Paige, as a person who has worked in or managed combined Records
Management/Archival programs for over 30 years, I can only express my
sadness at seeing an archival position being lost!
Archival descriptive and arrangement techniques tend to focus, among
other things, on access for research, provenance, original order,
historic context, and preservation. They are not focused on issues of
efficiency, "normal course of business", current organization structure,
immediate issues of daily accountability, or application of retention
policies. My suggestion to your records management partner is to
maintain the collection and its descriptive aids "as is" and to do no
harm. Re-arranging or re-describing these records to fit into a records
management system would, in my opinion, not only be wasteful, but could
potentially undermine the painstaking work that goes into archival
processing and description.
I think the key contribution you can make is to work with your records
management partner to find ways to link your descriptive aids and
holdings to the existing basic records management physical location
system, so that the records management professional can provide
collection level access when needed. It may also be helpful for that RM
professional to recognize that the goal of archives is to preserve
historic records and make them available for research, not necessarily
to provide rapid access to individual items at the lowest possible cost.
In other words, with archival collections, its often the responsibility
of the researcher to do the detailed searching through the records on
the basis of broadly based collection finding aids to find items of
interest, not the service provider.
The emphasis is different, the goals are different, and unless one is
willing to immerse oneself in the field, my suggestion to my colleague
would be to leave well enough alone and do the minimum needed to connect
your finding aids with physical storage locations, as well as what is
necessary for long term preservation.
Note that a good portion of my career has been spent un-doing the damage
caused to historic records by people who didn't know what they were
doing. If the work has already been done - don't mess with it!
Dwight Wallis, CRM
Multnomah County Fleet, Records, Electronics, Distribution and Stores
1620 S.E. 190th Avenue
Portland, OR 97233
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