Resourceful Records Managers! Courtney Bailey, Chair, SAA Records Management Section 2019-2020

As Jessika knows, I’ve hesitated to participate in her series on Resourceful Records Managers because I suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome.  I’ve been on the Records Management Round Table/Section since 2015, and I think I’ve done some good work over the years on things like reviewing open source software programs and migrating and updating a records management bibliography into Zotero.  But I don’t actually manage records as a part of my job, hence my imposter syndrome. However, now that I’m Chair of the Records Management Section, I’ve decided I can’t put this off any longer!

1. What is your educational background?

I earned a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master of Arts in Teaching at Duke University.  After teaching in a public high school in Durham for 16 years, I decided I needed a new intellectual challenge.  During the summers when I was teaching I often participated in professional development workshops, and I was fortunate enough to travel to a number of presidential libraries.  And as a history student, I’d done a lot of research in archives, so it seemed a logical transition to consider archival work. I got an MSLS from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, focusing on the archives and records management (ARM) track.

2. What is your role at your institution?

I’m a Records Analyst at the State Archives of North Carolina.  In this role, I consult with state and local governmental agencies along with community colleges and UNC system institutions on the creation, maintenance, and disposition of information in all formats and media.  I provide advice on public records concerns, electronic records, filing and storage systems, and disaster recovery. And I regularly conduct records management workshops.

3. How did you first become interested in records management?

In my formal coursework, the primary exposure to records management came in an appraisal class.  Whenever I had the opportunity to focus my own research, I tried to focus on a topic that would fill in a gap for me, and in this case, I looked into records management in the business arena.  I discovered there’s a logic to good records management that really appeals to me.

4. What led you to choose your current career in records management?

There’s no glamorous way to answer this question.  I fell victim to the surfeit of archival students that are pumped out of library science schools every year, and I didn’t have the flexibility to chase a job anywhere around the country.  Because of my teaching and research backgrounds and my good people skills, I thought I would be a good reference archivist. But when a job became available at the State Archives of North Carolina in the Records Analysis Unit, I saw a way to develop my skills in the records management arena while also being able to use my teaching abilities in creating and delivering workshops and online tutorials.

5. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like the opportunities I have to employ my expertise to ease people’s fears about possibly doing the wrong things with their records and to provide them with the knowledge and confidence to carry out their duties successfully.  As someone who likes to solve problems and who thinks well on my feet, I operate well in situations where people ask me very specific and sometimes quite technical questions about their records. And I also love that my job is not a traditional desk job.  I’m frequently out of the office for a number of reasons:

  • consultations with state agencies about records management questions
  • workshops for government employees about records management and public records law
  • appraisals of materials that might transfer to the State Archives
  • pickups of archival materials from local courthouses

 

6. Do you have a mentor who has helped you in the records management field?

About a year after I took my job as a records analyst for the State Archives of North Carolina, a colleague and I were tasked with leading a functional scheduling initiative to overhaul the way records are scheduled for state agencies.  Although both of us had good academic training in archives and records management, we were both relatively new to the field, so we were interested in learning what other states had already accomplished in this field. I realized when I was doing research for my master’s paper that archivists are generally ready and willing to share their expertise, so based on that assumption, we contacted Russell Wood at the Washington State Archives.  He’d been brought in from Australia based on his knowledge and experience with functional scheduling, and he graciously answered our many questions about his work on both continents and helped us get on the right path. When I attended the SAA annual meeting in 2016, I learned about the work Mike Strom had done in Wyoming, so I later followed up with him to discover more information about their development and implementation processes. After successfully launching the new Functional Schedule for North Carolina State Agencies in December 2017, I got back in touch with Russell and Mike, and they graciously agreed to team up for a panel discussion at the 2018 SAA annual meeting.

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

The functional scheduling initiative that was originally a two-person assignment became a one-person job when my colleague moved on to a new position.  But I was still able to meet all of our benchmarks and complete the project on time. Where we’d previously had over 40,000 separate records series on hundreds of retention schedules for specific entities within state government, I was able to consolidate these into 700-some records series within 16 functions on the new schedule.  (You can find all the details in the case study I wrote for the Government Records Section.)

