de la Lizzie cetire…

O prietena din Anglia m-a intrebat daca poate posta pe blog, despre archivistica, RM si altele.. Cum nu putem refuza o supusa a M.S. Lizzie secunda, iata textul mai jos. Mi se pare f. interesant.



Lucia Stefan

A Discipline in Search of an Identity

Archival practices started during the French Revolution when contemporary records were separated from the records created before the Revolution. The latter were sent to the French National Archive while the active ones were maintained in the offices of the new administration and kept secret.(Luciana Duranti). The French model had no need for records managers; the active records were managed by their creators while the inactive records were sent to the Archives and archivists were put in charge of them. This model was adopted in many countries, including Romania and remains valid in many parts of world.

The emancipation of records management as a profession was to arrive much later, some one hundred fifty years after the French Revolution, and on a different continent. In need of better organisation, it was the United States which began to take great interest in archiving with the start of the Second World War. The American National Archives (NARA) is credited with the invention of records management as a separate profession, when a “records administration” programme based on the lifecycle model was put in place in 1941 (Jay Atherton, 1986). Another four decades were needed for records management to become an academic discipline. Today, records management as a profession is challenged by the records continuum concept pioneered in Australia, which advocates a reunification of the two professions.

In both lifecycle and continuum models the spatio-temporal structures, specifically the perception of time and space, play a critical role in defining the records and their keeping (rephrase). A temporal structure can be defined as a commonly accepted model of the time dimension. All groups of people, from large societies to small communities or organisations have a shared perception of time, which structures their life and helps them in their activities. The shared temporal structure is not immutable; regularly, new time structures appear and end by being accepted, as societies and organisations evolve (Borglund and Oberg, 2008).

The notion of time and its influence on mankind has been the subject of considerable research. The religious historian Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) shows in his acclaimed “Le mythe de l’eternel retour (The Myth of Eternal Return, 1954)” how the two universally accepted time models, the circular and the linear, take the opposite values of the sacred and the profane. In records management, these two temporal structures have generated two different models, the life-cycle model where time is linear, and the records continuum model, that regards time as circular.

The lifecycle model uses the birth to death cycle which takes place along a linear time frame. All records have a unique point in time when they are created or captured into a records management system. The creation/capture moment is followed by a period of intense use, the active stage, when the record fulfils its primary role as evidence of a business transaction, administration or legal compliance. During this time the record is stored on-site at the physical office of the organisation which created it. As time goes by, the record enters the semi-active active stage, when it is used only occasionally. Because the record need not be consulted regularly, it is often stored in an off-site storage center.

Finally, the record is no longer required so a review occurs, at which point a decision is made to destroy it or to send it to its last stage, which is reserved for inactive records with long-term, indefinite, archival value. At the disposal stage, documents are either destroyed or handed over to archivists. It is estimated that only five percent of all records created end in an Archive, the rest being destroyed.

The lifecycle model creates a clear demarcation between the records management stage and the archival stage. It is the base on which the knowledge on how best to create, maintain, store and dispose is build (Sanders, 1998). In the mid seventies, the retention schedules were accepted around the world and embedded in legislation Sanders, 1998).

While the records manager leads the active and semi-active stages of the cycle, the archivist enters only in the last stage, managing preservation and access to the archival record. The archivist’s work starts where the records manager’s work ends. The division of time is also envisioned differently by the two professions. For the records manager, time has a relatively short span and is normally expressed in single-digit years. The value of records decreases rapidly with time until they no longer hold any value, legal or administrative, and can then be safely destroyed. The ultimate goal of a records manager is the disposal of all records at the end of their life.

The archivist’s time is different: extremely long and measured in hundreds if not thousands of years. The value of records increases with time, the older the records, greater is the effort and resources involved to preserve them. The ultimate goal of an archivist is the preservation of records for the longest amount of time possible.

In records management, records are valued for their ability to provide legal, financial or administrative evidence. This is known as the primary purpose of records-keeping. In archiving, records are valued for the historical, cultural, social and political understanding they bring. In other words, serving as a memory of the past is an additional role of records. While corporate records need to have authenticity to stand as evidence in the Court of Law and prevent divergent interpretations, historical records are often open to various different interpretations by historians, for cultural and political reasons.

The lifecycle model allocates different workplaces to records manager and archivists. As the records managers deal with active and semi-active records, their place is in organisations and companies, where they play an important role in the corporate governance. Archivists can rarely be found in the corporate world; in most cases they work in archives.

