Work is being officially suspended on the Records Management Roundtable’s functions and activities thesaurus, whose goal was to provide a vocabulary for use by records managers and archivists when classifying and describing records.
Members of the Roundtable’s leadership started work on the thesaurus in 2008, and work has been sporadic since then. However, the project has repeatedly failed to generate enough community support to sustain the effort. The past seven years have shown that creating and maintaining a thesaurus requires more organized effort than the roundtable has been able to sustain.
Records managers and archivists who need or want a controlled vocabulary for functions already have several to choose from. Getty Research’s Art & Architecture Thesaurus, for example, contains a functions hierarchy that “includes descriptors for activities relating to the manipulation of data, the collecting of objects, human communication, economics, business, law, and government, as well as other professional activities.” As another example, archivists and records managers working in higher education might find the Thesaurus for use in College and University Archives useful when describing their records.
It is not clear who would be the likely users of a functions thesaurus created and managed by the roundtable, nor have any specific use cases been identified in which such a thesaurus would be preferable to any of the thesauruses and vocabularies that are already developed and in use.
Therefore, the functions thesaurus project is being officially suspended until such time as (a) compelling use cases can be identified and (b) a critical core group of RMRT members who are invested in the thesaurus’ success can commit significant time to its completion and maintenance.