NARA survey on Records Schedule Website

[Posted by request of Anne Mason, Office of the Chief Records Officer, NARA. Easy access to, and interpretation of, records schedules is extremely important for compliance with same, so even if you don’t work with NARA proper it’s possibly worth your while to look at the RCS website and provide feedback re: what’s going well and what could be improved.

Real post from me coming, sometime after my presentation on Personal Digital Archives at Wisconsin Libraries Association tomorrow. Cross my heart.–BH]

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) asks for your assistance by completing a short survey. NARA provides access to Federal agency records control schedules, also referred to as records disposition schedules, on our website (http://archives.gov/records-mgmt/rcs/). These schedules assist Federal agencies by providing authorities for disposal and permanent retention of government records. We would like to hear your thoughts and opinions about the usefulness of this site. This will allow NARA to make informed decisions about improvements to the site so we can better serve you in the future. This survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Be assured that all answers you provide will be kept confidential. Thank you for taking part in this important survey. Please click on the link below to begin.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HD5YTFJ

 

Liaison Management Lessons

Today’s post comes from RMRT member Holly Dolan, MLS. She is Assistant Manager of Electronic Records at Denton County Records Management in Denton, TX.

As a rookie in field of records management I’ve quickly learned that the work we do is as much about people and their behavior as it is about records. Spanning 58 local government departments, the Records Liaison Officer program in Denton County is meant to provide clear channels for communication, training, and collaboration. Yet, nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

Right now, our goal is to reach a point where our liaisons understand and feel comfortable with their roles. However, I believe that eventually we’ll achieve even more than that—a network of knowledgeable and enthusiastic records liaisons. In the meantime, I’m approaching my job with creativity and a healthy sense of humor.

If you’re also working with liaisons, here’s some advice from the work I’ve done so far:

Make your expectations for liaisons clear. People may get confused if they are appointed to a position or get an ambiguous line on their performance agreement without any clear-cut information about what is expected of them. I’ve worked through this by creatively summarizing information. As a local government, we have an official resolution that spells out records liaison expectations–this might be something like a policy/procedure document or an operational plan if you work in academia or the private sector. I took this lengthy resolution and made it in to a colorful, easy-to-read infographic that spells out these expectations but only takes a couple of minutes to read. The infographic cites the official resolution so that liaisons know where to find the complete document.

Liaison Infographic

Be a face, not just an e-mail. I’m making a point to go out and meet each one of our liaison officers individually. Is it difficult to get meetings with 58 people? Yes. Is it worth it to form trusting work-relationships with people? Yes. After an in-person meeting, my liaisons seem to understand that my goal is to make everyone’s jobs easier, so they’re more open to asking questions. I also receive invaluable information about the workflows of these departments that help me when designing training.

Think about scale and relevance when designing training. Remember that training materials for a department of 3 people may be very different than training materials for a department of 50. Try to learn as much as you can about the functions and needs of your liaisons’ offices before sending them training materials. Some liaisons can learn all the information they need from a handout. Others will probably need webinars, in-person trainings, or even several weeks of hands-on consultation to achieve records management goals. Try to cater to the needs of the department.

Don’t take anything personally. Even though you’re not trying to “shake things up,” implementing records liaisons is a change and people may resist you. You’ll be met with a few strained-but-polite smiles, ignored e-mails, or brusque responses. Keep smiling. Keep giving people information and responding with compassion.

How do you use ideas from other data repositories in the 21st Century?

Today, data repositories have been divided into at least three institutions.  They are museums, archives, and libraries.  J. Trant has defined these as “Museums most often have unique collections. Rarity and preciousness remain key to the attraction of their objects; it gives them their aura… Museum collections protect and reserve. Contrast this with public lending libraries, grounded in access and in public literacy.  Their goal is to make materials available; their collections are predominantly books, printed in many copies, inexpensively produced, often weeded regularly. Archives consist of items that are not generally intrinsically valuable but essential as evidence, especially in context.” (http://www.archimuse.com/papers/trantConvergence0908-final.pdf).

Continue reading “How do you use ideas from other data repositories in the 21st Century?”

