Request for Advice and Resources
I am a career archivist taking a formal course on the fundamentals of Records Management in order to update the lessons taught in my RM class at UBC’s SLAIS back in the 1990s. (Further shout-out to the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies) To help the process along, I am writing to ask if you would answer two questions for me:
1) What is the best piece of advice you were ever given about managing records?
2) Of all the available resources re. the basics of Records Management, which one do you most frequently consult? (I.e. what is your personal “Records Management Bible”?)
Thanks in advance for your replies,
Simcoe County Archives
This is lessons learned on my part, not advice I was given. However, it is the advice I give now to those new to the profession. Not everyone may agree with my advice, but here it is.
My job used to be to write retention schedules. I did that in consultation with those that used/managed the records, not in a vacuum. I felt I was accomplishing what needed to be done in partnership with the right people. When the schedule was approved, I would offer guidance to those using it. This was important work. I came to learn later, though, that it was all theoretical records management.
Eventually I switched jobs and I implemented retention schedules for a utility employing ~1000 people. That was a WORLD of difference. This was boots on the ground, make it work, practical records management. I learned there is no perfection in managing records. Records are messy. Not every record or record group fits into a nice neat series. Good enough or pretty close feel like a success. This is true even for schedules you write or help write. You will occasionally have to improvise a little, bend a little, but still maintain your legal defensiblity.
The fact that records management is being recognized and you are being consulted at all is even bigger. Get your message out there: records management matters and lay out the reasons why. Don't get just high level buy-in. Get their tangible support in the form of: spreading the word themselves, ensuring projects under their purview have considered RM, mentioning your name and how you can be helpful in XYZ situations.
I hope you find some of that helpful. Enjoy your journey!