Provenance the Web Magazine - ISSN 1203-8954 - Vol.2 No.3 Winter 1997
Records Management: An Introductory Course


Course Outline & Instructor's Guide
Developed by Guy Robertson, Langara College for the Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Skills, Training and Labour and the Centre for Curriculum and Professional Development 1996
Copyright 1996, Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Skills, Training and Labour
Langara Library Tech. course at Camosun College
Acknowledgements
I should like to thank Ann Calla, Chair, Library Technician Program at Langara College in Vancouver for kind support and assistance. I must also note the encouragement and support of my records management students on Vancouver Island who evaluated the contents of my course and gave me much good advice.
Contents

Part One: Course Outline

Calendar Description

Library 295: An Introduction to Records Management
A practical, operations-based examination of records management policies and procedures. Topics include the development of inventories, retention schedules, and indexes; automated systems; conversion strategies; storage and conservation; recycling; security and confidentiality; archives and other historical materials; and the management of a records centre. Enrollment is limited to 20 students.

Course Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to perform the following tasks:
  • Identify the functions of records in specific institutional cultures
  • Develop basic inventories, retention schedules and indexes
  • Identify vital records for primary business operations
  • Formulate general records management policies for different institutions
  • Organize programs for records security, destruction, and recycling
  • Develop basic archival policies and strategies
  • Identify opportunities for cost-efficiencies in the creation and use of records
  • Develop plans for records back-up and recovery
  • Develop strategies for off-site storage and other forms of out-sourcing
  • Develop strategies for the conversion of records in one medium (e.g. paper) to another (e.g. microform, optical disk)
  • Manage a small records centre
  • Participate in the operation of a larger records centre

Session Topics [14 weeks/ 4 hours per week]

  1. Records management: history, definition,scope, and role in different institutions and cultures
  2. Needs analyses: finding out how institutions "think"
  3. Policies and procedures: building an "informational nervous system" for different institutions
  4. Records inventories, retention schedules, and indexes: practical controls for modern records in all media
  5. Filing methods for active, semi-active, and inactive records systems
  6. Automated records systems: electronic forms, computer assisted retrieval, and optical disk
  7. Purchasing procedures for records managers: getting the most from vendors, consultants, and contracts
  8. Records conversion for cost-effectiveness: transferring data for improved performance and lower costs
  9. Records storage on and off-site: short and long-term storage; paper security and transfer; conservation through controlled storage
  10. Archives: the uses of institutional history; the marketing connection; archives and the Internet
  11. General security and destruction: to shred or not to shred; recycling programs
  12. Vital records and disaster planning: preparing for the worst; confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA) of records
  13. Management of a small records centre: satisfying the need for service in a small business, non-profit organization, or government department; project management
  14. Working toward a digital future: building systems for current use and future adaptation; networks and the enhanced records management system; the "paperless office"; the rise of the information specialist and new roles for records managers

Methodology

  • Lectures: approximately 50%
  • Group interaction/ team work on practical exercises and case studies: approximately 30%
  • Field trips and tours: approximately 20%
Group interaction will involve small groups of ideally no more than four students. Case studies will include descriptions of actual cases in local institutions. Each case study should comprise the following aspects:
  • Institution-wide implications
  • Cost and budgeting implications
  • Storage and retrieval implications
  • Security and confidentiality implications
Prospective employer/vendor participation
From printing firms, publishers, corporations (including Crown), equipment vendors, software development companies, and consultants, one can expect the following contributions:
  • Participation as course attendees
  • Guest lectures/presentations
  • Samples of products/product demonstrations
  • Tours/ field trip opportunities
  • Career guidance
  • Future practicum opportunities
  • Employment opportunities
Assignments
  • three brief field assignments (3-4 page questionnaires) relating to the records management practices of different local institutions.
  • two brief reports (4-5 page memos) regarding specific issues in the local records management scene, e.g. the market demand for certain products and services, the use of certain kinds of technology in local institutions, or local trends in records conversion, etc.
Assessment and evaluation are based on the student's understanding of the topics and their ramifications; clarity of expression; and practicality of any recommendations.
Potential follow-up training/ continuing education
  • Advanced forms design, control and management
  • Reprographics management and control
  • Telecommunications and data transfer for records managers
  • Freedom of Information (FOI) and the protection of privacy
  • LAN and WAN options for records managers
  • Implications of the WWW for records managers
  • Getting a job as an Information Specialist: new opportunities for records managers
Suggested Reading
Students will be encouraged to rely on the notes that they make during lectures, presentations and discussions, but the instructor should feel free to recommend the following works :
  • Ascsher, Katherine, editor. Managing your office records and files. International Self-Counsel Press Ltd. Vancouver, 1984. (NB Glossary)
  • Couture, Carol and Rousseau, Jean-Yves. The life of a document: a global approach to archives and records management. Vehicule Press. Montreal, 1987. (NB Glossary of Technical Terms)
  • Delgado, Alan. The enormous file: a social history of the office. John Murray. London, 1979. (NB Concentration on early record-creating technology)
  • Gelb, I.J. A study of writing. Revised edition. The University of Chicago Press. Chicago, 1963.
  • Schwartz, Candy, and Hernon, Peter. Records management and the library: issues and practices. Ablex Publishing Corporation. Norwood, New Jersey,1993. (NB First two chapters on "Records Management: An Overview" and "Historical Background")
The instructor may give a brief book talk on these works and identify their most useful and interesting sections. The instructor should also indicate any part of a work that is out-of-date or in need of revision.
Supplies
Materials for taking notes. Visually-impaired and hearing-impaired students should feel free to tape all lessons.
Students' Evaluation of the Course
Continuing Education instructors may ask students to fill out a brief questionnaire regarding:
  • The most and least interesting aspects of the course;
  • The most and least useful aspects of the course;
  • The effectiveness of the instructor's presentations, lectures, and classroom management;
  • The students' interest in pursuing further studies in records management;
  • The students' interest in taking additional records management courses;
  • The students' recommendations for the improvement of any aspect of the course.

