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Embedding a records manager as a strategy for helping to positively influence an organization’s records management culture

Lynne Bowker (School of Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa, Canada)
César Villamizar (Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 20 March 2017




This paper aims to explore the benefits of embedding a records manager into a team of university administrators to help them address their information management needs.


The paper describes an experience that was inspired by reports of successful experiences with embedded librarianship. The literature on records management culture and embedded librarianship is reviewed to identify best practices and criteria for success. These criteria are used to design and implement a pilot project where, rather than hiring a consultant, a records manager is embedded into a quality assurance team working at a large university in Canada.


The project is a success in conventional terms (e.g. active files reduced; duplicates deleted; inactive files archived; naming conventions, version control and access rights applied); however, similar results could have been achieved using a consultant. More interesting are the added benefits achieved through embedding. Added benefits included identifying workflow inefficiencies, identifying terminological inconsistencies, iterative training opportunities and useful knowledge sharing outside the project’s scope. The argument is made that an embedded information professional is better able to appreciate the organizational culture, which in turn facilitates the establishment of trusted relationships and produces an overall added value for the entire team.


There is very little, if any, current literature that explores the value of embedding a records manager into a team, rather than simply hiring a consultant to address information management needs. The outcome of this pilot project will benefit those who are seeking to develop a model for embedding an information professional into their organization to gain an added value.



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 44th annual conference of the Canadian Association for Information Science (Calgary, 1-3 June 2016), where it was selected as the best practitioner paper and winner of the Practitioner-to-CAIS Award. The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers whose feedback helped to improve the paper.


Bowker, L. and Villamizar, C. (2017), "Embedding a records manager as a strategy for helping to positively influence an organization’s records management culture", Records Management Journal, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 57-68.



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