Connection and Convergence: Archivists and Records Managers

Margot Note

Margot Note

September 25, 2023

In the realm of information management, archivists and records managers are key players in ensuring the preservation and accessibility of records. 

Despite having different functions, they share attributes that form the foundation of their work. The quality of archives directly depends on the effectiveness of Records and Information Management (RIM) practices, emphasizing the crucial role played by records managers in laying the groundwork for archival preservation. Collaboration between archivists and records managers strengthens their roles and contributes to a comprehensive, efficient approach to managing records.

Archivists and records managers identify, maintain, describe, and arrange records. Their shared commitment to observing necessary legislation, disposal, privacy, intellectual property, and other issues underscores their dedication to preserving records with integrity and complying with legal and regulatory requirements. Working hand in hand, they ensure that records are managed effectively from their creation to their transfer to archives or eventual disposal, fostering a well-coordinated information management process.

Common Attributes

Both archivists and records managers are involved in identifying the records they need to manage. This initial step is crucial for subsequent preservation and access processes. They also share the responsibility of maintaining records’ physical and intellectual integrity. These activities involve protecting records from damage, ensuring their accuracy and completeness, and safeguarding against unauthorized access.

Another common attribute is describing and arranging records to provide access and contextual information. Proper organization and metadata are essential for efficient retrieval and understanding of records’ significance. Moreover, archivists and records managers must observe necessary privacy and intellectual property issues. Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is essential for ensuring the legitimacy of the records.

Quality and Effectiveness

The quality of archives depends on the effectiveness of RIM practices. Records managers play a crucial role in ensuring the regular elimination of records. By discarding unnecessary and obsolete records, information professionals concentrate on saving records of enduring value.

Identification of records of enduring value is another critical aspect of RIM effectiveness. Records managers must recognize which records hold long-term significance and warrant preservation. Once identified, these records are transferred to archives, where archivists ensure proper preservation and access.

Symbiotic Relationship 

Archivists and records managers share many theoretical bases and practical tasks, creating opportunities for collaboration and cooperation. Their shared understandings and experiences form the backbone of effective information management.

Archives often complete work initiated by records management. The collaboration between these professions further motivates the implementation of effective RIM practices. By recognizing the value that archivists bring to preserving records of historical and cultural importance, records managers can be more invested in maintaining the records’ integrity during their active phase.

Both parties must understand each other’s priorities and perspectives to ensure that archivists and records managers effectively collaborate. Records managers may prioritize destroying records to free up space and resources. Still, they must appreciate preserving historical records for future generations. On the other hand, archivists must recognize the significance of efficient records management in maintaining an organization’s operations. Records managers ensure that valuable records are accessible for administrative purposes.

 A Unified Path

Archivists and records managers are connected by common attributes and a shared goal of preserving and providing access to records. Their effectiveness lies in collaboration and cooperation, recognizing the strengths and contributions of each other’s profession.

Information professionals can collectively improve organizations and society by building bridges between archivists and records managers. An efficient flow of records from creation to preservation ensures that valuable historical and cultural insights are not lost while maintaining the functionality and legality of an organization’s operations. The convergence of archivists and records managers into a unified and collaborative force will undoubtedly pave the way for a brighter future in information management.

Margot Note

Margot Note

To learn more, please join us for Archivists and Records Managers: The Dynamic Duo, presented by Margot Note on Wednesday, October 18, 2023 at 11 a.m. Pacific, 2 p.m. Eastern. (Can’t make it? Register anyway and we will send you a link to the recording and slides afterwards). Register now or call 604-278-6717.

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