But as Jay Atherton and other academics noticed more then 20 years ago, a strict adherence to the lifecycle model raised some questions. Does the archivist really have no role to play in serving the creator of the records, in determining the disposal periods, or developing classification systems? Does the records manager really have no responsibility in identifying permanently valuable records or serving researchers? (Jay Atherton, 1986)

An attempt to answer these questions was made by the records continuum model developed by Frank Upward and the Australian School of recordkeeping. A records continuum is a time/space construct based on four axes: the Recordkeeping axis (the custodial history), the Evidence axis (records as evidence and trace) the Transactional axis (activities, functions) and the Identity axis (creator) and four dimensions or layers, which are not time based.

The first layer or dimension (Create) is the creator and the created, the document. The second layer, (Capture) represents the recordkeeping systems that maintain records as evidence of a transaction or action. The third layer (Organise) deals with the discipline of the records management, the principles that define the record-keeping regime while the last (Pluralise) concerns the manner in which the archives are brought into an encompassing framework in order to provide a collective social, historical and cultural memory of the institutionalised social purposes and roles of individuals and corporate bodies.

(Sue McKemish, 1997)

In short, what Australians are trying to say is that if archivists want records for archival, they have to ensure that records are appropriately created and maintained. On the other hand, records managers have also the responsibility of appraisal, namely to decide what is kept for posterity. The continuum theory encourages both professions talk to each other at critical points along the continuum. (Myburgh, 2005).

While the lifecycle model emphasises the difference between the records managers and archivists, the continuum model highlights the similarities. Both professions need to identify and structure records, maintain their qualities (authenticity, integrity, completeness and usability), arrange records to retain contextual information, deal with specific legislation and ensure their long term preservation. In the continuum model, every archivist is a records manager, and every records manager is an archivist, in other word a recordkeeper. By merging the two disciplines, the records continuum abolishes also the difference between corporate records and archive records, and ultimately between corporate repositories and historical archives.

The arrival of the Information technology changed irreversibly the way business was conducted. Before the advent of IT, the document creators were following the rules of the organisation. But when the corporate employees became IT users, they started to work in the way that suited them individually and not the organisation. Pleasing the desk-top users became a top priority of IT, with disastrous consequences. The strict records management procedures of the paper-world (registration, classification, filing, indexing, etc), were discarded without being replaced with new recordkeeping rules and procedures (Hurley, 2004).

When the chaos that followed hurt the corporate world where it mattered most, namely in the pocket, the Information Technology came to the rescue with EDMS (Electronic Document Management) and ERMS (Electronic Records Management) systems. EDMS and ERMS solutions were not able to survive as separate entities so they merged in one system known as EDRMS (Electronic Records and Document Management System) that could manage documents and records, irrespective of in format (paper and digital). Unlike the paper world where the content could not be separated from support, in the digital universe content could be extracted and circulated on other media. The document/record-centric world slowly turned into an information-centric world and the EDRMS became ECM (Enterprise Content Management) systems.

These days ECM suites consist of the following core components:

Document management for check-in/check-out, version control, security and library services for business documents;

Document imaging for capturing, transforming and managing images of paper documents.

Records management for long-term archiving, automation of retention and compliance policies, and ensuring legal, regulatory and industry compliance;

Workflow for supporting business processes, routing content, assigning work tasks and states, and creating audit trails;

Web content management for controlling the content of a Web site through the use of specific management tools based on a core repository. It includes content creation functions, such as templating, workflow and change management, and content deployment functions that deliver prepackaged or on-demand content to Web servers;

Document-centric collaboration for document sharing and supporting project teams (Gartner, September 2008).

The EDRM/ECM systems managed to put an end to the unlimited power of the corporate users and brought some order into records but they came at a price and proved to be unpopular. Now the IT looks for a more “user-friendly” alternative to the sophisticated ECMs, one of suggested solution being them being Microsoft SharePoint 2007. But MOSS 2007 follows a RM model which was abandoned many years ago, namely the separation of the document management and records management functions. The records management function is just a repository where the user dumps the documents when they no longer need them. This return to the past doesn’t make MOSS popular among records managers but the users are delighted.

With the record-centric world becoming more and more information-centric in the electronic universe, many records managers started to question again whether Records Management was a distinct discipline or a subset of another one, this time of Information Management. The management of digital records required IT knowledge so the first practitioners were information scientists, archivists, librarians or IT analysts. For Chris Hurley, records management became an Information management component from the moment standalone ERMS have been integrated into ECM systems. But the same Hurley warned about Information Technology taking over Records Management: “beware of those who use this self-evident feature of our landscape to argue that the separation of the disciplines is irrelevant, who try to persuade us that it all merges into a grey, generic sludge called “information management” or “content management or the like. “It al information, isn’t it?” they twitter chirpily. Be warned, these people don’t know much (Hurley, 2004).

