Determining current practices for college and university e records management programs
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Determining Current Practices for College and University E-Records Management Programs. Marcia Peri Archivist University of Maryland—Baltimore County. Lisl Zach School of Library and Information Science Louisiana State University. The research project.

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Determining Current Practices for College and University E-Records Management Programs

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Determining Current Practices for College and University E-Records Management Programs

Marcia Peri


University of Maryland—Baltimore County

Lisl Zach

School of Library and Information Science

Louisiana State University

The research project

  • Goal was to provide a snapshot of where colleges and universities stand in the development of programs to capture, store, and make available institutional e-records

The questions

  • What patterns, if any, exist in current practices among college and university archives and records management programs regarding their approaches to capturing, storing, managing, and making available institutional e-records

  • What categories of ‘best practices’ would be most useful to archivists in developing policies for maintaining and sharing permanently valuable content and leveraging university resources for data storage, management, and delivery

  • What case studies can be identified to provide practitioners with practical guidance in developing their own e-records management programs

The approach

  • Study was divided into two distinct phases—a survey phase and an interview phase

  • Survey phase consisted of a 22-question on-line questionnaire administered through to a sample pool of 638 names drawn from the membership of the College & University Archives section of SAA

  • Follow-up in-person and phone interviews using a pre-tested Interview Protocol were conducted with 15 practitioners selected from the survey respondents

  • Data were analyzed to identify patterns, trends, and key concepts

Survey results

  • 418 institutions represented in the sample pool

  • 193 institutions responded

  • Of those responding, only 15 (less than 8%) indicated that their institutions have a formal e-records management program in place at this time

  • Another 81 are planning a program

Current e-records initiatives

Interview results

  • Even at the best-funded and most prestigious institutions, there are no existing comprehensive programs to use as models for the field

  • In those institutions that have some e-records management initiatives underway, those initiatives deal only with specific areas, e.g., administrative records, e-mail, institutional publications, etc. rather than providing an overall approach

What does this mean?

“The library school can say all it wants about digital archiving, but the administration isn’t listening, and it isn’t giving us anything.”

archivist at a major state university

Conclusion #1

Support at the institutional level, e.g. provost, president, board of trustees, is essential for an effective overall e-records management program; even piece-meal development requires some high level support to make any real progress.

“We looked at the problem and decided that until the Provost or the head of OIT put some level of effort in, or some off-the-shelf software solution came along, it wasn’t going to happen.”

archivist at large private institution

Conclusion #2

Cooperation from the Office of Information Technology (or equivalent function) is essential; respondents indicated that one significant roadblock to managing digital assets is a lack of communication between archivists/records managers and “those computing folks”—involving the CIO in e-records management program development is key to success.

“The [enterprise-wide document system] planning committee was the most important thing [that has happened] because it includes the archivist, the VP for Financial Affairs, and IT.”

archivist at small private institution

Conclusion #3

Successful archivists/records managers have made strategic alliances with key players outside of the library and have communicated the potential risks/rewards associated with e-records management programs.

Implications for the field

  • Need to build relationships/teams with others in the college/university setting

  • Need to establish common values

  • Need to reduce barriers to communication between departments

  • Need to develop environment of information sharing and collaboration

Questions? Comments?

Please contact:

Lisl Zach

Marcia Peri

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