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 ( 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.



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.” (

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 ( ).  “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.” 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 (  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 (  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


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.


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

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

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

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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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


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.

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.


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 ).

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

Computer Savviness: Step 4 to Information Literacy

Do you consider yourself computer savvy?  A survey was conducted from April 19, 2011 to April 20, 2011 pertaining to librarians and their computer savvy skills. It was found that librarians were able to troubleshoot and problem solve technological errors. This did not necessarily mean that they could write code for their computers but this troubleshooting and problem solving translated into individuals who had a willingness for the Three T’s (Talking, Tinkering, and Traveling) about problems that they would encounter (Weldon, 2012).  The Three T’s approach helped them understand the impact of emerging technologies and their influence on the attitudes, behaviors, and needs of information users needed for their profession (Weldon, 2012).

The Problem Solver

Computer Savvy means that an individual is flexible enough to learn new concepts, methods, and technology as developed for private and/or professional uses. Many computer savvy individuals from the survey experienced the evolution of technology during their careers, moving from card catalogs or OCLC, to searching via acoustic coupler/telephone, CD-ROMs, and then moving into Internet technologies via Gopher, WWW, Web 2.0, and mobile devices. One of the criteria to being computer savvy is not being afraid of computers and to not assume that you could break it. Confidence contributes to a person’s knowledge of computers.

In the use of computers, applications, etc., a computer savvy person would need to feel pretty confident to be able to figure them out without much reference to a manual.   A computer savvy person would consider computer technology a second language with the ability to do minor problem solving without being an expert.

The person has to have an understanding of the history of certain aspects of computing, so that they could at least give the basic information about concerns regarding computer usage/Internet usage. A computer savvy person could have a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia, which would give them a leg up at least, again, in the use of computers (as opposed to computer science/engineers who understand the mechanics of computers).

Three T’s Learning Method

 Survey participants said that computer savvy meant the ability to adapt to changes in technology which is really using The Three T’s learning method (talking, tinkering, and traveling).  There is a certain knowledge of basic productivity software, coupled with relevant information management tools that exist for the computer savvy professional.  It means that you know how to use a computer and most standard software without looking awkward or asking for help every 10 minutes.  Computer savvy means that you are not afraid to try and figure it out.

First, librarians would discuss (Talk) needs with computing staff and being able to get their ideas across with an understanding of what they are saying in return. This would be conducted in the frame of mind of not being afraid of computers and recognizing that they are quite useful tools, but also have limitations.

Second, librarians would tinker with concepts to understand end-users’ needs in order to evaluate software. They would solve minor computer problems on their own by bridging the gap between systems/technology concepts and the end-user experience.

Third, librarians would allow the computer savvy person to know that if they were unable to “fix” or reprogram the system; they would have the understanding and vocabulary to travel to someone who would know how to fix it.   Traveling would occur through the talking and tinkering processes when assisting customers with the latest innovations by sharing more insights gained from discussing library needs with information technology specialists.

Emerging Technologies

A computer savvy person should be able to quickly learn new software and technologies and understand how they apply to their work. This individual should be familiar with newer technologies (though not necessarily cutting edge) enough to understand what they are and how they might affect their work in the future. Computer savvy people are able to use technology to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively without being scared to try new technologies.  This would include being familiar with tools, comfortable with exploring software capabilities, ability to manipulate data for meaningful reports.

The following 3 viewpoints summarizes how librarians viewed the learning process of becoming computer savvy in 2011:

