our VP for Business Affairs led to my current big project: conducting an electronic records inventory.

    Case study, electronic records inventory (transitioning from meeting with VP):
    In this brief case study I want to give you:
    How I got started.
    The tools I’m using now.
    Lessons learned and the (hopeful) big payoff.
    I hope this will help make some of the topics that A. covered in RM101 more concrete.
  • Had to find a way into the project
    Getting over my own hesitance: I knew this was something I should do, but I wasn’t sure how to do it so it was easy to set it to the side and put it off until later.
    I first came up with the idea of sending out a survey to records creators about their electronic records.
    Sample survey with the library staff

    Sent out my first “real” survey to our HR director. No response. Tried sending it again, still no response.

  • The project was FROZEN!

    Realized that she is much too busy for the amount of work my admittedly complicated survey would take to fill out.
  • Re-tooled my survey into something more streamlined and began scheduling one-one-one interviews with records creators.
    Instead of having them fill out the survey, I interviewed them about their records and took notes and then filled out the shortened survey forms for them based on their responses.
    Started with smaller, more defined offices (not HR, which is complicated and highly regulated).
    Focusing on the records listed on our retention schedule – set some parameters for the project.
  • Created a spreadsheet to compile the results of the survey.

    Initial goal is to get a sense of high risk series.

    Working to develop internal (and for now, manual) systems to dispose of electronic records the same way we do with the paper counterparts.
  • Had an invaluable conversation with the Director of IT as a result of this project
    Having this inventory will help us create a future RFP for an electronic records management system or institutional repository (a system that will benefit both RM and archives).
    Finding out about new records being created that I didn’t know about (especially databases)
    The education works both ways: I’m getting information from them, they are getting tips on managing their electronic records from me. Electronic Geek Squad!

    It is still slow going! Everyone I have met with so far has been very positive after the interview, but no one has jumped on the chance to meet with me about their electronic records.

    Transition: Now that we have talked through some of the details of our own journeys through the parallel universes of archives and RM, let’s see what you can do to get started with records management and take another look at the relationships between the two professions.
  • What is it you could be doing?
  • If you hate records management, or you avoid records management because you don’t understand it, then the first thing you have to work on is a paradigm shift.

    You really have to start by acknowledging that records management is beneficial to the institution and to the archives, and that avoiding it only leads to suffering. Listen to Yoda.

    (Read positive index cards)
  • There are a few entry points. I’ll talk about each of these.
  • If you’re in a situation where you have no records management program, or you are responsible for RIM but feel like your program could stand to be stronger, I highly recommend The Principles. An ARMA initiative (formerly called “GARP”) consisting of this Maturity Model (similar to the DPCMM) that is designed to help you evaluate your program and identify areas needing improvements.

    I attended day-long seminar, Essentials of The Principles. Excellent intro. They also have a lot of webinars and less intensive training.
  • There are no fewer than 16 local ARMA chapters in the southwest region. This bitly link will take you to the full list of local chapters.

    This is probably the best way for you to meet and start having conversations with records managers.
  • Ewoks. Big teddy bears who help you attack your enemies.

    I’m not here to tell you that all records managers are big teddy bears, BUT they sure can be helpful allies.

    I found that to be true when I would go to ARMA chapter meetings while working as an archivist. I’d meet other people in similar situations at the meetings – archivists who’d embraced RM for whatever reasons – and I would learn how they had gotten RM programs established at their institutions, even institutions that really had no interest in establishing RM programs. Example of librarian getting university’s lack of RIM on legal “risk list”; the program was borne out of that effort.

    ARMA chapters will often do conferences, or even just luncheons or monthly meetings where they bring in a speaker – and the speakers often talk about pretty basic stuff that you can actually understand and use.
  • I was going to give you links to a bunch of other sources of RIM training, and partway through I realized….wait, I’ve done that before. I wrote a website for that! So please, check out TSLAC’s list of External Training Opportunities.

    I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that we do a LOT of records management webinars at TSLAC, and they’re all free, about 45 minutes long, and hit on topics like

    Email Management
    Shared Drive Management
    Managing Social Media Records

    And a bunch of other popular topics. We always see people from other states and sometimes other countries attending. They are all recorded and made available on our online training site.

    There’s going to be some Texas government stuff in there, but for the most part, pretty widely applicable. A lot of e-records topics because that’s what people ask for.
  • Now, some practical tips on getting a RM program off the ground.

