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"Because we like to destroy things."

Applying Library Technical Services to Records Management

Sarah Salo

on 4 May 2011

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Transcript of "Because we like to destroy things."

Records & Information Management is a perpetually growing industry, where over a decade of front page headlines... ...have resulted in the need for standards and best practices. staffing | cataloging | control of materials

Whether identical or with variations, there are numerous complimentary skills and responsibilities between Library Technical Services and Records & Information Management So what is Records Management? Records & Information Management (RIM) is a "field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of, and information about, business activities and transactions in the forms of records." (9) The importance of library technical services
is not limited to libraries alone. Catch all that? Me neither. Let's try again.
Really, what is Records Management? Records Management is, simply, the systematic control of records throughout their life cycle (2). Contracts, memos, reports, emails, website content, document metadata, jotted phone messages - these are all evidence of what an organization does, and all, therefore, are RECORDS. So Records Managers file the important stuff? Records Management is so much more than filing. [though I could wax poetic on the inherant power of a truly hardcore filing system!] Records are valuable assets, containing information necessary for the operation and vitality of an organization. Records Management, therefore, is asset management (9) . How does Records Management compare to Library Technical Services? Records management and library services are both concerned with the systematic analysis and control of recorded information. Library technical services cater to the cataloging and processing needs of repositories of published materials, often available in numerous quantities, and purchased from external sources (6).

Records management, in contrast, is responsible for an organization's proprietary information, often created internally, and existing in a limited number of copies (9). Those venues are quite different.
Can one discipline really inform the other? "Librarianship relies on an automatic transmission, while records managmeent comes with a stick shift and a clutch."
You can travel so much further by learning to drive both (8). Staffing & Resources Records Management is often a 1-2 person program working as a subsect of a larger corporate department (such as "Legal" or "Accounting"). Records Management is typically responsible for both managerial AND operational tasks: setting priorities, supervising administrative & IT staff, working through special requests and implementing self-generated policies (9).

Library Technical Services are less managerial in nature, focusing on the operational tasks at a far greater granular level than attended to by policy makers. The expectation of Records Management is to be fluent with the entire life-cycle of records, from generation to retention to destruction. It requires not only the creation of policy, but comprehending every step needed for successful policy implementation. A Records Manager with Library Technical Services experience would be familiar with all activities related to preparing and making materials accessible for the end users (6). Indexing & Cataloging Records Management requires quick and convenient retrieval of information. Through manual and electronic cataloging resources, efficient record acessibility can reduce labor costs, promote document completion, and specify control over record creation, maintenance & responsibility (1). Accurate indexing caters to specific corporate needs.

Library Technical Services implement tools such as automated acquisition systems, copy cataloging, and serials subscription vendors, and not just for the sake of cost efficiency. They are looking to prioritize and address the growing & diverse patron demand for speed, user-friendly methods, quality resources and wide-ranging services (6). User demand for cataloged information has increased at a rate exponentially greater than the new technologies to manage this information are conceived. When faced with the challenges of new technologies, adhering to the fundamental standards of information cataloging in key. "We need to reengineer our processes with a focus on the customer and not on the information itself or the tools we use to organize it" (7). Whether Records Management or Library Technical Services, defaulting to established cataloging best practices allows for greater objectivity when assessing a new format or devise, knowing patron service is the ultimate goal (3). Analysis & Control of Information In Records Management, assurance of authenticity - that the record is what it purports to be - is key. Reliability & integrity of the recordkeeping system ensures the information is protected from unauthorized access or changes. A properly assessed record is classified not only for easy retrieval, but just as important, with a deliniated retention period and a scheduled destruction (3).

Library Technical Services such as cataloging, stack maintenance, shelf reading and serials maintenace are routine procedures, all done to provide equal and repetitive accessibility to materials. These tasks also strive to maintain the continued integrity and preservation of materials (6). Modern Records Managers would be well served to look beyond their training of legal retention requirements and permitted destruction schedules. By drawing upon the appraisal and preservation skills of Library Technical Services, they can gain insight on the long-term value of records. Combining these skill sets preserves records enduring cultural and informational value, thereby lending to a more accurate picture of our society, for the analysis of future historians (4). So why choose Records Management
vs. Library Technical Services? "Records managers are trained to manage records while they are being actively used and, according to their organization's records retention schedule, to destroy records that no longer have value and transfer to archival management repositories records appraised as having long-term, historical value." (4) Nicely said. But really... Why am I pursuing Records Management? To quote the head of University of Minnesota's Records & Information Management:
"We may look like librarians, and act like librarians, but we aren't librarians. Because we like to destroy stuff." The volume of print and electronic records has increased significantly since the mid-20th century. Contributing factors include increased business operation complexity, the expansion of banking, healthcare and other information-heavy service industries, and the mainstay of computers, printers and technology that can produce large quantities of information quickly (1). I want to apply the Library Technical Services lessons of providing fair and equal materials access to the practice of records control. Though most records require stringent security, setting balanced guidelines that encourage accessibility at varied levels may also encourage adherance to record handling policy as a whole (5). I want to apply the classification and cataloging skills gained from Library Technical Services training to the seemingly limitless catagories of records. Applying the most user-friendly parameters to highly personalized corporate applications will come across as easy to use, and subsequently, encourage consistent best practices. I want to apply Library Technical Services archiving analysis when considering the potential long-term value of records. Approaching records where retention is consideredered as important as deletion may encourage quality vs. quantity record production, limit needless paper & electronic file creation, and allow me, as a Records Manager, to know... ...I can now, judiciously, destroy! Cited Works

1. ARMA International. “Information Management: A Business Imperative” 2011. ARMA International. 28 April 2011 <http://www.arma.org/pdf/RIM_imperative.pdf>.

2. ARMA International. "What is Records Management? Why Do I Care?" 2009. ARMA International. 28 April 2011 <https://www.arma.org/pdf/WhatIsRIM.pdf>.

3. Bradley, Alexandra and Uta Fox. "Back to the Future: Time-Tested Fundamentals Meet Challenges of Technology." Information Management 2011: 32-36.

4. Carter, Jeffrey E. "Rethinking Retention for the Distant Future." The Information Management Journal September/October 2006: 86.

5. Daum, Patricia CRM. "Evolving the Records Management Culture: From Ad Hoc to Adherence." The Information Management Journal May/June 2007: 42-49.

6. Kao, Mary L. Ph.D. Introduction to Technical Services for Library Technicians. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc., 2001.

7. Nelson, Nancy Melin. "The Future is Now: Changing Library Paradigms." Computers in Libraries Vol. 14, No. 5 May 1994: 4-5.

8. Robertson, Guy. "CIA for Beginners: Records Management Training for Library Technicians." Feliciter Issue 5 2004: 204-207.

9. Saffady, William. Records and Information Management. Fundamentals of Professional Practice. Lenexa, KS: ARMA International, 2004.
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