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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Records Management Journal, Volume 18, Issue 2.
As I write Easter is already over and British Summertime has arrived. There has been much discussion in the UK media about the timing of Easter this year sparked by its very early arrival. The last time it was so early (23 March) was 1913 and the next time it will fall on this date will be 2285. No doubt journalists have consulted records, or web sources, to establish these facts and contemporary records will show future generations that it was a particularly cold, and in places, a snowy Easter. Most unusual and can say we witnessed it, if we remember or consult the digital records, assuming they are preserved as well as the paper ones of the past.
This neatly brings me to the subject of our opinion piece. With over 25 years of experience in UK central and local government and a passion for music, Frank McCarthy, Senior Records Officer for Southampton City Council, utilizes a musical analogy to offer his views on some of the issues digital preservation presents. This is certainly the first time I have read about the three main digital preservation strategies and also learned or been reminded of such musical legends as Robert Page and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin in the same article, though it is not the first time Led Zeppelin has been referred to in the RMJ (Jupe, 2000) does this imply anything about the musical tastes of records professionals? Choosing to compare digital preservations strategies with some of the changes to the way in which people listen to recorded music over the last half century shows that records managers can be imaginative in “getting the message across”. Frank’s opinion piece should appeal for different reasons.
Joann Evans and Sue McKemmish are co-authors with Barbara Reed of an article on metadata. You will remember that Barbara provided the opinion piece for the last issue on service oriented architectures and recordkeeping, which has received very positive feedback. The article in this issue provides an overview of Monash University’s Clever Recordkeeping Metadata (CRKM) Project which explored how to automate the movement of recordkeeping metadata from one system to another, and an implementation model that takes advantage of the potential of the service oriented architectures that Barbara wrote about. Recordkeeping metadata is complex and, given the rapid change in IT, it is inevitable that at some stage metadata will need to be transferred between systems making this research highly relevant. From a research perspective it is good to see the use of action research in our field, something I believe will become more common given the nature of the research areas we need to tackle and the partners we are likely to work with, for instance information systems. It is particularly pleasing to note that Joanne received her PhD for the work she undertook as part of the project.
Sarah Demb shares the experience of using a freely available toolkit, the International Records Management Trust’s (IRMT) Records Management Assessment System (RMCAS), in a real case study context. Her article complements the independent evaluation colleagues and I conducted into a series of toolkits of which RMCAS was one (McLeod et al., 2007). Having previously worked for the IRMT, Sarah has in-depth knowledge of the tool’s design and purpose. She used RMCAS to conduct an information audit and records survey of the London Museums Hub as part of a remit to assess records management across the Hub and produce a strategic report on improvements required. It was because the tool offers a methodology for identifying problems and planning solutions that Sarah chose to use it. Evaluating the experience of using RMCAS within the public sector but outside the particular part for which it was originally designed Sarah makes a number of recommendations for its further development. I hope the article encourages those who find themselves faced with undertaking a similar audit to consider using it. Its analytical element is very powerful.
For the final article we return to Australia. Michael Nycyk was inspired to write an article on the results of his research into records management issues in the Australian construction industry having read an article about the same sector in the UK in a previous issue of the RMJ (Craig and Sommerville, 2006). This is always good to hear. Michael’s article not only provides an insight into the use of recordkeeping systems in this sector and geographic location but also reflects on his use of ethnography as the research method which is commonly used in the social sciences and not, to my knowledge, common in our discipline. His contribution is therefore a welcome addition from both a research methodology perspective as well as a practical perspective, providing analysis of a real situation, which is no doubt common worldwide.
Two books by Kelvin Smith, recently retired from The National Archives, are reviewed by Sonja Gabriel and Catherine Hare. Both Public Sector Records Management: A Practical Guide and Planning and Implementing Electronic Records Management receive positive reviews as being very accessible and useful additions to the literature. And I have reviewed Philip Bantin’s book on Understanding Data and Information Systems for Recordkeeping. It too is a welcome addition bringing together a lot of information about important systems that should be in the records professionals’ radar in one place.
If you are inspired to write about your own research or practice, offer an opinion or review a book, then please contact me. We continue to try to cover recordkeeping issues and review materials from across the globe.
Julie McLeodNorthumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Craig, N. and Sommerville, J. (2006), “Information management systems on construction projects: case reviews”, Records Management Journal, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 13148
Jupe, S. (2000), “Zen and the art of records management”, Records Management Journal, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 10914
McLeod, J., Childs, S. and Heaford, S. (2007), “Records management capacity and compliance toolkits: a critical assessment”, Records Management Journal, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 21632