Electronic Records Research 1997: Resource Materials

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

Bibliography on Electronic Records

Archives & Records Management:
Theory, Principles, and Practices

Barry, Richard E. "'Best Practices' for Establishing Good, Defendable Practices and Procedures for Digital Document Management." Unpublished (2 May 1993)
Barry outlines what are the "best practices" that need to be followed in order to maintain accurate jurisdiction and establish the trustworthiness of electronic records and record keeping systems. This is achieved through "designing good records management and archival practices into electronic systems." [2].

Bearman, David, and Margaret Hedstrom. "Reinventing Archives for Electronic Records: Alternative Service Delivery Options." Electronic Records Management Program Strategies, 82-98. ed. Margaret Hedstrom. Archives and Museum Informatics Technical Report No. 18, Pittsburgh, PA: Archives and Museum Informatics, 1993.
This is the key essay in this volume, summarizing the other essays, evaluating previous work done by the archival community, and laying out a new strategy for coping with electronic records. They argue that archivists must start by re-examining their "program structures and methodologies." [82] Bearman and Hedstrom first discuss why current approaches fail with electronic records. They then consider alternative models, which they characterize as "steering rather than rowing," "empowering others rather than serving," "enterprising," "customer-driven," and "decentralized."

Burke, Frank G. "Automation and Documentary Editing." BJHS 20 (1987): 73-79.
The paper reports on a survey on the use of computer technology by documentary editing projects.

Cook, Terry. "Electronic Records, Paper Minds: The Revolution in Information Management and Archives in the Post-Custodial and Post-Modernist Era." Archives and Manuscripts 22 (November 1994): 300-328.
Cook's thesis for this essay is that "archivists can no longer afford to be, nor be perceived to be, custodians in an electronic world." [2] He calls for archivists "to shift our professional attention from archives to archiving." [4] Archivists must begin to focus on the functional purpose behind record creation.

Cook, Terry. "It's 10 O'Clock -- Do You Know Where Your Data Are?" Technology Review 98, no. 1 (January 1995): 48-53.
This article stresses the importance of maintaining the content, structure, and context of records in an electronic environment. The author emphasizes this need to maintain these properties by examining several "worst case" scenarios; reviewing options that have been proposed, tested, and failed; and, finally, proposing further exploration into defining the functional requirements necessary for maintaining a record in an electronic environment.

Cook, Terry, and Eldon Frost. "The Electronic Records Archival Programme at the National Archives of Canada: Evolution and Critical Factors of Success." Electronic Records Management Program Strategies, 38-47. ed. Margaret Hedstrom. Archives and Museum Informatics Technical Report No. 18, Pittsburgh, PA: Archives and Museum Informatics, 1993.
Description of the shift to a "contextual, provenance-centered, evidential reorientation" from the "social science-library focus of the first generation." [39].

Cox, Richard J. "The Record in the Information Age: A Progress Report on Research." The Records & Retrieval Report 12, no. 1 (January 1996): 1-16.
(Abstract taken from Introduction).
This issue of the Records & Retrieval Report should be read in the light of the earlier contributions [by the author]. It is a refinement of [his] thinking and a report on a research project that addresses the notion of records being created and maintained in electronic information systems. The following work is related to [the author's] "The Record: Is It Evolving?" and "Archives as a Multi-faceted Term in the Information Professions." In this issue [the author has] tried to restate the importance of the record in organizations and society stressing information and to report on a research project that seeks to understand how records can be defined and managed effectively in increasingly complex information systems.

Cox, Richard J. "The Record in the Manuscript Collection." Archives and Manuscripts 24, no. 1 (May 1996): 46-62
. (Abstract Provided).
This essay, written from the North American perspective, posits a single idea about the focus by archivists on personal papers: the vast majority of personal and family papers are records with the same organic, orderly nature deriving from functions and activities as institutional records. yet this simple idea remains a major intellectual problem in the United States, and perhaps, elsewhere.