As I was working on these functional schedules, I was also working with university records officers from the UNC system institutions in order to update their decade-old general schedule.  This provided us with an opportunity to craft a schedule that more accurately reflects the recordkeeping practices of current institutions of higher learning by engaging with subject matter experts representing the various functions of university institutions.

8. What type of institutional settings have you worked in?

In both my teaching and ARM careers, I have worked in the public sector.  There are certainly advantages that come from this because you can find people who are incredibly devoted to their work (and must be to accept the lower salaries!).

9. What advice would you give to an individual considering records management as a career?

Be willing to ask for assistance.  There is a lot of very specialized knowledge involved in records management, so it’s hard for one person to be great at all of it.  I’ve found it especially useful to make my relationships with other government employees two-way streets – for instance, I used my expertise to help an HR office craft a good electronic records policy, then when I needed some clarifications about the proper handling of immigration documentation, I looked to them as subject matter experts.

10. Do you belong to any professional organizations?

I joined both the Society of North Carolina Archivists and the Society of American Archivists when I was a student at SILS, and I have maintained both memberships.  I was also a member of ARMA while I was a student, but once that rate was no longer available to me, I found it no longer feasible to remain a member.

11. Thoughts on the future of records management?

We as records managers need to do a better job of convincing people that good records management is the foundation for success in every realm, be it healthcare, corporate work, government work, or academic institutions.  The compliance aspect of RM is obvious, but I think it’s also important to emphasize the role good RM plays in continuity of organizations, whether that be in disaster recovery, strategic planning, or institutional memory in the face of staff turnover.  And although the professional literature may lead us to think otherwise, I believe there’s a great deal of synergy between records management and archival work. In any sort of institutional setting, good records management can ensure the records that have been appraised as having enduring value will be available to the archive.

12. What do you perceive as the biggest challenges in the records management field?

While I was a student at SILS, I became interested in how manuscript repositories handle born-digital records, and I wrote my master’s paper on this topic.  Although it’s been a number of years since I wrote this paper, some of the issues I raised especially about appraisal and access have still not been resolved with any consistent solutions throughout the ARM realm.  I also think maintaining privacy is a big challenge for records management, especially as more and more records are created and maintained electronically. Take something like health records – records managers had pretty much figured out how to protect the privacy of paper patient records, but with the proliferation of EHRs/EMRs, there are many more factors to consider (e.g., the vendor who stored the records, the browser that is used to access the records, etc.).  I also think it’ll be interesting to see how GDPR filters into the U.S. realm.

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

I’ve played tennis for a long time, and I also sing in the Chapel Choir at Duke University.  And because writing isn’t something required in my day-to-day job, I try to keep my skills sharp by maintaining my own blog about issues related to records management, archives, and libraries (https://cbaileymsls.wordpress.com/).

14. Do you have a favorite quote?

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.”

– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Resourceful Records Managers

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.

holly

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

 

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!)

 

Resourceful Records Managers- Brad Houston

Our eagerly anticipated series Resourceful Records Managers returns! This month we meet Brad Houston, City Records Officer and Document Services Manager for the City of Milwaukee.

*If you would like to be included in this feature please contact Jessika Drmacich,  jgd1(at)williams(dot)edu.

BradHouston

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

Honestly, I kind of fell into it– took a RM course as an elective during my archives program at the University of Maryland, had an RM internship in the Executive Office of the President that summer, and when I was done with school I took a job at UW-Milwaukee doing records management. Somewhere along the line I said “hey, this is actually really cool” and I haven’t looked back.

What is your educational background?

I have a BA from Grinnell College and an MLS from the University of Maryland-College Park, back when it was still the College of Library and Information Studies. (I refuse to use the i-word in conjunction with that program. I got in before it happened, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) While I was at Maryland, I participated in the HiLS (History and Library Science) program, which allowed me to work on my MA in European History at the same time as I was working on my MLS.

