“We’re all mad here”: Google Team Drives

Alice’s Abenteuer im Wunderland / 
Public Domain

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.”

Chapter 6, Alice in Wonderland





Let me candid: I was not pleased by this announcement. 

I am not in IT and I certainly cannot fathom providing technological solutions to an institution as large, diverse and decentralized as the University of Michigan. Yet to give unfettered access to a shared storage service with nothing but a small page of “Best Practices” to read from…is this really what we need? Another – albeit virtual – basement to stuff documents into? Annoyed, my eye twitching a little, I closed my computer and went home for the evening.

The next day and with a cooler head, I considered how we should address this potential new recordkeeping challenge.

ITS is focused upon providing technical solutions for records and information storage—> Archivists are charged with the identification of records and information of enduring historical value —> Records and information management is as much about understanding human behavior and bureaucratic processes as it is about the records and information —> I know how people are going to use Google Team Drives and….

This is when it hit me. I don’t actually know how people are going to use Google Team Drive. I don’t actually even know if IT knows about the University Archives outside of “old things”. 

This realization has inspired an outline of a plan. I need evidence to support or disprove my assumptions.

Plan Part I.

ITS provides a comparison matrix to assist members of the University community to make decisions as to what collaboration and document storage services they need. We can build upon this framework and evaluate these services against additional high-level business needs for managing digital records. Once completed, perhaps ITS will be better positioned to spread word of the services offered by University Archives and Records Management Program. Perhaps they’ll even see the value in evaluating future services by the same criteria.

(see NARA’s Universal Electronic Records Management Requirements for inspiration.)

Plan Part II.

Find out how Google Team Drives is being used across campus. If approved, a large-scale study would at the very least involve cooperation from many parties including: IT, IT divisions within each school and college, administrative leadership, and staff from across a wide variety of business areas.

As this is still only a sketch of a plan, I am very interested in hearing from anyone* who is:

  • Currently experiencing the roll out of Google Team Drives
  • Has survived the roll out of Google Team Drives
  • Is currently reviewing Google Team Drives
  • Have developed a set of workarounds e.g., recommended apps that extend the functionality of Google Apps for Education
  • Has a set of ERM requirements to share or recommend
  • Uses Google Team Drives in your own work

*Although I work in a public higher education system, we all have experienced similar challenges and concerns in our work. I value your thoughts, reactions, and questions! Feel free to message me at ecarron@umich.edu or via Twitter at @heyellee.


Advertisements

How (not) to schedule electronic messages: a case study/cautionary tale

Welcome to RIM Month! I have been promising/threatening my fellow Steering Committee members to write this post for a while now. My ability to write it, however, has been significantly impacted by the extent to which I have been absolutely BIFFING the process. Stakeholders have been angered; records management best practices/commandments have been violated; capstone models have been altered; hair has been pulled out in frustration; records managers have been called on the carpet*. The worst part is that it’s not even done! I’m at, at best, a holding pattern to a point where I can maybe, MAYBE submit a schedule to be approved by the state board next quarter. The frustration continues.

The tl;dr of the below: Scheduling electronic messages is COMPLICATED, particularly in the public sector. You are walking a fine line between the dictates of the historical record, the operational needs of the organization, the technical capacity of your IT department, and the political/legal considerations of the public officials affected. These four factors are, more often than not, diametrically opposed (yes, there’s four of them and they’re ALL diametrically opposed; that’s how complicated it is). I, frankly, did not walk the line very well. If we represent the hazards as shark tanks on all sides, I am currently on dry land, but bloody and scratched and missing some chunks. So: Learn from my mistakes! Don’t go charging in without considering the ramifications! This is a case where “better to ask forgiveness than permission” definitely does not apply.

This is, as per usual, going to be a long one; I’m probably breaking it up into at least 3 installments. For the purposes of this blog post (and what I was actually focusing on), I am going to refer specifically to scheduling text messages below, but the lessons learned can apply to emails, social media, and other forms of electronic communication as well (and, to a certain extent, to all formats of record). Read on after the jump.

*”Passive Voice is the refuge of scoundrels”—Unknown Continue reading “How (not) to schedule electronic messages: a case study/cautionary tale”

To Become Like Living People

The following is a RMS guest post by Maarja Krusten, a retired Federal government historian who worked on records, archives, and historical research assignments and served for 14 years as an archivist in NARA’s Office of Presidential Libraries. 

Margaret M. H. Finch once said that working with permanently valuable Federal records made the people described in them “almost become living people.”  Who was Finch?  And what provides context for her own story?  Records!

After the death of her husband in 1918 during the influenza epidemic at the end of World War I, M. M. H Finch joined the Pension Bureau.  She became a branch chief and top expert in the pension records of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.  In 1940, the Pension Bureau transferred the records to the National Archives.

Finch transferred to the National Archives at the time the pension records were accessioned and worked there until her retirement in 1949.  In 2015, the staff of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) shared Finch’s story on Social Media:

“She continued to help researchers locate pension files but also gave numerous talks about researching in the records. . . .In an interview conducted upon her retirement, she explained the files made the men who served ‘almost become living people, and their descriptions of battles in which they fought are so real you feel like you’ve been an actual participator.’”