Cunningham, Adrian. "Beyond the Pale? The 'flinty' relationship between archivists who collect the private records of individuals and the rest of the archival profession." Archives and Manuscripts 24, no. 1 (May 1996): 20-26.
(Abstract Provided).
This paper addresses the questions "An Inclusive or Exclusive Profession? Have collecting archivists and their concerns been marginalised by the mainstream profession? If so, why, do we deserve it, who or what suffers or benefits as a result, should we do anything about it and, if so, what?" The author presents evidence of the marginalisation of the concerns of collecting archivists in recent archival discourse and sets this trend within the context of the development of the archival profession in Australia. He concludes by calling upon collecting archivists to participate more actively in the archival discourse.

Davidson, Jenni, and Luisa Moscato. "Towards an Electronic Records Management Program: The University of Melbourne." Archives and Manuscripts 22, no. 1 (1994): 124-135.
(Abstract provided).
Progressive devolution of organizational responsibilities at the University of Melbourne, combined with a distributed computing environment, has resulted in a number of information technology and electronic records issues that are explored in this article. Records Services staff at the University have adopted a number of strategies to position themselves to take responsibility for the establishment of an electronic records management program and are now proceeding towards the development of electronic records management policy guidelines and standards for the University as a whole. "Electronic Forms Management: Part I." The Records & Retrieval Report 10, no. 1 (January 1994): 1-16.
As the author immediately points out, "forms management offers the rare opportunity to control -- rather than react to -- the creation of records." [1] Unfortunately, many in the field of records management are still reacting to advancing technologies and are, therefore, in danger of becoming merely custodians of paper. In an attempt to avoid this role, the author begins by briefly examining the role of forms in organizations and how technology is transforming this role. This is followed by discussions of how organizations can begin to employ emerging forms technology and what future considerations exist. Finally, the future role of records managers will need to assume in electronic forms management is presented.

Greenstein, Daniel. "Electronic Information Resources and Historians: A Consumer's View." Electronic Information Resources and Historians: European Perspectives, Eds. Seamus Ross, and Edward Higgs, 150-160. The British Academy, London, 25 June 1926. St Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, 1993.
(Abstract provided).
For the historian machine-readable information must be readily usable with a minimum of re-editing. Consequently, process-independent encoding standards are absolutely essential. So is software that can read and write standard-conformant data. Do historians have anything to offer the software developers? Certainly there is little doubt that the technologies which can manage the ambiguous and variously interpreted data of history are likely to be highly transferable ones. Standardsation needs to take place at another level as well; this time amongst, computer-using historians who are willing to attempt collective decisions about what information should be encoded in a machine-readable document and about how encoding decisions should be recorded for posterity and secondary analyses. Finally, we need to ensure that the creators of machine-readable data upon whom we will increasingly rely adopt standard practices. Cross-fertilization with publishers, government printing offices, and the computer industry is essential but likely to be ineffective until the historical profession gets its own house in order and begins to include its computer-literate members fully into the fold. At present, the acquisition, development, and dissemination of computer methods and the creation of useful machine-readable data are not given anywhere the same credit or standing as traditional forms of research and publication despite the fact that the latter have no greater claim on scholarship and far less a claim on relevance. As ever, historians have much to offer the modern technical society in which they find themselves and still more to do in order to catch up with it.

Hammond, Geoff. "Town Halls: a Gateway to Democracy? Public Records in a Changing World." Electronic Information Resources and Historians: European Perspectives, Eds. Seamus Ross, and Edward Higgs, 49-56. The British Academy, London, 25 June 1926. St Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, 1993.
(Abstract provided).
Within a constantly changing political, social, legal, and geographical context we are creating more records in a fluid electronic environment. Local authorities are changing from being direct providers of services to enablers. Increasingly our role is as a gateway to information. In this developing environment, can we maintain public access and secure the privacy of the individual? Can we create an environment where the individual -- who is also the all-powerful consumer -- and organizations and businesses can talk and trade? What is our role? What is all this fluid information for? And how will we use it to the benefit of the community?