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

A few– mostly members of the Records Management Roundtable steering committee, who were very good about reaching out to new members and providing good advice about progressing in the RM side of the Archives career. (This is, BTW, one of the reasons I want to do education when I have the time– I want to pay it forward.)

How did you first become interested in Records Management?

I guess it was that internship at the Executive Office of the President I mentioned– I had done archives work before but this was my first real-life exposure to active records, and I found it fascinating. Records are the life-blood of an organization, and categorizing them in series to make sense out of them is an intriguing puzzle to solve.

What is your role at your institution?

As records officer for the City of Milwaukee, my primary duty is to manage and sign off on the city’s records retention program, and a lot of my day is spent on that. I am also, however, manager of the City Records Center, which is Milwaukee’s storage space for inactive records and home of the city’s central imaging program. As I mentioned in my recent(ish) blog post it’s easy to fall into the trap that I’m still overseeing an archive, but I’m constantly reminding myself that a lot of what we have is not going to stay around, by definition. (That said we *do* have a lot of really good archival stuff that we should do more to promote.)

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The challenge! I know that’s a cliche answer but it’s really true– I was getting a bit into a rut at UWM, but working at the City is giving me a chance to work with a functional EDMS and imaging program, a central records system, and learn about entirely new functions and activities of both my unit and of the city as a whole. There’s a lot of work to be done– for example, I am working on cleaning out 4000 of our approximately 5500 schedules, which is obviously going to take a while– but it’s interesting work and likely to keep me busy for a while.

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

Honestly, looking back at my tenure at UWM I am pleased to have left both the records management and electronic records programs better than I found them. I feel like I really raised the profile of both programs and made UWM employees more aware of the their records and archives responsibilities, which is going to lead to more of the University’s institutional history being preserved. That’s a great feeling. Hoping I can replicate it at the City!

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

I’ve worked in University archives and am now working in Local Government. I’ve talked a bit already on this blog about some of the differences, but here’s another one– I am, to a much greater extent than at UWM, on my own with regards to retention management. It was nice having the safety net of my colleagues at the other UW campuses to bounce questions/concerns off of, and to work with on vetting legal and administrative requirements in scheduling; here, I largely have to do that myself (though we do have an Info Management committee that provides review/feedback.) See above about The Challenge.

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

Lean into it! Records Management is an invaluable skill to have, even if you are going to be doing mostly archives, because it encourages you to take an analytical approach towards appraisal, processing, preservation, etc. In general, helping institutions apply records management in situ means less work for you the archivist later. (Plus, of course, you’re making yourself that much more hire-able if you have a specialty like this– Records Managers promise a tangible return on investment to institutions, and so the positions are a bit easier to find.)

Do you belong to any professional organizations?

I’ve been a member of SAA since 2006, a member of the Midwest Archives Conference since 2011, and recently re-upped my membership with ARMA. I also joined NAGARA upon taking this position, since I am still new to Local Government and will take all the help I can get!

Thoughts on the future of records management?

I’m with Don Lueders (https://nextgenrm.com/2017/04/29/on-why-the-records-management-profession-must-endure/) on this– I don’t feel like records management is going to be replaced by information governance, nor should it be. There’s so much stuff being created every day, so much of it is taking up space (physical or otherwise) unnecessarily, and it is our job as information professionals to apply our expertise to, if not solving the problem, at least remediating it. If information governance is part of that solution (and it should be), great. IG doesn’t have the same objectives or focus as RM, however, and it’s important to maintain that focus, especially in a digital world.

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

Again, it’s cliche to say “electronic records”, but it really is! ERMSs are one thing, but increasingly we’re dealing with an information ecosystem that can’t be put into a DoD 5015.2 box, or at least not easily. We need to be actively thinking about the next big thing in the way we as a society convey information, and about what we want to do with that next big thing from a management and retention viewpoint. I feel like a lot of institutions give RM the role of managing paper records only, and we collectively need to push back on that– we have (or should have) a lot to offer in the digital realm as well, and we need to keep growing if we are to survive as a profession.