Finch
Mrs. Margaret M. H. Finch worked for the National Archives from 1940 until 1949. Image Credit: National Archives and Records Administration Facebook Page.

The research I’ve done on the construction of office buildings in Washington, DC. enhances and provides context for Finch’s story.  The National Archives holds textual and photographic records from the Commission of Fine Arts (Record Group 66) and the Public Buildings Service (RG 121).  These include a wonderful photo taken in 1940 of the Pension Building where Finch once worked. I tweeted the photo in 2017—note my inclusion of the source information!

We can use such stories to show why records matter.  Records managers ensure the proper disposition of records, including the retention of those that have historical value.  But information professionals know that the people they serve in academic, corporate, government, and other offices are busy with day-to-day mission work.

Where do employees hear about what is happening with records created outside their employing organizations?  Sometimes, it’s in a negative context—a data hack, the leak of internal documents, controversies over who said what and when.   But there are positive examples out there, as well.  And not just in the history books some of us love to read.

I’ve been thinking about that in the context of working many Education and Public Programs Division events at the National Archives and Records Administration.  Some relate to temporary displays, others to long-term exhibits, such as “Remembering Vietnam,” which ran November 10, 2017 to February 28, 2019.

I met many Vietnam war veterans over the course of the last year as I helped staff programs related to the exhibit.  I found seeing veterans reconnect with their past experiences through the records shown in the exhibit and displayed during panel discussions deeply poignant.

Last February I talked to visitors to the National Archives Museum about the Emancipation Proclamation.  It’s a fragile document displayed only once a year, at most, and then only for three days.  I especially enjoyed the questions from students, one of whom pointed to a faded circle on the last page and asked if someone had set down a cup of coffee!

A great opportunity to talk about conservation—not just the iron-based ink, but why the seal and ribbons at the top of the last page deteriorated over time.  And why President Abraham Lincoln signed his full name., not just the A. Lincoln he used in routine documents.

Employees participate in records management training sessions in-person or online. But unless they work as historians, policy analysts, lawyers, or in other knowledge-dependent functions, they may not have time to think about why saving historically valuable records is as important as destroying or deleting ones that only have short-term value.

Sure, they may see news of an important records release by the National Archives. Or they go to see exhibits in archives, museums, historical societies.  But they may not think about the insights records preserve about their own places of employment.   Let’s help them see that their stories matter, too.

Whether we work in academic, corporate, or governmental settings, we can look for stories about the places where we work.  And use them to bring the past to life. By providing interesting historical information about the construction of the buildings in which they work.  Or how the employing organization’s workplace evolved over time. And what it took to make change happen.

To connect past and present.  And to remind employees that they are part of a valuable through line.  One that stretches from those who came before to those who will follow.  Preserved for future use by records managers–and those who support them.

A Record Center is Not an Archives: Some thoughts from an interview

So, some context: one of my employees (I won’t name her here unless she sees this and asks me to) is currently pursuing her MLIS from SJSU. A recent assignment for one of her classes was to interview a practicing Archivist and/or Records Manager about the “qualified practices” of the profession and write up a paper/presentation/something else summarizing and analyzing it. Did she happen to know anyone like that in her immediate circle? As it happens, she did!

I think a lot of professionals on the archives/RM border have done these interviews, because we are still (somehow) an anomaly to MLS/MIS graduate students. Which, fair enough! I didn’t really even realize records management was a thing until I was already in the program. So some of the questions she asked me were pretty bog-standard… but then some of them were very insightful, particularly asking me to talk about the intersections and differences between the Archives and Records Management professions. Because of the vagaries of our schedules, she asked me to write the answers to the questions rather than conducting an interview per se… So, having written those, I said to myself, “I bet I could repurpose these somehow.” And so, following her permission now that she’s submitted these for credit, I have! Below the jump, a selection of her questions and my answers (lightly edited for the purposes of this blog). In addition to the discussion of intersections, there’s some hints at what I am trying to do to improve the archival component of the City’s records program (to be elaborated on further in a later blog post).

Am I blowing smoke about how the professions fit together? Do you disagree with my assessment of how the profession is changing? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments!

Continue reading “A Record Center is Not an Archives: Some thoughts from an interview”

SAA RMS bibliography completed in Zotero . . . for now!

The SAA Records Management Section steering committee has been working hard over the past several years to improve upon the records management bibliography that was disseminated in 2008 (and, in case you’re interested in historical RM documentation, is available on our microsite at https://www2.archivists.org/groups/records-management-section/documents-library — file name RMRTBibliography2012.pdf because it was published as a PDF in 2012).

For the past two years, this bibliography has been available on the Zotero platform (https://www.zotero.org/groups/404345/saa_records_management_section/items), and during this time, we’ve been working hard to validate the accessibility of these resources.  And to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this resource, we’ve also tried to update the list with more recent resources:

  • Beth Cron, the outgoing Immediate Past Chair of the Records Management Section, has been especially dependable in helping me review resources.
  • Jennifer Bolmarcich helped us add resources from ARMA publications.
  • Alex Toner and I contacted instructors at the top ten graduate schools listed on the U.S. News and World Report list of library and information schools and requested feedback about resources they require students to read related to records management.