Hedstrom, Margaret. "Electronic Records Program Strategies: An Assessment." Electronic Records Management Program Strategies, 1-9. ed. Margaret Hedstrom. Archives and Museum Informatics Technical Report No. 18, Pittsburgh, PA: Archives and Museum Informatics, 1993.
Summary of an April 1993 meeting of the Society of American Archivists' Committee on Automated Records and Techniques and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators' Committee on Information Technology. Hedstrom describes a wide variety of approaches being used to cope with electronic records, barriers to success in managing such records (both internal and external factors), and opportunities for success.

Hurley, Chris. "Beating the French." Archives & Manuscripts 24, no. 1 (May 1996): 12-18.
(Abstract Provided).
This paper addresses the questions "An Inclusive or Exclusive Profession? Have collecting archivists and their concerns been marginalised by the mainstream profession? If so, why, do we deserve it, who or what suffers or benefits as a result, should we do anything about it and, if so, what?" The author calls for a return by archivists to the fundamental archival mission of keeping records ("beating the French"). He concludes by proposing a parallel Pittsburgh Project to identify and articulate the functional requirements for socio-historical evidence.

McKemmish, Sue. "Evidence of Me..." Archives and Manuscripts 24, no. 1 (May 1996): 28-45.
(Abstract Provided).
The Pittsburgh Project researchers focused on defining the functional requirements for record keeping in a corporate context, and developing means to satisfy them through a blend of policy, systems design and implementation strategies that would enable compliance with emerging standards for 'business acceptable communications' (records). Part of their brief, particularly associated with the research of Wendy Duff has been to discover the 'literary warrant' for the functional requirements -- specifically to determine whether the credibility of particular functional requirements can be established by reference to authoritative sources such as the law and the standards and the best practices of related professionals, e.g. lawyers, auditors, and information technologists, as codified in their literature. This article explores the nature of personal record keeping and broad social mandates for its role in witnessing to individual lives, and constituting part of society's collective memory and cultural identity. It posits that social mandates for personal record keeping may be found in sociology and in creative and reflective writing, and provides some examples of how the 'urge to witness', the 'instinct to account for ourselves', the need to leave behind 'the comforting marker-buoys and trail-signs of stories', are represented there. It also considers a range of personal record keeping behaviors and the role archivists play in carrying a personal archive beyond the boundaries of an individual life into the collective archives -- how evidence of me becomes evidence of us.

McKemmish, Sue. "Understanding Electronic Record keeping Systems: Understanding Ourselves." Archives and Manuscripts 22, no. 1 (May 1994): 150-162.
(Abstract provided).
This review article reflects on the Winter Workshop, "Understanding Electronic Information Systems," presented by David Bearman of Archives and Museum Informatics at Monash University, 21 June to 2 July 1993. It was offered as an elective subject within the MA (Archives and Records) course at Monash University and as a continuing education program, aimed at the top-end of the market. As the first such program ever undertaken by the Graduate Department of Librarianship, Archives and Records at Monash or indeed in Australia in our field, it was experimental and exploratory in nature. As a learning experience, it challenged our understanding of who we are and what we do. Although originally entitled "Understanding Electronic Information Systems," the Workshop went far beyond information systems analysis and design concerns to address the critical issues of how to transform information systems into record keeping systems, and to re-invent the profession along the way.

Morris, R. J. "Electronic Documents and the History of the Late 20th Century Black Holes or Warehouses -- What Do Historians Really Want?" Electronic Information Resources and Historians: European Perspectives, Eds. Seamus Ross, and Edward Higgs, 302-316. The British Academy, London, 25 June 1926. St Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, 1993.
(Abstract provided).
An increasing number of archivists and a few historians are coming to believe that a major change has taken place in the manner in which human society creates the evidence which will be used by the historians who, in the future, come to write about the late twentieth century. The changes brought about by electronically based information technology are so fundamental that, for the historian at least, they must be equated with the invention and spread of printing or perhaps even the initial development of the written record. Each of us have different ways of trying to express this changes. Last week (June 1993) I brought home a letter from my daughter. It had been sent by e-mail, transferred to a 3.5" floppy disk and as a source of information was useless without specific software and hardware. The medium was no longer the message. Access needed a technologically sophisticated method of intervention. It was no longer enough just to know how to read.

