Finally… an installment of resourceful records managers! This time we are featuring Holly Dolan, Denton County – Records Management Officer! If you want to be featured, please fill out the form here.
1. What led you to choose your current career in Records Management?
Like so many records managers, I kind of fell into it! In my last semester of grad school I began searching for job options that would leverage my information and data management skills. I always assumed I would end up working for an academic library, archives, or similar cultural heritage institution. When a management position opened up with Denton County’s Records Management division, I was attracted to the idea of learning more about local government and the aspect of working with government information. At the time, I didn’t understand the depth of the Records and Information Management field, so I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way!
2. What is your educational background?
I hold a MS in Library Science as well as a graduate certificate in Digital Curation and Data Management from the University of North Texas. My undergraduate degree was in Art History. I’m sure that my love of historical preservation is a product of my art background.
3. Do you or did you have a mentor who has helped you in the Records Management field?
Wow, where do I start? My career has been shaped by several wonderful women who have acted as role models and provided support and guidance to help me overcome my constantly-looming impostor syndrome. I can’t name them all here, but I’ll give a special shout out to Nancy Lenoil and Jennifer Pickler. A little over a year ago I signed up for SAA’s Mentor Program and was matched with Nancy Lenoil, the State Archivist of California. I can’t believe I got so lucky. She has been amazing in helping me grow as a RIM professional. Not only has Nancy helped me navigate the records and archives world, she’s taught me a lot about how to manage people. My boss, Jennifer Pickler, has become a key support figure in my career. I honestly never thought I would climb the ladder so quickly, so I’ve needed some extra help to feel confident in my decision making. Among the many lessons she’s taught me, the most important has been: work to the best of your ability, and at the end of the day go home and enjoy the things that make you happiest in life.
4. What is your role at your institution?
I’m Denton County’s Records Management Officer. I work for the County’s Technology Services department and manage the Records Management Division. As Records Management Officer for the county, I’m in charge of coordinating our Records Management Program in the more than 90 business units that we serve. My main functions are consultation, training, and running the Denton County Records Center which currently holds over 34,000 boxes of government records.
5. What do you enjoy most about your job?
The thing I enjoy the most is providing training and outreach. Most of my customers are internal to the County, so a big part of my job is training people how to efficiently manage their records. Sometimes it takes a bit of creativity to fit policy information into an easily digestible format. I hold instructor-led “Records Management 101” classes about once a month. I love getting feedback from the trainees saying that they expected the class to be boring, but ended up enjoying it.
6. What advice would you give to an individual considering Records Management as a career?
I think my biggest advice is to do a bit of research and make sure that it’s right for you. Records Management is much more policy-heavy than other archival professions. To flourish in this career, you really need to take pride in following the rules.
7. Do you belong to any professional organizations (SAA, ARMA…)?
Along with SAA, I’m also a member of the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA) and the American Library Association (ALA).
8. What do you perceive as the biggest challenges in the Records Management field?
I think one of our biggest challenges in this field is learning how to work with technology rather than against it. I often see records managers panicking every time a new piece of technology has implications on their policies. At the end of the day, records management is about efficiency and transparency. By rejecting the efficiency that certain technology provides, we’re working against these goals. I also think that, by catastrophizing when new technology is introduced, we’re sending the wrong message to our stakeholders about our purpose in the organization and potentially alienating decision makers. I think we need to get better at putting our problem solving skills to work and finding realistic ways to leverage new technology to achieve the goals of efficiency and transparency.
9. Besides focusing on work, what are some of your other interests or hobbies?
When I’m not at work I might be enjoying the outdoors, playing tabletop games, or spending time with my favorite humans and pets.
10. Do you have a quote you live by?
“We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.” –Leslie Knope