Resourceful Records Managers

Our most recent records manager profile: Eira Tansey, Digital Archivist/Records Manager at the University of Cincinnati! If you want to be included contact Jessika Drmacich at jgd1(at)williams(dot)edu!

 

Eira-22-200x300
photo by Cassandra Zetta

1. What led you to choose your current career in Records Management?

After college, I worked for several years in a paraprofessional capacity in New Orleans. Once I received my MLIS, I knew that I wanted to return closer to home (Cincinnati) for family reasons. The timing was perfect, as a digital archivist/records manager position opened up at my alma mater (University of Cincinnati).

2. What is your educational background?

I attended the University of Cincinnati for undergrad (I have a BA in Geography), and I was a student worker at the library where I now work full-time. I did my MLIS through San Jose State’s online program while working full-time at Tulane University’s Louisiana Research Collection in New Orleans.

3. Do you or did you have a mentor who has helped you in the Records Management field?

I have not had formal RM mentors, but I have many colleagues who have been incredible sources of guidance over the years – particularly Dan Noonan and Pari Swift of Ohio State University. The Ohio Electronic Records Committee has also been a fantastic resource in sharing ideas and understanding records issues pertinent to the state of Ohio.

4. How did you first become interested in Records Management?

I took one course on records management during graduate school, but that was the extent of my records management background before I got my current job.

5. What is your role at your institution?

I am the Digital Archivist/Records Manager for the University of Cincinnati. I am responsible for the university’s records management program, and for the planning and development of workflows related to born-digital archives and digital preservation of electronic records.

6. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The University of Cincinnati is a major urban research university that has undergone a lot of academic and cultural transformation since I was a student ten years ago. As university records manager, I get to access many areas of the university that are often invisible or unknown to my colleagues. I have a sense of what is happening at many levels of the university, and this adds a lot of rich context to the non-records management aspects of my job.

7. What would you consider to be your career highlight or greatest success?

Implementing the University of Cincinnati’s first general records retention schedule in fall 2016. Prior to that, I was juggling hundreds of individual departmental schedules. It was an enormous accomplishment in terms of efficiency and encouraging a shift to greater uniformity in recordkeeping practices on campus.

8. What type of institutional settings have you worked in? Corporate? Government? Higher education? If more than one, how do they differ?

My institutional experience is almost entirely non-profit arts organizations and higher education. However, my briefest work experience – several months at Starbucks during college – taught me a lot of lasting lessons about smoothing over cranky undercaffeinated strong personalities!

9. What advice would you give to an individual considering Records Management as a career?

Learn about how to find, read, and monitor legal and regulatory information. I wish I had discovered that there were legal dictionaries for non-attorneys much sooner than I did!

10. Do you belong to any professional organizations (SAA, ARMA…)?

I am primarily active in archivist organizations, such as SAA and the Midwest Archives Conference.

11. Thoughts on the future of records management?

I always joke that being a records manager has made me a better archivist. Being responsible for writing the retention schedules authorizing the destruction of a majority of my institutions records means I have become far less susceptible to romanticizing archival work than many archivists who do not have records management experience. This sounds dramatic, but ultimately I think my experience as a records manager has liberated me to make better appraisal decisions that serves the needs of current and future users.

12. What do you perceive as the biggest challenges in the Records Management field?

Many of the funding and labor issues that affect archives also affect records management. But to take a specific RM concern – I am extremely concerned about how we measure and enforce compliance with records schedules. It’s not just about ensuring records are destroyed – what do we have in place to ensure that records scheduled for long-term preservation in archives make it through the doors of the archives? At my institution, it seems that the “full filing cabinet” was its own trigger to ensure periodic transfers of material. But a full hard drive is easily solved (from the point of view of records creators) by just buying more cheap storage. Within highly decentralized organizations like universities, this means we are very much in danger of losing much of our contemporary digital history.

13. Besides focusing on work, what are some of your other interests or hobbies?

I love hiking, and watching obscure environmental documentaries about things like icebergs.

14. Do you have a quote you live by?

“Everything in moderation, including moderation” (variously attributed to a lot of people!)

 

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