    The EPA has one of the most robust RM programs I’ve ever seen, and they have this great guidance for their offices on how to set up a records management plan. It’s actually 10 steps, but I shorted it to 6.
    Records Liaisons. Unlike archives work where, especially for Lone Arrangers, you may not have a lot of contact with people outside of the Library – the foundation of RM is your connections with your records creators. At a mid-size or large institution you’ll never MEET all the records creators, so the very first step is to establish Records Liaisons – contacts in each business unit that are responsible for RM in their own office.
    Inventory. I think we’ve said enough about that, especially for those of you who know that most people HATE records inventories and would really love it if we’d stop talking about it…. BUT, of course, it’s the foundation of the….
    Records Retention Schedule. And, once you’ve done an inventory, you can either create the schedule if you don’t have one, or dust off your existing retention schedule to see where your gaps are. If nothing else, make sure your retention schedule accounts for archival records.
    Purge. Go ahead and start disposing of duplicates, convenience copies, reference material, and stuff that’s met retention. This might be the way you start getting materials to the archives. As Kristy said, this is where you really will be a hero to people!
    Then, Organize. Work on shared drives, email management, filing systems. Archivists are so good at this that, again, it’s another hero opportunity.
    Finally, train, train, train. Don’t let all your hard work developing policies and retention schedules go to waste – training is how you keep the program active and keep in touch with people.

    Fact of the matter is: RM liaisons tend to be the lowest person on the totem pole. This means high turnover which means you have to keep offering training.
  • Thank you to Michael Reagor!

    To help you guys explore this topic in more detail and get started on your own RM journey, Kristy and I have compiled a list of resources.

    We brought a few handouts, which are on the table, but you can also find the list at the link on the slide ( or send us an email after the conference and we can get the list to you that way.
  • So, to wrap up. Going back to that Archord article that Kristy talked about, about RM and Archivists and are we Different Species or United As One: Records Managers and Archivists actually do have a lot in common.

    And that gap is getting increasingly smaller because of electronic records and digital archives issues.

    So, one last word cloud. Here are some words that were associated with both fields in that article:

    Integrity and Authenticity – vital to long-term digital preservation and admissibility in court.

    Flexibility – because, partly, we’re *all* cash-strapped

    Standards – DoD 5015.2, ISO 8601 (*my* favorite date format), ISO 15489

    Safeguarding, Migration – records managers care about it to meet business needs, archivists care about it for preservation, but the point is we ALL care about it.

    Above all, even though we have different motives and backgrounds and customers, we are ALL people who care about records.
  • We’d actually love to take your questions now.
  • Records Management for Archivists: Embracing the "Dark Side"

