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.


For your consideration: Become an SAA Mentor

Recently, SAA put out a call for participants in its Mentoring Program, which matches new and experienced archivists to help form mentorship and advising relationships between archivists at various levels of professional experience. Jackie Dooley also talked a bit about the mentoring program in a post on Off the Record. I’ll go ahead and provide some additional links back to both sites, because I think this program is very important. As an archivist/records manager who is not that far away from being a new archivist himself, I remember quite vividly how bewildering navigating professional networks, conferences, workshops, etc. can be, and although I myself never had a formal mentorship set up by SAA, I think I would have benefited greatly from having someone to show me the ropes.

In particular, I think it’s really important for members of this roundtable to offer their services as a mentor, because we represent not just a different facet of archives work but potentially an entirely different profession. I know that when I was in graduate school, I didn’t even consider records management as a career until I just happened to take an elective on it, and my guess is that there are many archivists-in-training who are similarly unaware of why records management is important and of what kinds of opportunities it can afford them. If nothing else, being in a position to talk to mentees about the interaction between Archives and Records Management is helpful for opening discussions about records continuum, appraisal from a different perspective, and other aspects of the profession that might not occur to students and young professionals at first glance.

(Note also that the RMRT has a supplementary mentor program, which operates in conjunction with the main SAA one– we maintain a separate database, however, both to help match specifically to records managers and to allow us to create links between potential mentees and records managers who are not necessarily part of SAA. If you are interested in being added to that list, please email me directly: houstobn AT uwm DOT edu.)