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

As followers of my Twitter account will soon surmise, I play the Magic: the Gathering collectible card game, I have a more-than-casual interest in National and Wisconsin politics, and I am an outspoken Cubs fan. (They were eliminated last night… Hopefully we won’t have to wait 108 years for the next World Series championship.) I like to bake, garden, and bike ride, but my time for those has been reduced significantly by the birth of my son 2 years ago. (Luckily he’s now at an age where he can help me garden and goes in the bike trailer, but baking with a 2 year old is still a challenge.)

Do you have a quote you live by?

“Sit down and read. Educate yourself for the coming conflicts.” –Mary Harris “Mother” Jones (This is the flavor text on some versions of the Archivist Magic card, which MAY have something to do with my appreciation of this quote.)

 

Resourceful Records Managers!

And, now for our much awaited series: Resourceful Records Managers! This month we meet George Despres, the Program Director for University Records Management at Brandeis University. If you would like to be included in this feature please contact Jessika Drmacich,  jgd1(at)williams(dot)edu.George Despres

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

After re-establishing an archives program at a prior company, I was promoted to head up the archives and records management team. The engagement and breadth of the records management program increasingly drew my interest.   

What is your educational background?

A BA and some graduate school studies in History and a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science, with an Archival Management concentration. I also received my records management certification (CRM).

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

I’ve been lucky to have several mentors. An undergrad professor encouraged me to work as a library intern, and that started my “info pro” career. Another mentor taught me how to work with stakeholders from across an organization – a critical skill for records management success. There are also many brilliant RM thought leaders who help keep me keep current with their social media and professional conference contributions.

How did you first become interested in Records Management?

As I first assumed RM responsibilities, I sat in on a conference talk by a leader in the field, who cited a news headline on records mismanagement and dissected it with great enthusiasm. As I realized that records implications are everywhere, the massiveness (and potential massiveness) of the profession made an impression on me. I also realized that RM would force me to keep up with technological changes that affect digital records. I was hooked.

What is your role at your institution?

I’m Program Director for a university-wide RM program that is almost four years old. I manage one professional assistant and have some part time student assistant support. Having established foundational paper records services (storage, shredding, scanning) I’m leading my program to new initiatives like retention schedule expansion; electronic file and data retention management; continued outreach and engagement, and guidance in RM and knowledge management best practices for Brandeis employees.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I work with every department in the organization and apply a comprehensive view of Brandeis, and information management in general. You get really dialed in to the processes that happen across the organization and learn something new about different professional roles and viewpoints every day. Sitting down with employees to discuss their particular records and info habits and needs is something that I could do all day long. Also, RM is difficult to socialize across an organization, and I love that challenge.  

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

I’ve had the opportunity to establish archives and records programs essentially from scratch. Putting these programs on the organizational map, with much help from others, has provided a deep sense of satisfaction. That said, there’s always room for program improvement.

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

My first RM job was at a non-profit corporation, which ran several federally funded R&D centers (FFRDCs). The IT literacy bar was high, and the corporate feel was fast paced and results-oriented, which I liked. However, the environment was very confidential, so sharing my professional thoughts and experiences outside the company was difficult. This is different in academia, where I’ve been able to establish a blog and reputation among my RM peers by openly sharing professional views and experiences. Universities can also share their retention policies for benchmarking, which is very useful. The pace in academia has been a little slower than in corporate, and program funding can be comparatively modest, as well. In both cases, having at least some senior leadership support has been critical to program success.

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

Information mismanagement is everywhere. There’s guaranteed to be at least one example in today’s (fake and real) news. This has serious ethical, financial, reputational, legal, and personal implications. We need an army of conscientious, passionate records professionals to bring this epidemic under control. It’s a very difficult battle in today’s world of digital records, with proliferation and flow of data everywhere. It’s also an exciting time for info managers. If you have the heart and a bit of a chip on your shoulder, join the fight and bring your best.  