National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA). A New Age: Electronic Information Systems, State Governments, and the Preservation of the Archival Record, NASIRE/The Council of State Governments, Lexington, KY, 1991.
This document is a result of the 1990 NAGARA Institute on Advanced Archival Administration held at the University of Pittsburgh School of Library and Information Science. It was produced with the intent of bringing electronic record keeping issues to the attention of policy makers. In summary, it calls for state governments to strengthen: 1) their overall management of information resources and 2) these resources' abilities to capture and preserve electronic records for long-term access. The pamphlet also contains a "Checklist of Considerations for the Preservation of Archival Records in Electronic Formats."

Newton, S. C. "The Nature and Problems of Computer-generated Records." Computer Generated Records: Proceedings of a Seminar, ed. Michael Cook, 1-4. University of Liverpool, 26 September 1986. England: Society of Archivists, 1987.
Outlines some of the issues facing archivists and records managers in the control and management of electronic records including: the disintegration, vulnerability, and loss of integrity of records; the lack of record creation; and deciding what constitutes the record in the legal sense. He introduces some of the major themes of the conference stating that "the problem is that records, as we know, have a dual function - they are significant both in regard to content and to context. The first function may be easier to cope with.. than the second which seems to demand application-specific software, meeting records management control requirement."

Nichols, George. "Evidence in the Machine." Unpublished Paper (29 October 1993)
Nichols urges archivists and records managers to return to basics when considering electronic records. he identifies several stages of automated record keeping. In the first stage the computer took over "intellectual control mechanisms used to manage the records, such as indexing, file titles, and file locations, while the records remained paper-based." A later stage has allowed the paper records to be digitized through such methods as scanning onto optical disks. "In this situation both the records and their associated intellectual and physical control mechanisms are on the machine, i.e., all evidence in now in the machine." Now we are at the stage where "records are created directly on the machine and not just converted from paper into the machine." This has lessened the utility of printing out electronic records onto paper as a preservation mechanism. Now the basic principles have changed, leaving the control of the documents completely in the hands of the creator rather than the centralized registry system. "We now have private libraries of floppy disks as the repository of corporate information. You can walk out the door with your workgroup's corporate memory in your pocket." Electronic documents are placed on servers without being formally appraised and when disk space becomes short these documents are "dumped to off-line media with little thought to future retrieval." Looking from the perspective of the Australian Archives' experience, Nichols notes that the major problem is the lack of an effort to ensure long-term preservation. Such preservation requires four elements: appraisal, monitoring and managing over time, complying with disposal authorities, and providing access over time.

Parer, Dagmar. "Government Electronic Records: An Australian Archives Perspective." Australian Library Journal 42 (May 1993): 142-149.
General review of the Australian Archives' efforts to manage electronic records, detailing differences in approaches between archivists and librarians. Parer provides a description of the challenges of electronic records because they are technology dependent, easily erased or manipulated, unstable, and subject to obsolescence. The remainder of the essay describes policies that have been developed to deal with these and other problems.

Parer, Dagmar. "An Overview of Electronic Records Management." Managing Electronic Records: Papers from a Workshop on Managing Electronic Records of Archival Value, eds. Dagmar Parer, and Ron Terry, 1-13. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 30 October 1992. Canberra, Australia: Australian Council of Archives Inc. and Australian Society of Archivists Inc., April 1993.
General review of the characteristics of electronic records, issues presented to archivists by this technology, and progress made by archivists in working with this technology.

Reed, Barbara. "Electronic Records Management in Transition." Archives and Manuscripts 22, no. 1 (May 1994): 164-171.
(Abstract provided).
This article reviews Archives and Museum Informatics Technical Report, No. 18 1993, Electronic Records Management Program Strategies, edited by Margaret Hedstrom, using it as a basis to make a number of observations about the Australian archival community's response to the management of electronic records. It identifies some areas for development by the archival and records management professions, in particular by building on the foundation of the Australian tradition of an holistic approach to record keeping, and offers some thoughts for advancing the electronic record keeping agenda.