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Part Two: Course Curriculum

Session 1./ Records management: history, definition, scope and role in various institutions and cultures

Topics Covered:
  • The definition of records management
  • The development of writing and alphabets
  • The history of records in ancient cultures: Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Greece and Rome
  • Medieval records and manuscripts: the influence of the Church and the State
  • The invention of printing; printed books and records
  • Early modern records and the Industrial Revolution: the mass production of forms
  • Modern bureaucracy and records control
  • A multiplicity of media: paper, microform, electronic
  • Controlling the Information Explosion: the role of the records manager, the records supervisor, and records clerk
Key terms:
record, writing, alphabet, manuscript, document, papyrus, paper, clay tablet, cuneiform, hieroglyphics, ideogram, seal, moveable type, form, bureaucracy, hierarchy, records control, microform, micrographics, compact disk, digital media, records manager, records supervisor, records clerk.
Suggested Readings
  • Alan Delgado, The enormous file.
  • I.J. Gelb, A study of writing.

Sample Classroom Exercises
Break up the class into small groups of no more than four students per group. Ask each group to describe the role and basic tasks of a clerk at the beginning of the nineteenth century, at the beginning of the twentieth century, and at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Encourage the students to use their imaginations. At the end of the break-out period (approximately 25 minutes), one member of each group will report back on:
  • The kinds of records that clerks control in different periods
  • The kinds of record-creating tools that clerks must use in different periods
  • The more challenging aspects of clerks' jobs in different periods
Guest Lecture Opportunity
Guest lectures are not recommended during Session One, which is an opportunity for the students to become acquainted with their instructor.
Field Trip Opportunity
Field trips are not recommended during Session One, which is an opportunity for the students to become acquainted with their instructor.

Session 2./ Needs analyses: Finding out how institutions think

Topics Covered:
  • Kinds of institutions: large and medium-sized corporations, small businesses, government agencies, law offices, hospitals and medical clinics, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, banking and finance institutions, manufacturing plants, hospitality and food service companies.
  • Information flow and information float
  • The information audit: basic inventories
  • Centralized and decentralized records systems
  • The role of computerized information systems (IS) in the modern organization
  • Forms design and creation: art direction and print production
  • Interviewing for needs analyses
  • Needs analysis variables for records managers
  • Compilation of needs analysis surveys
Key Terms:
corporation, agency, ministry, branch, non-profit, public sector, private sector, legislation, regulation, guidelines, information flow, information float, information audit, centralized and decentralized records system, paper system, computerized information system (IS), forms design, art direction, needs analysis
Suggested Reading
  • Carol Couture and Jean-Yves Rousseau, The life of a document.
  • Candy Schwartz and Peter Hernon, Records management and the library.
Sample Classroom Exercises
Break up the class into small groups of no more than four students per group. Ask each group to select a well-known local institution and to write a list of the kinds of records it needs to function as an institution. Groups may choose to write a list of any kind of institution that has been discussed during the lecture. Encourage the students to use their imaginations.

