RMRT at Archives*Records 2016

Almost 50 people gathered early Friday morning for the joint business meetings of the Records Management Roundtable (RMRT) and the Local Government Records Roundtable.  Eira Tansey chaired the meeting for the RMRT, and Linda Barrett hosted for Local Government Records.

Meg Phillips, external affairs liaison for NARA, introduced Laurence Brewer, who has been at NARA since 1999 and became Chief Records Officer for the U.S. federal government May 1, 2016.  He oversees Training, Policy and Guidance, and Operations and is responsible for promoting the goals of the Managing Government Records Directive.

Veronica Martzahl, digital records archivist at the Massachusetts State Archives, provided an update on the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) and the PERTTS (Program for Electronic Records, Training, Tools and Standards) Portal.  SERI evaluated training related to electronic records and has accumulated those resources in PERTTS Portal.  In addition to aggregating tools and resources, CoSA wants to collect user comments about these resources.  This Resource Center is currently focused on electronic records, but CoSA intends to expand this to other topics in the future.

Jackie Esposito, Penn State University Archivist, provided an update on her survey concerning the organizational placement and functions of college and university records management programs.  This survey became active June 1, 2016.  The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and will remain live until 12:00pm on August 15, 2016 and is open to colleges, universities, state governments, and business enterprises.  It gathers information about policies and procedures as well as the litany of services provided by college and university archivists.  It employs the seven element operational excellence management system to evaluate sustainable improvement of key performance metrics.  The results of the survey will be best practices and next steps.  All of the survey data will be made available January 2017, and articles are planned on survey results, records liaisons programs, structure and work plan for records management advisory committees, and best practices for each industry segment.

Helen Wong Smith introduced Erin Lawrimore as the incoming council liaison for the RMRT.  Wong reported that council accepted the following recommendations on affinity groups:

  • eliminate distinctions between sections and roundtables – all will become sections
  • SAA members may join as many sections as they choose
  • non-members can participate in up to 3 discussion lists; SAA is looking into new software to manage listservs
  • all groups must have standard bylaws and submit information about the annual meeting and their leadership
  • new groups can be formed with 100 members signatures

SAA Council also approved an information brief on archives and the environment and a revision to the Statement on Diversity and Inclusion.  The EAD Roundtable is now known as the Encoded Archival Standards (EAS) Roundtable.  Mark Matienzo was appointed to conduct an environmental scan about metadata and digital practice.

Eira Tansey provided a business update for the RMRT steering committee:

  • Alex Toner put together a research data management series for the blog
  • Courtney Bailey began a series of posts on open source records management tools
  • Plans are in the works for interviews of records managers
  • RMRT hosted Google Hangouts on ePADD for Email Archives and Processing Email Using Predictive Coding
  • The records management bibliography has been migrated to Zotero
  • Tansey is the student liaison for the RMRT and presented on “Records Management for Archivists” to the CSU-Sacramento and SJSU SAA student chapters – contact Tansey with ideas for future opportunities
  • RMRT hosted a joint Twitter chat with the SNAP roundtable

Michelle Bradley, supervisor of the training implementation team at NARA, presented on “Lifecycle of a Records: A Concept or a Process?”  NARA training talks about the creation/receipt of a record, its maintenance and use, and its disposition.  In 1944, Philip Brooks drew an early diagram of the concept of the life cycle of records.

life cycle of recordsRecords management at the ground level is usually a collateral duty for people, most of whom have little relevant training.  The result is that people do the best they can with the resources (time, money, knowledge) available to them.  Educating users about how federal government records are organized is vital.  Ultimately, the lifecycle of a record is primarily a process that involves many people.

Bradley provided two examples of records management in action.  While working in Germany, she found a World War Two document in the basement of the building and was told by the director, “I thought it looked historical but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I just left it there.”  The Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley holds a letter written by Dr. Luis Alvarez to his 8-year-old son as he returned from Hiroshima, Japan, on the Enola Gay on August 6, 1945.  In the former case, the path to the archives was not direct, but at least the document was preserved.  And in the latter case, someone recognized that a document which had met its required retention also had long-term historical value.HiroshimaTansey posed the question of how we get elected officials to care about records management.  Brewer explained that NARA frequently meets with Congressional staffers – usually prompted by RM crises but also filling reporting functions.  He reported that in recent years there has been much more awareness of and attention to issues of records management at the federal level, especially regarding electronic records.


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