Roberts, David. "Defining Electronic Records, Documents and Data." Archives and Manuscripts 22, no. 1 (May 1994): 14-26.
(Abstract provided).
Basic concepts have a profound effect on the approaches taken by archivists and records managers to their work. They are particularly important for the Records Management Office because our work depends on communicating with our clients. We have adopted a concept of records based on their role as evidence of business transactions, which is essential to support accountability in the New South Wales public sector and which leads to a particular set of approaches to electronic records management. We distinguish electronic documents from electronic records by the latter's transactional origins and evidential qualities and explore the appropriate use of electronic document management tools within this conceptual framework as part of broader electronic records management strategies. We distinguish data management and data administration from the management of electronic records and electronic documents and recognize their role in electronic records management strategies.

Ross, Seamus. "Historians, Machine-Readable Information, and the Past's Future." Electronic Information Resources and Historians: European Perspectives, Eds. Seamus Ross, and Edward Higgs, 1-20. The British Academy, London, 25 June 1926. St Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae Verlag, 1993.
(Abstract taken from Introduction).
Awareness among historians of the changing character of contemporary information resources is limited. Increasingly everyday transactions are recorded and handled electronically. The increased use of computers has led to a dramatic rise in the production of paper records. Laser printers and digital printing technology make more flexible output of paper documents possible, and are fostering an industry of 'on-demand' and specialized document productions and printing. This paper trail can be attributed to the demands made on electronically stored information by local and national governments, companies, charities, service providers (e.g. medical staff), and individuals. It reflects their need to satisfy customers, meet regulatory obligations, market services, and make the most advantageous decisions. In government 'information is still translated into a paper formate in order for a decision to be made and the action arising from the decision to be implemented' (Hammond 1993: 52). In business paper plays a crucial role in the provision and distribution of strategic management or executive information (Campbell-Kelly 1993; Cashmore 1991). In the case of operation information, however, this is no longer necessarily nor universally true.

State Archives of Western Australia. Electronic Records: An Investigation into Retention, Storage, and Transfer Options, Library and Information Service of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 1993.
This report provides a now familiar set of recommendations for such actions as: conducting a survey of the use of information technology, appraising records at the systems design stage, conducting research into electronic records issues, and supporting the use of GOSIP and OSI standards.

United States General Accounting Office. Federal Records: Document Removal by Agency Heads Needs Independent Oversight, United States General Accounting Office, Washington, DC, August 1991.
This report discusses the issue of whether departing agency heads and/or senior agency officials should be allowed to remove federal records when they leave office. Current internal controls have not responded adequately to date. As a result, this report recommends that amendments be made to the Federal Records Act of 1950 to ensure that any federal records, allegedly belonging to an official leaving office, are reviewed by an independent source (in particular NARA) prior to removal.

Upward, Frank, and Sue McKemmish. "Somewhere Beyond Custody." Archives and Manuscripts 22, no. 1 (May 1994): 136-149.
(Abstract provided).
This article aims to place a bookmark in the archival testament. It explores the shifts that are occurring in archival ways of thinking and practicing as we move beyond custody. The context is the emergence of new paradigms as the networked society displaces the information age. The evidence is drawn from recent Australian literature which forms part of the evolving international discourse on electronic records management and from records management and archival action at the coalface, insofar as that is reflected in the literature.

Wallace, David A. "Archivists, Record keeping, and the Declassification of Records: What We Can Learn from Contemporary Histories." Unpublished Paper (September 1993)
For his paper, Wallace has selected three works to examine: Christopher Simpson's The Splendid Blond Beast: Money, Law, and Genocide in the Twentieth Century; Alexander Charns' Cloak and Gavel: FBI Wiretaps, Bugs, Informers, and the Supreme Court; and Eric Wakin's Anthropology Goes to War: Professional Ethics & Counterinsurgency in Thailand. His emphasis on these works is directed toward "the importance of this genre of literature for the archivist and on the need for the discipline to be both aware of these types of works and to digest the knowledge they contain regarding user access, records, and record keeping systems." [1].

Last Modified: 8/14/96 [kjb]

Bibliography on Electronic Records

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