At the end of the break-out period (approximately 20 minutes), one member of each group will report back on the contents of the list. Each group spokesperson should be prepared to justify why any kind of record listed is necessary to its institutional creator.
Guest Lecture Opportunity
Invite the records manager from a local institution to give a brief presentation on the records that he or she manages. Ask the guest for a 20-minute presentation and a 40-minute question and discussion period. Make sure that the guest should be comfortable in discussing and answering questions about his or her institution's records. Assure the guest that he or she may refuse to discuss any confidential matters. Ask him or her to bring sample forms for students to examine.
Field Trip Opportunity
A visit to a nearby institutional records centre is appropriate.

Session 3./ Policies and procedures: building an 'informational nervous system' for various organizations

Topics Covered
  • Institutional structure and the record group
  • Policy as internal law: the role of the Board and senior management in records policy formulation and approval
  • The mission statement, goals and objectives: the impact on records management
  • The records manual: clarity and concision in action
  • Active, semi-active and inactive records
  • Flexibility in policy and procedures
Key Terms
policy, procedure, manual, Board, senior management, active records, semi-active records, inactive records, mission statement, goals, objectives
Selected Reading
  • Carol Couture and Jean-Yves Rousseau, The life of a document.
  • Candy Schwartz and Peter Hernon, Records management and the library
  • 3M Corporation. Records manual. [Manuals from other local institutions are also acceptable]
Sample Classroom Exercises
Break up the class into small groups of no more than four persons per group. Ask each group to write a contents page for the records manual of a large local institution. Encourage the students to use their imaginations.

At the end of the break-out period (approximately 20 minutes) the spokesperson of each group will report back on the group's contents page.
Guest Lecture Opportunity
Invite the records manager from a local institution to give a brief presentation on one or more of the following topics:
  • Compiling the institution's records manual: contents and cost factors
  • Updating the institution's records manual
  • The impact of new technologies on the compilation and updating of the institution's records manual
The presentation should be no more than 40 minutes, followed by a 20-minute question and discussion period.
Field Trip Opportunity
A visit to a local institution is appropriate, especially if the tour is led by a senior manager who is prepared to comment on the institution's management structure and the senior management's attitude toward records management policy and procedures.

Session 4./ Records inventories, retention schedules, and indexes: practical tools for modern records in a variety of media

Topics Covered
  • Compilation of the records inventory
  • Compilation of the retention schedule: business and legal issues
  • Compilation of indexes developed from inventories and retention schedules
  • Authority control for records managers
  • Senior management sign-off
Key Terms
records inventory, retention schedule, index, authority control, sign-off.
Suggested Reading
  • Carol Couture and Jean-Yves Rousseau, The life of a document.
  • Candy Schwartz and Peter Hernon, Records management and the library.
  • Sample inventories, retention schedules, and indexes.
Sample Classroom Exercises
This session is necessarily content heavy, and break-out groups are inadvisable. Instead, there can be two or three question formulation periods, during which individual students can write down two or three questions that they have concerning topics covered in this session. Discussion could centre on a specific student's questions.
Or
the instructor could ask a student to attempt to answer another student's question(s), or the instructor and class could collate and compare the questions to discover similarities and general concerns. a significant number of similar questions from different students will indicate areas where clarification is necessary.
Guest Lecture Opportunity
Not advisable during this session owing to time limitations.
Field Trip Opportunity
Not advisable during this session owing to time limitations.

Session 5./ Filing classification systems for active, semi-active and inactive records systems

Topics Covered
  • Files management and filing systems
  • Alphabetic filing classification systems
  • Numeric filing classification systems
  • Alphanumeric filing classification systems
Key Terms
accession book, alphabetic filing system, alphanumeric filing system, ascending order, compound name, decimal filing system, dictionary system, direct access system, geographic filing system, given name, indexing unit, subject filing system, surname, terminal digit filing system.
Suggested Reading
  • Carol couture and Jean-Yves Rousseau, The life of a document.
  • Candy Schwartz and Peter Hernon, Records management and the library.
Suggested Classroom Exercises
Because this session is content-heavy, no classroom exercises are advisable. However, the instructor may lead the class through various case histories of filing classification systems in different institutions, and encourage classroom discussion regarding the suitability of systems in specific applications.
Guest Lecture Opportunity
Not advisable during this session owing to time limitations.
Field Trip Opportunity
Not advisable during this session owing to time limitations.

Guy Robertson



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