Do you belong to any professional organizations?

I was a member of SAA and NEA, and currently belong to ARMA. I’m serving as Education Director for the ARMA Boston chapter, planning a Certified Records Manager training event. I also chair a small group of academic archivists and records managers (Boston Area Archives and Records Committee/BAARC) that meets quarterly to share professional experiences.

Thoughts on the future of records management?

There has been speculation that artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain technology will replace and/or redefine much of our work. While I see this taking at least a few years to happen, the future records manager will need to follow industry and technical developments carefully and be agile and open-minded to midstream change. We will probably assume less of a custodial role and more of an analytics and rule-making one, automating record and data retention management on the back end and creating a new generation of control guidelines for a world of apps and devices in the Internet of Things.

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

Rapid technology change is increasingly a challenge. We must be continually learning. Getting RM in a place where we can work side-by-side with IT and gaining senior leadership support will be critical and probably won’t be easy in many institutions. Finally, imposing control over digital records that go anywhere and everywhere, and overcoming organizational and civic cultures that accept this, will probably be the biggest challenges.  
Besides focusing on work, what are some of your other interests or hobbies?

I enjoy playing piano, keyboards and composing music, exercising, writing, reading, and travel.  

Do you have a quote you live by?

I have five on my office wall that I try to live by:

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.  

It’s better to attempt something great and fail than to do nothing and succeed.

Don’t bring problems, bring solutions.

Chance favors the prepared mind.

Just do it.

 

Resourceful Records Managers

Our third Resourceful Records Manager! If you want to be included contact Jessika Drmacich at jgd1(at)williams(dot)edu!

Alex Toner, University of Pittsburgh, University Records Manager

VP_PR

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

I was serving as the archives and records manager in the Office of the University Registrar when my current position became available. It was an exciting opportunity to expand my records management interest while at the same time not straying further from my archival roots. At Pitt, the University Records Management Program is part of the University Library System, based out of the Archives Service Center. It’s been a good fit.

2. What is your educational background?

I earned my MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. Prior to that I received a Bachelor’s in history and political science from Kent State University in 2008. I’ve been tiptoeing around professional certifications like the CRA or CRM, I just haven’t yet committed.

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

There isn’t one particular person I can point to, however I would not be in the position I’m in now without the advice and support of many peers and colleagues along the way.

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

During my graduate work I thoroughly enjoyed the records management course offered within our MLIS track. I was drawn to the legal dynamic of records management, along with characteristics necessary for success such as relationship building, policy creation, project management, and direct collaboration with archives.

5. What is your role at your institution?

I am the University Records Manager, charged with managing our contractual services with the University’s storage vendor, as well as providing guidance, training, and consultations concerning records management best practices and relevant policies and regulations. I’m still able to don my archival hat from time-to-time and provide reference services, process materials, and explore the stacks!

6. What do you enjoy most about your job?

Records management has afforded me the opportunity to build relationships and partnerships across campus, which in turn as led to a wider understanding of the University and it’s mechanisms. This context is necessary for success in such a large institution. It’s these personal interactions that I find the most fulfilling.

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

Last year I successfully navigated the University’s Records Management program through the international divestment and acquisition of our off-site storage vendor’s business operation. While there were scream-out-loud difficult periods, the URM program is in a stronger place after undergoing that process. My current priorities involve initiating a strategic overhaul of URM policy and procedures to strengthen the institution, which when completed, will be a definite highlight.

As a processing archivist in a prior position I processed over 100 collections during a two-year period. Exhausting, but a highlight nevertheless.

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

Prior to moving into higher education, I worked for a regional, non-profit history museum.

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

Don’t underestimate the skill set acquired through internships, graduate work, and even certification in traditional archival preparation, which can be leveraged into records management roles quite effectively. Conversely, don’t underestimate the value of working in a records management position as opposed to a archival setting. Skills honed as a records manager can only make you a more well-rounded records professional overall. The network you build is often more important than a single position. Plus, you get to meet scores of great people and explore offices and buildings otherwise inaccessible!

