Effective Approaches for Managing Electronic Records and Archives

© The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 2002




List of Acronyms                                                                                                                                                                

                                 See Book Review by Matthew B. Veatch

                      Kansas State Historical Society



Technology and the Transformation of the Workplace: Lessons Learned Traveling Down the Garden Path

Richard E. Barry


What Is an Electronic Record?                                                                                                                                    

Roy C. Turnbaugh


Implementing Requirements for Recordkeeping: Moving from Theory to Practice                                

Timothy A. Slavin


Obstacles and Opportunities: A Strategic Approach to Electronic Records                                                

Robert Horton


Government On-line and Electronic Records: The Role of the National Archives of Canada                

John McDonald


Playing the Electronic Angles and Working the Digital Seams: The Challenge and Opportunities State Electronic Government Initiatives Present to State Archival and Records Management Programs                                

Alan S. Kowlowitz


The Law of Electronic Information: Burgeoning Mandates and Issues                                                                                                

Lee S. Strickland


Riding the Lightning: Strategies for Electronic Records and Archives Programs

Bruce W. Dearstyne




About the Contributors






Effective Approaches for Managing Electronic Records and Archives includes fresh insights, perspectives, strategies, and approaches for managing electronic records, particularly those of enduring value, and for strengthening the operation of archival programs in digital environments. The book is intended for archivists, records managers, librarians, and related information management professionals; for program managers; and for executives in institutions who need guidance on developing policies for electronic records. The authors, all experts in the field with experience in developing and managing effective programs, combine their own insights and observations with advice on how to customize records management and archival programs to fit particular settings and circumstances.


            The book presents a diversity of viewpoints. Rick Barry’s lead chapter provides a historical retrospective on the impact of digital technologies over the past four decades. Roy Turnbaugh’s provocative essay raises the basic question of what we actually mean by the term and concept electronic record. Tim Slavin discusses the implications of attempting to translate theory into practice in developing a strategic approach to electronic records. Robert Horton discusses strategic approaches in the setting of Minnesota state government. John McDonald analyzes roles for the National Archives of Canada as that nation’s government moves to government on-line. Alan Kowlowitz discusses the challenges and opportunities that state electronic government initiatives present for archives and records programs. Lee Strickland puts electronic records management into a broader perspective of legal implications and issues. My concluding chapter sets forth a series of practical strategies for electronic records and archival programs.


            Several themes emerge from these essays. Digital technology is not new—we have had electronic records of one type or another for more than forty years—but there is still no single “solution” to electronic records issues currently or in prospect. Multiple approaches and strategies are needed. Traditional archival and records programs, particularly in government settings, are struggling with the issues. Advice and guidance from sources such as professional associations has limited value; their chief role in this area may be to serve as forums for exchange of information on best practices and successful approaches. Imagination, improvisation, and pragmatic approaches suited to individual programs are needed to make progress. Working as part of a network, in partnership with others, is an essential strategy in many settings. Archivists and records managers look for ways to proceed in concert with institutional information technology offices or CIO’s (Chief Information Officers), particularly in ensuring that records issues are addressed as institution-wide information policy is developed. The situation is complicated by having to operate in settings where the technology, legal mandates and rules, user expectations, potential partners, and other factors are constantly in motion. But progress is possible, as the essays demonstrate.


            I would like to thank all the authors for sharing their insights, perspectives and recommendations. As always, I’m particularly grateful to my wife Susan for her support and assistance during this and many other initiatives over the years.


Bruce W. Dearstyne

College Park, Maryland


·        To view the first chapter of the book, click here: Technology and the Transformation of the Workplace: Lessons Learned Traveling Down the Garden Path, by Rick Barry.


·        To view purchasing information, click here.