How the Library Deals with Copyright

As we explore the 21st century, we need to realize that the library is composed of paper and digital formats.  The digital books started off as public domain paper documents. On the Internet’s predecessor, Arpanet, Michael Hart created the oldest and largest digital library in 1971.  He named it Project Gutenberg.  It was going to contain all public domain books in electronic format for free to anyone who wanted to download them and read them (https://archive.org/details/gutenberg&tab=collection ).  “Its goal, formulated by Mr. Hart, was “to encourage the creation and distribution of e-books” and, by making books available to computer users at no cost, “to help break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/09/business/michael-hart-a-pioneer-of-e-books-dies-at-64.html?_r=0). This digital library now houses more than 30,000 books in 60 languages.  The categories for this library are: “light literature,” “heavy literature” and reference works to the general reader.  It also contains a few copyrighted books that are reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner.   Ann Gilliland, one of the professors of the “Copyright for Educators & Librarians  Course”  stated that, “Material that is not in copyright, and or that is not copyrightable, and is free to use, is in the public domain” (Duke University, Emory University & The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

Continue reading “How the Library Deals with Copyright”

Librarians Will Be Forever Needed

Recently, I have encountered many librarians who are worried about libraries becoming bookless (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/would-you-work-bookless-library-lorette-weldon)  institutions.  Many have forgotten that libraries are primary centers or repositories for collections of books and any other sources of data to be made available at no cost to the general public.

Over 70 years ago, Vannevar Bush (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/)  proposed “memex”.  This was to be a device about the size of a desk which could store all the books, records, and communications, of an organization, on some type of media from which this data could be retrieved.  Dr. Bush had no means to realize his suggestion.  However, the suggestion was a theoretical proposal for what has become the hypertext system and digitization of data for today’s storage means.  Hence, I view the World Wide Web, the cloud, and all other digitized storage means as adjuncts to the modern library.

Continue reading “Librarians Will Be Forever Needed”

Revisited Communication Problems through SharePoint

Introduction

How many of you are still feeling the growing pains of Microsoft SharePoint?  Is it a knowledge management application or a document management solution?  Can it get you fired at a moment’s notice by management because they have an inconceivable notion that SharePoint has artificial intelligence?  Out of the box (OOTB) there is no Watson here.  There is, however, a lot of confusion about what to do with this software called SharePoint.

SharePoint is an organizer for your intranet.  Assume, for the sake of argument, that it helps your workplace’s IT Department manage the file server and the communication channels to all of the departments.  Management defines what it will do for the workplace.  Those under management would define what their department’s SharePoint site would do for their department.  Depending on the governance structure of the SharePoint site, a business could have a clutter-free SharePoint portal with related departmental sites.

Question:  Why would I want to build a SharePoint site?

Answer:  OOTB, SharePoint, has great web parts.

Using SharePoint without Coding

SharePoint uses a technology of programming without coding. This would allow Non-IT librarians, who would not be familiar with database management, to be able to create a web part from within MS SharePoint that would not require any programming knowledge.   The end-user does not have to code to put a fully functional SharePoint site together.

The knowledge of how to do those things would not be the biggest link to success in SharePoint usage in the library. The biggest link would be the connection that the librarian would make with co-workers and project team members.
The Key to Using SharePoint
The key is embedding your organization’s library services into the regular workflow of projects and assignments without anyone noticing this action. It has to be a natural merging of research that would slowly link to other research that would need to be performed for a project. Eventually, it would branch out to a department which would lead to other related departments due to their assigned projects.

Another great reason is that the web parts allow each department to share their “know-how” about how to complete that task more efficiently or how to work software that does not have a manual.  It can also help you manage various file formats for documents and other artifacts from a project.

Bibliography

Weldon, L.S.J. (2012).  Librarians Using SharePoint.  Create Space, SC.  [Distributed through Amazon.com].

Weldon, L.S.J. (2011).  SharePoint without Coding, Volume 2.  Create Space, SC.  [Distributed through Amazon.com].

Weldon, L.S.J. (2010).  SharePoint without Coding.  Create Space, SC.  [Distributed through Amazon.com].

Editor’s Note – this article first published in Computer Savviness – and republished with the author’s permission.

SharePoint Information Literacy (A Sampling from the course, Microsoft SharePoint for Non-IT Users)

Your department has been given access to the new intranet based on the SharePoint platform.  Should you panic or relax?  Perhaps, do both but not enough to raise your blood pressure.  SharePoint is not the culprit for department clutter on the intranet.  Before you start making plans on moving your collection into your department’s SharePoint site, find out the following:  Point of contact for the SharePoint site; Metadata; Metadata structure; Type of permissions that  exist on the SharePoint site; Collection format.

Point of Contact  

Departments look to the Records Manager, Library Director, and Knowledge Manager, for example, to be the main person who will be instrumental in organizing the collection on their department’s SharePoint Site.  Unfortunately, many times it hardly goes to the next step and clutter begins to grow in the department’s site.

PointOfContact

The next step would require you to find out who created the basic SharePoint site for your department.  Who would the Records Manager, Library Director, or Knowledge Manager talk to about their department’s site? Hopefully, your organization already has a contact list for the many different facets of the SharePoint intranet.  Then, your job would be easy because you can go straight to that person on your SharePoint maintenance or structure contact list.  Even if you do not have a “contact list”, your contact will usually be found in IT.