  • Viewpoint 1: I can figure out what I need to do if materials are written in plain English and/or I’m working with/being trained by people who can simplify complicated IT concepts. Tech isn’t scary if you can get guidance from those rare birds who can speak tech and English too. 😉 Whoever wrote the directions in Google Analytics is/are my hero(es): simple, straightforward, visual examples, and “what if?” options.
  • Viewpoint 2: In my worldview, a computer savvy person is someone who can work with a computer in every stage of its life – from building the actual machine from raw parts, to facilitating network access, creating applications (to include the creation of mobile apps), the ability to intuitively navigate open source CMS options on the fly, the ability to troubleshoot any technical difficulties without outside assistance, and the understanding of how these pieces fit together and impact one another. I would say that the typical librarian needs about 8 screenshots in order to figure out how to map to a network printer, or in order to figure out how to turn a word doc into an adobe PDF. As a profession, we are PAINFULLY behind the rest of the global community. To call ourselves “information professionals” makes this an ever more striking phenomenon. I myself, as a more or less textbook example of a Millennial, navigate just fine on the web, am constantly in contact via my iPhone and all the other cliché avenues available, am never far from accessing my Facebook account, am adept at running 10 different computer programs at once and doing so just fine, and can handle the basics of what my computer throws at me. But I would DEFINITELY NOT say that I’m computer savvy. I’ve never programmed anything, trying to speak JavaScript makes my head hurt, I don’t know the latest free open source virus protection programs or games, I wouldn’t know what to do with a Drupal skeleton if you put it in front of me, I’ve never made a mobile app, I’ve never played with a physical server, and I rely on others to fix my computer when it acts up. Just this past week, I gave my “broken” laptop to a friend who used to work at a technology organization. I thought it was broken for good, as it had a nasty virus and hadn’t functioned for 2 years (the operating system would try to launch, but couldn’t, and would shut down and restart in a never-ending cycle). But within 2 hours, this person had the laptop running beautifully, installed open source virus protection, restored ALL of my data, and had me hooked into his wireless, all of which worked flawlessly. That’s a computer savvy person. I don’t think that you can fairly say that about 90% of the library community.
  • Viewpoint 3:  The fact that I hold a position as a deputy Chief Information officer, a job that did not exist when I first started working means that I have devoted time and effort to continuing to learn new skills and obtain knowledge so that I can keep my professional skills up to date.   Finding solutions to problems through creative uses of information technology. 

Are you computer savvy in the 21st century? 

Stay tuned for more adventures in information literacy.

References by the author

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

Archiving Transparency and Accountability: Step 3 to Information Literacy

After the first semester that a new course is taught, I have noticed teachers asking each other for a copy of their lesson plans for that course, if they survived a semester teaching it.   This echoes the cries of the United States educational system wanting a miracle teaching method that could be used in any subject for any course for any student’s educational level.  This is the same for information professionals.  They are teachers who are using the same steps to archive, manage records, and perform reference services to help customers gain access to the information housed in various institutions and organizations throughout the world.  Everyone wants the transparency on how to find that information.  Basically, this is the transparency of how we have done are jobs to provide access to this information.

Through my series of steps to information literacy, I have found that the memory is a great place to store how we do our duties but what if others could benefit from knowing “how” we did it?  This goes back to wondering if your clients remember how to use your search tools to access the information stored at their educational institution or other type of organization.  I created a virtual assistant to review with clients the search methods that were covered face to face.  ELA, my Electronic Library Assistant, travels to the clients’ offices, homes, and classrooms, to review those searching methods with them 24/7.  So, it is like me “traveling” with them to help them “tinker” with the methods we discussed before and then “talk” about Step3other ways that they could search on their own through the Three T’s method.

ELA has been found to be very compatible with the customers’ computer skills since they could manage to always keep communications with family, fellow classmates/employees, and friends through their smart phones, tablets, and laptops.  I created a virtual teaching assistant in a blended-animated flipped classroom environment that would incorporate the technology that the customers held dear and allowed them to keep a constant flow of customer engagement inside and outside of their workplaces.  Through this virtual environment, a video archive is created that customers could go back to anytime and anywhere with lessons based upon what I had experienced with them and/or other customers (no customer names are stored).  The teaching methods are stored for continual viewing.

Any archivist, records manager, or other type of information professional, can do this for accountability and transparency of their work to be shown to their customers and departments.  If you are interested in finding out more about it, I will be giving a webinar, for Innovative Educators, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, on how to create accountability and transparency in your job through a virtual teaching assistant.  Information professionals and administrators are shown how to make a virtual teaching assistant and how to incorporate it into their presentations through,, and Camtasia.

