Electronic Records Research 1997: Resource Materials

Compilation Copyright, Archives & Museum Informatics 1998
Article Copyright, Author

Bibliography of Background Materials and Findings
P, Q, R

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Parrott, Keith, and Greg O'Shea. Managing Electronic Records: A Shared Responsibility. (Dickson ACT, Australia: Australian Archives, March 1995). [http://www.aa.gov.au/AA_WWW/AA_Issues/ManagingER.html]
This document addresses the nature of records in an electronic environment and discusses a strategic approach to the Agency's, as well as the Archives' role in confronting these issues.

Powell, Sheila, and Ann Martin. Achieving a New Vision for Electronic Records at the National Archives of Canada. (Ottawa: National Archives of Canada, 13 June 1996). Format: Rich Text Format
This report is the fourth, and last, designed to address the NA's 1995-96 Strategic Priority B-3: To develop a program for the acquisition and preservation of electronic records. The first report, by Sheila Powell, set out non-institution specific elements of an integrated electronic records program. Powell examined the management and archival issues that face archives that preserve electronic records, as discussed in archival and information management literature. The report concluded that an archives must establish a clear mission for its archival electronic records program, be adaptable to changing organizational, technological, social, and economic conditions, assign a person or group of persons the responsibility and accountability for the operation of the program, and frequently evaluate the effectiveness of the program. It also identified common archival elements of electronic records programs: macro-appraisal according to function; active archival involvement in standards development and systems design; the need to make electronic records available to researchers; and the importance of continual development of staff knowledge and skills relating to electronic records. Finally, the report set out three possible strategies for the operation of an archival electronic records program: a strictly custodial approach, where the archives takes complete responsibility for the preservation of electronic records of archival value; a "distributed custody" approach, where preservation of electronic records is the responsibility of the creators of the records; and a combination of the custodial and distributed custody approaches, in which decisions as to the custodial future of electronic records are made in cooperation and partnership with creating agencies according to the degree of appropriateness of the custodial strategy to a particular series of electronic records, based on a range of factors, such as the agency's electronic record keeping capabilities and its organizational culture. A review of current NA operations relating to archival electronic records, including existing policies, procedures, and short-term plans, was undertaken by Ann Martin in her report, Report on the Status of the Electronic Records Program at the National Archives of Canada. This report identified current practices at the NA, as well as the absence of official policies and procedures, and other program anomalies. These were highlighted as issues which required resolution by the relevant operational areas. The list of outstanding issues identified in the report is attached as Appendix I. The combined review of current practices and unresolved issues provide a comprehensive picture of the electronic records program at the NA. Margaret Hedstrom, in her report entitled Electronic Records at the National Archives of Canada: Program Review and Strategic Directions, indicated five key strategies that could guide the program during the next five years. These strategies include: using a broader definition of "electronic records program" which includes partnerships with federal government institutions; adopting a user-centered, access-driven view of electronic records services; obtaining and building a technology infrastructure of hardware, software, telecommunications, and skills adequate to the demands of the program; developing expertise and providing national and international leadership on clearly defined archival electronic records issues; and using electronic records issues to build synergistic relationships with other elements of NA programs. This final report suggests a direction for the future of electronic records at the NA, based on the information and observations made by the three authors in their reports. [abstract taken from document Introduction.]

Powell, Sheila. Elements of an Archival Electronic Records Program [Appendix One, Appendix Two] (Ottawa: National Archives of Canada, 15 November 1995). Format: Rich Text Format
The original intention of this report, as assigned by the Director General of the Archives and Government Records Branch, was that it would set out non-institution specific elements of an integrated electronic records program. These elements would be "best practices" according to the archival literature, and together would constitute a prototype electronic records program against which the existing National Archives' electronic records program would be assessed. Once work on the report was underway, it became apparent that while there is some agreement in the literature as to how certain discrete functions should be carried out (such as preventive preservation techniques for magnetic recording media), there is no single prototype of how an integrated archival electronic records program could or should operate, no one "best" way to do any of the steps involved. First of all, it is important to define the terms archival electronic records program and preservation. For the purposes of this report, an archival electronic records program (also referred to as an electronic records program) is a system of policies, procedures, and activities, planned and carried out by an archival institution, the goal which of is the preservation of records in electronic format designated as being of archival value. Also for the purposes of this report, preservation of electronic records consists of the actions taken to keep electronic records readable and/or interpretable. Please see Appendix One for more detailed definitions of these and other terms. The majority of the literature on electronic records consulted for the preparation of this report was archival, that is, it was written by practising archivists, archival managers, or archival theorists. It also became clear very quickly that the literature rarely deals with micro-level issues such as accessioning or processing of electronic records, and therefore does not hold out any immediate solutions to these sorts of technical problems. Where technical issues are addressed in the literature, the rapid changes to the technology and the pioneering nature of much of the writing means that solutions offered, even as recently as three years ago, can now be viewed as obsolete or unworkable. The trend in the literature, especially as written by the managers of archival programs such as the New York State Archives and Records Administration, Australian Archives, and the Archives Authority of New South Wales, is to deal with macro issues, particularly the examination of the overall direction of archival electronic records programs for planning or "re-engineering" purposes, and proposals for the direction that the programs should take. The author has concluded, therefore, that instead of a single model for how an archival electronic records program can be established, there are a range of options, based on the environment in which an archives operates. This report will set out the author's understanding of the archival and management issues surrounding the operation of an electronic records program. Consequently, the report offers broad management strategies for consideration, not immediate solutions to particular issues within the National Archives. [abstract taken from document.]

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Roberts, David. Documenting the Future: Policy and Strategies for Electronic Recordkeeping in the New South Wales Public Sector. (New South Wales, Australia: Records Management Office, Archives Authority of New South Wales, July 1995). [http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/erk/dtf/tofcont.htm]
This paper is about documenting the future of New South Wales through the electronic records generated by government. The paper proposes a whole of government approach, based on national and international best practice, to keeping records in the electronic environment. [abstract taken from Executive Summary].

Roberts, David. From Policy to Practice: A Whole of Government Approach to Records Management in New South Wales. Paper for presentation at an IIR Conference "Electronic Document and Records Management for Corporate and Public Sector Environments," Sydney, 5 February 1997. Format: Rich Text Format
This paper examines the whole of Government approach to records management that is being taken in the New South Wales public sector. Central to this approach is the development of new State records legislation: the paper provides background about its purpose and the philosophy behind it, as well as an update on the process of developing it and preparing for it. Central also to their approach are records management standards, notably the Australian Standard on records management, AS 4390. This paper examines how we are using standards and related documents and products to promote best practice in records management across the New South Wales public sector. Finally, the paper examines the national nature of many of these developments and notes whole of government approaches in a number of other Australian government jurisdictions. [abstract taken from paper.]


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