An introduction to archives and records management
In the words of the Archives and Records Association (ARA): ‘If you are a bit of a mystery solver, like finding answers to intriguing questions, or would like to be a custodian of something precious and historic, then a career in keeping records may be just the thing for you.’
But there’s more to it than that. Archivists must have the resources and ability to strategically identify and acquire appropriate collections. They need to be able to understand and accurately appraise the provenance and content of collections. That core research skill must be present. And they must be able to present that collection in a way that is intelligible to users while maintaining the vital elements of provenance and original order.
Major trends in the archival sector and wider society are reshaping how archivists undertake their work. The first of these factors, unsurprisingly, is digital technologies. The dual presence of digitisation and online communication requires the modern archivist to have the capacity to understand who might be their potential audience, what benefit each of those audiences could derive from the collection and what is the best channel of communication and ‘packaging’ of that collection content.
The second factor is the diversification of audiences. Educational activity targeted at pre-school through to doctoral study and lifelong-learning should be de rigueur for all services. Imaginative creative work is becoming increasingly common. Services need to reach out to new partners within and outside the parent organisation, be they social services or the marketing department.
The final factor is the professionalization of the sector. The emergence of Data Protection and Freedom of Information legislation, plus increasingly complex digital copyright issues, have already required a legal understanding not needed by previous generations. But archivists and their services will now have to demonstrate their professionalism. The move to accreditation for services and a framework of competency for individual archivists will both see a more explicit level of quality.
Here at Sue Hill Recruitment, we have placed archivists in a huge range of organisations, from universities to international charities, from Royal Societies to investment banks, museums to government agencies. If you’re looking for archive jobs, this could be a good place to start.
Records management can be defined as ‘the collective term for the procedures by which an organisation manages, controls and uses its information assets.’ Records management professionals have the skillsets to look at the capturing, storing, accessing, retention and disposal of information and records throughout their lifecycle. There will be statutory, fiscal and business requirements to consider in the organisation of records, so records managers must maintain an awareness of relevant legislation. Successful and systematic records management ensures organisations can function on a day to day basis.
Sue Hill Recruitment works with organisations to provide temporary and permanent staff to manage paper and electronic records; to devise strategy; to carry out audits; to write policies about standards for retention and storage; to devise file plans and metadata schemes; and to create procedures and training materials. We have developed extensive networks of records management professionals at all levels of seniority across the country, as well as enjoying continued good relationships with educators in the field, thus ensuring our connection to the next generation of records managers.