Records Management in Britain

Formally recognised professional education at university degree level is critical in establishing an occupation as a profession (Webster 1999). Until recently (1999), there were no degree programs to educate specialists in records management in the United Kingdom. This reflected the low status records management had before the rise of Information Technology.

Nowadays, records management is taught at postgraduate level in four British universities: universities of Liverpool, Northumbria, Glasgow, University College London, the

University of Wales (Aberystwyth and Bangor. Other higher education institutions offer diplomas, certificates or short courses. Yet British research funding bodies don’t recognise RM as an academic discipline and as a result no research grants are allocated to records management. Most research in records management is done under the “information Management” umbrella.

The most important research centre in UK for archival and records management is The National Archives of UK, which is recognised by the Arts and Humanities Research Centre (AHRC) as an independent research organisation. TNA is currently engaged in a number of research projects particularly in the fields of preservation, information management and resource enhancement.

TNA is also involved in the development of information policies, setting standards and supporting innovation in information and records management across the UK, providing advice on opening up and encouraging the re-use of public sector information. It provides support and guidance to archivists and records managers on all matters relating to the creation, management, care, and use of records and archives and all strategic issues arising from this. (The National Archives website)

So what records managers in UK normally do? According to, the web site advising students what kind of education they need to enter a specific profession, records managers are:

  • storing, arranging, indexing and classifying records;
  • facilitating the development of filing systems, and maintaining these to meet administrative requirements;
  • devising and ensuring the implementation of retention and disposal schedules;
  • overseeing the management of electronic and/or paper-based information;
  • setting up, maintaining, reviewing, and documenting records systems;
  • identifying the most appropriate records management resources;
  • advising on and implementing new records management policies and classification systems;
  • providing a policy framework to guide staff in the management of their records and use of the system;
  • ensuring compliance with relevant legislation and regulations;
  • standardising information sources throughout an organisation or group of organisations;
  • managing the changeover from paper to electronic records management systems;
  • preserving corporate memory and heritage;
  • resolving problems with information management by effective use of software and other information resources;
  • enabling appropriate access to information;
  • responding to internal and/or external information enquiries;
  • advising on highly complex legal and regulatory issues such as the Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act and other national or regional legislation;
  • managing and monitoring budgets and resources;
  • training and supervising records staff;
  • advising staff in other departments on the management of their records and information

In Britain there are two professional bodies, mirroring the split between Records Managers and Archivists: The Records Management Society and The Society of Archivists.

The Records Management Society defines itself as: “the foremost professional association for all those who work in or are concerned with records or information management, regardless of their professional or organisational status or qualifications. Its aim is to improve the status of records management and records managers through representation, external liaison and promote professional development through sharing knowledge and expertise”.

On the other hand, The Society of Archivists is “the principal professional body for archivists and archive conservators in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The society exists to promote the care and preservation of archives and the better administration of archive repositories, to advance the training of its members and to encourage relevant research and publication”. The Society of Archivists has an interest group dedicated to Records Management.

Both societies publish guidelines and good practice manuals, being of great help for records managers and archivists. They have branches in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and many interest groups, which deal with specific areas of work (higher education, central government, local authorities, NHS etc).

So what the future has in store for the profession? For records managers in the UK, the greatest challenge is Web 2.0, the second generation of web services (blogs, mash-ups, social networking sites, wikis, folksonomies, etc). This volatile and changeable environment requires new approaches in terms of management and archival, which are yet to be defined.


Atherton, Jay, “From Life Cycle to Continuum: Some thoughts on the Records Management – Archives Relationship”, Archivaria 21 (winter 1985-1986)

Borglund, A.M. Erik and Oberg, Lena_Maria, “How records are used in organizations?”, Information Research, vol.13, no.2, June 2008

Duranti, Luciana, “ The Odyssey of Records Managers,” RMQ, July-October , 1989

Ghetu, Magia, “Two professions, one Goal”, Information Management Journal, May/June 2004

Hurley, Chris, “What, if Anything, Is Records Management?” (RMAA Conference, Canberra, September 2004)

McKemmish, Sue, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: A Continuum of Responsibility”, Proceedings of the Records Management Association of Australia 14th National Convention, 15-17 Sept 1997, RMAA Perth, 1997.

Sanders, Robert L., “Records Management returns to the departments: A suggestion for next century”, ARMA Records Management Quarterly, ARMA Records Management Quarterly, Jan 199, ARMA Records Management Quarterly, Jan 199, Jan 1998

Upward, Frank, “Structuring the Record Continuum, Part One and Two”, Archives and Manuscripts, 24 (2), 1996

Webster, Berenika M.,” Records Management: From profession to scholarly discipline”, Information Management Journal, Oct 1999

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s