Zotero library categoriesI’ve tried to organize the resources into logical groupings, which you can see on the right.  By clicking on any of these folders, you can see the relevant resources listed.  The library is also searchable by title, creator, year; for the resources that I was able to download as a PDF, that text is also fully searchable.  Many of the resources have been tagged, so you can also click on a tag in order to see a list of the related resources.

I’ve been hesitant to include resources that are no longer accessible because I don’t want to frustrate visitors who find an interesting citation but cannot find the relevant resource.  But this raises an interesting records management question in and of itself — is there a way the RM community can work together to maintain the accessibility of resources that otherwise may disappear when organizations go defunct or decide to cull their available inventory?

Although I’m happy for the time being to put a check mark beside this item on my to-do list, we fully intend for this resource to be a work in progress.  So if you know of additional resources from which the rest of the RM community could benefit, let us know so we can incorporate them into the bibliography.

NARA’s Federal Electronic Records Modernization Initiative: An Overview

Today’s post comes from NARA’s Office of the Chief Records Officer. 

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) launched the Federal Electronic Modernization Initiative (FERMI) to help agencies procure the services and solutions they need to manage their electronic records. We are approaching this in a few different ways. While Federal agencies may have different missions, structures, and resources, they do have common needs for managing their electronic records. They all need to manage their records in compliance NARA’s statutes, regulations, and guidance. We want to make it easier to figure out which services and solutions meet the requirements.

FERMI image 5-22-18

FERMI emerged from the Automated Electronic Records Management Plan, written to support the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18). FERMI aims to to provide a government-wide, modern, cost-effective, standardized, and inter-operable set of records management solutions providing common, core functionality to support records management services for Federal agencies.

First, we are working with two groups at the General Services Administration (GSA): the Unified Shared Services Management (USSM) office under the Office of Shared Solutions and Performance Improvement (OSSPI) and the Schedule 36 team under the Federal Acquisitions Services (FAS).   

Unified Shared Services Management

NARA is the Standards Lead for Records Management and participates on the Business Standards Council. We provide records management input to the other Services Areas (Human Capital, Financial Management, Grants Management, IT, etc.). USSM produced the Federal Integrated Business Framework (FIBF)  to help the Federal Government better coordinate and document common business needs across agencies and focus on outcomes, data, processes and performance.

GSA’s Schedule 36

We worked with GSA to create a Special Item Number (SIN) for Electronic Records Management (ERM) in Schedule 36. The existing SIN 51 504 was updated to solely include services related to physical records management. SIN 51 600 – Electronic Records Management Solutions was created for services necessary to provide a total ERM solution.  Vendors must self-certify they meet the Universal ERM Requirements to be included in SIN 51 600.

Universal ERM Requirements

The Universal ERM Requirements identify high level business needs for managing electronic records. They are baseline ERM program requirements derived from existing NARA regulations, policy, and guidance. They are a starting point for agencies to use when developing system requirements. Records management staff should work with acquisitions and IT personnel to tailor any final system requirements.

In addition, we worked with our stakeholder groups to develop the following two products:

Electronic Records Management Federal Integrated Business Framework (ERM-FIBF)

The ERM-FIBF is a model framework that identifies the key functions, activities, and capabilities necessary for agencies to manage their electronic records. The ERM-FIBF was developed according to standards set out in USSM’s FIBF. This document maps capabilities to authoritative references, including statutes, regulations, guidance, and standards.

Use Cases for Electronic Messages

The Use Cases for Electronic Messages serve as a tool agencies can use when procuring services or solutions to manage electronic messages. They can be used by agencies to demonstrate how vendors perform the described requirements and workflows. These are built directly off the ERM- FIBF. They tell the “stories” of how to manage electronic messages.

We posted the ERM-FIBF and Use of Cases for Electronic Messages for comment in January and received over 200 comments.

We are excited to share these updates about our FERMI project. If you are planning to attend the Joint Annual Meeting in August, you can hear more about FERMI by attending Session #405. Also you can follow NARA’s Record Express blog for FERMI updates!

A Records Center is not an Archives: Transfer Forms!

[Note: This was a forum post to the Records Management Section list on SAA’s site that got a little out of hand. Rather than clog everyone’s mailbox, I decided to post it here. The fact that I can add Futurama GIFs to posts here, and not on SAA Connect, had absolutely nothing to do with this decision (he said, unconvincingly.)

For your reference, the original question:]

I’m interested in ANY AND ALL advice you’ll give me on forms and procedure for transferring records to a Record Center.

Our Records Center is revising the information that we ask for from our departments when they transfer records to us for storage, scanning, and/or destruction. I’m interested in seeing your version of a Records Center transfer form.

Do you ask for information at the box level, file level, or both? Do you require a full inventory of each box transferred? Why or why not?

With complex records policies, I’m concerned about overwhelming our customers with another complex form. What methods have you used to educate your users on how to transfer records to your facility? 

Thanks for your help!

Holly

Continue reading “A Records Center is not an Archives: Transfer Forms!”