    1. 1. Records Management for Archivists: Embracing the Dark Side Angela McClendon Ossar, MSLS, CA Government Information Analyst State and Local Records Management Division Texas State Library & Archives Commission (512) 463-7610 | @angelaossar Kristy Sorensen, MLIS, CA Associate Director of the Library Head of Archives and Records Management Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (512) 404-4875 | @austinarchivist
    2. 2. Show of hands: What’s your situation? – The records manager and I have a pretty good working relationship. – We have a records manager, but there is little connection between them and the archives. – I keep getting asked records management- type questions because I’m an archivist but I’m not a records manager – Help! My boss has just added records management to my archives responsibilities!
    3. 3. Fun with index cards! • Take the card you found at your seat and let us know: 1. What does records management mean to you in five words or fewer? 2. What is one question you have about records management ? (Include your email if you’d like us to respond to your question after the meeting, in case we run out of time.)
    4. 4. PATH TO THE DARK SIDE Records, shredding, retention schedules….the dark side are they
    5. 5. Archivist in training
    6. 6. I’m an archivist!
    7. 7. Meeting Records Management
    8. 8. Getting a seat at the table
    9. 9. Giving up
    10. 10. You’re not my father!
    11. 11. 5 years later…
    12. 12. Meanwhile, in another galaxy…. Image by Flickr user satosphere, used under a Creative Commons License MLIS, 2002 Big archives emphasis One (1!) Intro to Records Management class Kristy!
    13. 13. It all adds up Image by Larry D. Moore, used under a Creative Commons ShareAlike License
    14. 14. Archivist, Records Manager, Image courtesy of the Austin Seminary Archives Library Administrator
    16. 16. What did you think?
    17. 17. Why (we think) archivists hate RM • It’s primarily a business function: “About the only item I've seen universally ‘archived’ by businesses is the first dollar they earned. =)” (From the RECMGMT email list, 3/4/2014)
    18. 18. Why (we think) archivists hate RM • It’s primarily a business function: “I prefer the explanation that the real difference between archivists and records managers is that ‘archivists are better educated, records managers are better paid.’” (From the RECMGMT email list, 2/25/2014)
    19. 19. • It’s boring. Why (we think) archivists hate RM Image by Oskoui+Oskoui, Inc. used via Fair Use
    20. 20. • We don’t understand it. Why (we think) archivists hate RM
    21. 21. • We don’t have time for it. Why (we think) archivists hate RM
    22. 22. Why (we think) archivists hate RM • We want to save things, not destroy them.
    23. 23. Why (we think) archivists hate RM • Records managers don’t get us. “Archivists typically work in a cleaner environment than records managers (at least that is what I got from that Nicholas Cage movie ‘national treasure’), hence the uptick in pay for records managers (we get hazard duty pay). ” (From the RECMGMT email list, 2/25/2014)
    24. 24. A MOST PECULIAR DIALECT Records Management 101
    25. 25. What is Records Management? “The systematic and administrative control of records throughout their life cycle to ensure efficiency and economy in their creation, use, handling, control, maintenance, and disposition.” SAA Glossary of Archival and RecordsTerminology
    26. 26. Records Life Cycle Image: Michigan State University Records Management,
    27. 27. Why Records Management? • Reduce costs • Improve efficiency/productivity • Ensure compliance • Minimize legal risks • Safeguard vital information • Preserve cultural memory
    28. 28. “Records Retention Schedule” Recorded information that documents the institution’s functions The continued possession or control of something A plan for carrying out a process
    29. 29. Records Retention Schedule (n.):A document that lists your institution’s records and tells you how long you have to keep them. (n.):A document that lists your institution’s records and tells you how long you have to keep them.
    30. 30. (n.):A document that lists your institution’s records and tells you how long you have to keep when you can dispose of them. Records Disposition Schedule
    31. 31. A retention schedule is good for: Listing the records of your institution Setting uniform retention policies Setting up retention-based filing systems Identifying records with archival value
    32. 32. Developing a Retention Schedule 1. Records Inventory 2. Records Appraisal 3. Organization and Formatting 4. Review and Submission
    33. 33. Step 1. Records Inventory • Learning business processes • Foundation of the Retention Schedule • Approaches: – Questionnaire – Meeting – Both TSLAC Individual Office/Cube Inventory form
    34. 34. Grouping into Record Series • Record series: Records that all serve the same function Employment Applications Application form Resume/ CV Cover letter Transcript Writing sample Not Hired: Keep 2 years Hired: Keep Termination + 5 years
    35. 35. Step 2. Records Appraisal • Historical value • Fiscal value • Legal value • Administrative value
    36. 36. Step 3. Organization/Formatting Simple …or Complex
    37. 37. Step 4. Review/Submission • Request review by…. – Legal Counsel – Auditor – Record Creators (departments / business units) • Public institutions may be required to submit schedule to State RM Program
    38. 38. USE THE FORCE Tools, tips, and experiences
    39. 39. Using the Retention Schedule …to document Records Disposition
    40. 40. Using the Retention Schedule …to automate disposition
    41. 41. Using the Retention Schedule NOT Retention-based Retention-based …to improve filing systems / manage shared drives
    42. 42. Present RM as a Service • The “Records Retention Geek Squad” – Met with departments – Advertised on blog/website, in training • Came to meetings with: – Copy of the Records Retention Schedule – Copy of the department’s finding aid, as applicable – Forms: records transfer, records disposition logs – University Archives brochure – Business card
    43. 43. Educate others – early and often • Retention/disposition policies • Transfer procedures • File formats • File naming conventions • Software purchases: information architecture – Does the system allow for disposition? – Can data be exported? – Are records being created in proprietary formats?
    44. 44. Present RM as an educational opportunity: Staff
    45. 45. Present RM as an educational opportunity: Administration
    46. 46. Inventory is a great way in • Case Study: Electronic Records inventory at the Seminary
    47. 47. Powering up
    48. 48. A New Hope
    49. 49. What do I do with all this data?
    50. 50. The payoff and lessons learned (so far)
    51. 51. DO OR DO NOT.THERE IS NO TRY. Where to begin?
    52. 52. Where to begin?
    53. 53. Where to begin? • Evaluate your program (The Principles) • Engage with records managers • Explore professional development opportunities
    54. 54. Evaluate Your Program • Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles (“The Principles”*) – Maturity Model (rating system for your RM program) – Educational opportunities – * formerly “GARP”
    55. 55. Engage with Records Managers • 16 Local ARMA Chapters in the Southwest Region (AR, LA, NM, OK,TX) •
    56. 56. Engage with Records Managers “Like big teddy bears who help you attack your enemies”
    57. 57. Explore Educational Opportunities • TSLAC’s list of External Training Opportunities: (AIIM, ARMA, MER, NAGARA): training/external/index.html • TSLAC’s records management webinars (free, open to anyone): training/webinars/index.html
    58. 58. Start somewhere 1. Establish a network of “Records Liaisons” 2. Conduct an inventory 3. Develop/update the Retention Schedule 4. Purge (don’t forget to document) 5. Organize 6. Train “A 10-step Records Management Plan forYour Office” – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
    59. 59. Resources •
    60. 60. What we have in common
    61. 61. Nothing more will I teach you today. Clear your mind of questions. Angela McClendon Ossar, MSLS, CA @angelaossar (512) 463-7610 Kristy Sorensen, MLIS, CA @austinarchivist (512) 404-4875 |