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

I’m a member of SAA and MARAC. Similarly to professional certifications, I’ve been contemplating joining ARMA and attending their national conference, but it’s just so darn expensive! However, I have engaged with Pittsburgh’s ARMA chapter.

11. Thoughts on the future of records management?

At our core, records manager and archivists are information managers, or information curators. Some of that information may be primary, direct, and historically important and significant. Some of it may be actively used and functionally vital at present, only to be destroyed in several years. Regardless, information is ubiquitous in nearly all facets of professional and personal life. As records professionals we need to continue to leverage our experience and expertise as stakeholders in information management, beyond the confines of traditional roles. Records, and the information they contain, are everywhere, connecting everything. As records professional, we must advocate that we play a important role in managing information now and for the future, and remain connected ourselves as record management roles evolve.

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

One of the biggest challenges that I encounter is one of perception. To me, there is a intangible difference between corporate-orientated records management positions, and those in higher education or non-profits. In order to attract younger professionals, we need to adjust what could be perceived as a starchy, compliance-oriented profession to that of a role of true records and information professional. We’re managing the information that makes organizations flow, businesses run, cities function, and people succeed. The field should strive to evoke a perception of engagement, dynamism, and fun! This isn’t your father’s records management. That, and the proliferation of electronic records and email. Big challenge.

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

My wife and I just bought our first home, so I’ve been totally consumed by a kitchen renovation of late. Otherwise, I enjoying running regularly and playing guitar, checking box scores, reading non-fiction, playing 18, keeping up with my friends and family, and traveling with my wife.

14. Do you have a quote you live by?

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

Resourceful Records Managers

Her is our second post in the Resourceful Records Managers series!

If you are interested in sharing your journey as a Records Manager please contact me at jgd1(at)williams(dot)edu.

Name: 

Fred Grevin

Institution and Job Title: 

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Vice-President, Records Management.

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

I didn’t really choose Records and Information Management (RIM), I drifted into it. My academic degree is in archaeology and art history. I ended up working in micrographics, one of the leading edge technologies of the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1990s, almost by accident, I took on a new technology challenge: organisation-wide deployment and support of personal computer systems (whilst still working in micrographics). That’s when the drift to RIM began, as large-scale programs in both micrographics and computer systems accumulated vast quantities of records. I had been a member of micrographics and photographic professional societies since the late 1970s, so now I joined ARMA and, eventually, the IEEE Computer Society, and thus began the trek to RIM.

2. What is your educational background?

I have a “licence ès lettres” (the equivalent of a BA) in Classical and Gallo-Roman Archaeology and Medieval Art History from the University of Dijon (France). I began coursework for an MLS at Columbia University in the early 1980s, but moved to West Germany before i completed the degree program.

3. What is your role at your institution?

I preside over the 4 full-time staff of the RM Department, which means I try to give them what they need and then get out of their way.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

“Satisfied customers” but, really, watching my staff thrill NYCEDC with their sleuthing work. They are truly amazing!

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

Bringing together people who share common needs, in any profession.

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

Primarily government and quasi-governmental, but also academic (teaching). RIM in government is often an exercise in frustration, but can also be tremendously effective when it works. Teaching is really a two-way street: the teacher learns as much as she/he teaches.

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

RIM is always about people and institutions. And no educational, working or life experience is EVER wasted; learn to use them all.

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

ARMA, ART, IEEE Computer Society, IS&T, and SAA.

9. Thoughts on the future of records management?

Whether you call it RIM or Information Governance, it has a HUGE future (and a decently-paid one, at that). And it’s FUN!

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

Convincing Executive Management and IT that it’s about more than shuffling boxes of paper…..

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

I have an amazing (2E) son and a wonderful wife who is a freelance classical musician. All three of us love reading (HUGE book collection!). Watching interesting movies (recently: “The Queen of Katwe” and “Arrival”).

12. Do you have a quote you live by?

“Who will watch the guards?” (“quis custodiet ipsos custodes” Juvenal, Satires 6.347-48)