If the contact is not in the IT department, you will have to trace how the SharePoint Intranet was created for your department.  Find out who the technicians, architects, or developers were of the intranet.

Metadata

Once you locate them, then you will need to get them to share how they have defined the metadata and if it meets with your department’s definition.  It is essential to understand how the records for your department will be organized.

Chances are that your metadata will not match with the enterprise metadata.  It depends how closely your collection has been identified with your organization.  Can you easily export your metadata in the record format from your integrated library system into the database (Oracle, SQL, MSDE,etc) used for SharePoint?  Will your records have to be changed to fit the new platform?  Can you just embed a web part to display your integrated library system to save you from a lot of grief?

Metadata

The best way to compare your organization’s metadata against your department’s metadata is to create an Excel Spreadsheet. This will help you not to duplicate any folder structures and avoid “other” folders of information that may clash.  Through the Excel Spreadsheet system, you will avoid adding or changing terms. This would allow uniformity from within your organization.  This will really avoid clutter.  Here is an example of the Excel method.

Metadata_ExcelStructure

The Excel method helped me match the organization’s subject areas with the library collection’s subject areas.  This could also work with records of the organization with matters related to HIPPA, HR; Legal; Management and Support; Projects.

Metadata_Code

Matching up the concepts into a code could help you further connect subject areas and data associated with it.

Permissions

The type of permission you have can help or hinder your progress into getting your library collection available to the organization’s staff.  In order to be able to do anything to your department’s site, you will have to find that point of contact for the intranet.  Ask for the site owner.  The site owner can assign permission levels (or called site groups before Windows SharePoint Services 3.0).   Take this chart to the site owner  and then you will be able to know whether you can do anything with your department’s SharePoint site or will IT have to do whatever you need completed for your department‘s record or library collection.

Default permission levels in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

Permission Level Description
Full Control This permission level contains all permissions. Assigned to the Site name Owners SharePoint group, by default. This permission level cannot be customized or deleted.
Design Can create lists and document libraries, edit pages and apply themes, borders, and style sheets in the Web site. Not assigned to any SharePoint group, by default.
Contribute Can add, edit, and delete items in existing lists and document libraries. Assigned to the Site name Members SharePoint group, by default.
Read Read-only access to the Web site. Users and SharePoint groups with this permission level can view items and pages, open items, and documents. Assigned to the Site name Visitors SharePoint group, by default.
Limited Access The Limited Access permission level is designed to be combined with fine-grained permissions to give users access to a specific list, document library, item, or document, without giving them access to the entire site. However, to access a list or library, for example, a user must have permission to open the parent Web site and read shared data such as the theme and navigation bars of the Web site. The Limited Access permission level cannot be customized or deleted.

NOTE   You cannot assign this permission level to users or SharePoint groups. Instead, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 automatically assigns this permission level to users and SharePoint groups when you grant them access to an object on your site that requires that they have access to a higher level object on which they do not have permissions. For example, if you grant users access to an item in a list and they do not have access to the list itself, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 automatically grants them Limited Access on the list, and also the site, if needed.

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Permission-levels-and-permissions-49d456eb-d3c8-4402-86b1-deb911224afb

Digital, Physical, Hybrid Collection

Once you know how much you can do with your department’s SharePoint site, then you will have to tackle how your collection will be represented in your organization.  Do they want your department to eliminate paper copies or can you have backups making your collection into a Hybrid collection of Physical paper and digital copies.

Each item will need to be identified by a unique identifier like a bar code.  That would help link the physical and the digital records.  SharePoint can help you track who has what record through workflows but if you will have to re-catalog your department’s collection, size and time will have to be considered for you helping your department to avoid the “clutter effect” in your department’s SharePoint site.

Conclusion

No matter how you look at it, in order to have a great information literate staff under your department’s subject of interest, you will need to plan and design policies, taxonomy, governance, imaging for your records. An audit will be required to make sure everything fits together.  You want to avoid the folder called “other”.  You want everyone to be able to know what is in the collection and how to access it.  Hopefully, to keep everyone SharePoint Information Literate, you can work with the “site owner” of the SharePoint site or the IT department to help you use the “Out of the Box” features that SharePoint provides before any customization is needed.

About the Author

Lorette Weldon is the teacher and creator of the online course, Microsoft SharePoint for Non-IT Users (Enroll today at  https://www.udemy.com/microsoft-sharepoint-for-non-it-users/?couponCode=XL04bc ).

Editor’s Note – this article first published in Computer Savviness – and republished with the author’s permission.