Stay tuned for more adventures in information literacy.

Read more about ELA:

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

RMRT Annual Meeting Roundup, ft. @rlayel!

Hi all,

With SAA’s annual meeting a bit more than a week away, we here at The Schedule thought the time was ripe to post some of the things you’ll want to know about if you’re going to be attending the RMRT meeting in New Orleans.

First of all, if you haven’t yet checked out the new SAA Scheduler app, you really should– the interface is much more intuitive and fluid than it has been in the past, and you can create your personalized conference schedule by “starring” events you’ll be attending. You can also see who else is going to be at a given session, which is nice if you’re looking to meet up with people. The link to the RMRT meeting on Friday, August 16 is here.

Now. Having said that? The information about the presentation at that link is not quite right, due to a few communication errors. Luckily, we have an updated blurb for you all straight from Ron Layel, who will be talking about his work all over the federal government. Better yet, unlike the SAA program template, he has more than 50 words in which to describe it! Take it away, Ron:

This presentation summarizes current thinking and future prospects for the programs and practices of archiving electronic records by federal government agencies. It discusses and seeks to clarify the meaning of “archiving”, as used by government Records/Information Management (RIM) professionals, and as distinguished from how the term is used by IT managers and practitioners. Also discussed and analyzed are the overarching goals of the November, 2011 Presidential Memorandum and last year’s new NARA/OMB Directive, “Managing Federal Records”, as it relates to significant reforms being made in how federal agency RIM programs will update policies and practices for proper capture and life-cycle management of all government electronic records. Focus will be on how these reformed RIM programs will enhance openness/accountability of government by making records more easily accessible to the public, and on how federal records having long-term/permanent historical value will be digitally “archived” to ensure preservation and accessibility for future generations.

Responses to the Presidential Memorandum, the NARA directive stemming from it, government transparency, and digital archives? Sounds good to me! Particularly if you were at last year’s joint session with the Government Records Section on the Presidential Records Memorandum, this should be a good opportunity to hear about how some agencies are working to put it into practice.

Also at the meeting, we will be voting to confirm (or confirm the nomination) of some potential new steering committee members. As noted in my email last week, we’re recruiting some additional nominees to round out the Steering Committee, and hopefully to add some breadth to the types and sizes of the covered institutions. Here, I’m going to quote myself from an email I answered about the time and nature of the commitment:

Generally, your time commitment is no more than about 2-4 hours a month. We have one 45-60 minute teleconference each month with the whole steering committee, and then similar time commitments working with the various subcommittees (Education, ARMA Outreach, Student Outreach, Resources, etc.) that each SC member is responsible for. There’ll be bursts of activity– for example, we’re putting together a webinar for SAA, which takes a lot of time to write outlines, powerpoints, etc.– but mostly the committment is pretty minimal.

The biggest thing about the RMRT Steering Committee is that we are traditionally very democratic– there are a few projects we try to set in motion at the beginning of the term, but other than that we’re very open to suggestions about new directions in which we can take the activities of the roundtable. The downside to this, of course, is that it’s very easy for us to run in place without guidance on some of these initiatives. So if you’re interested in the Steering Committee, it is a big help if you come in with some idea of what it is you want to focus on for RMRT– we can then work within the committee to see if we can make that idea a reality.

Joining the steering committee is a great, low-impact way to get involved with SAA leadership– we have a number of steering committee alumni who have gone on to chair other sections, roundtables, and other SAA component groups– and to help promote the records management field within the SAA framework. If you’re interested, or if you just want more info, please send me an email. we’ll be taking self-nominations up to August 15, so there’s still lots of time to decide.

Last, but not least, the RMRT will be holding a short happy hour get-together for its members the evening of Thursday, August 15, after the last session but before the alumni mixer. We don’t have a place in mind yet, but we’ll be looking for someplace with food so if people want to eat dinner or get a pre-mixer snack, the option is there. Watch this space for the official announcement of venue. Suggestions are both welcome and appreciated.

We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!