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This chapter will discuss the role of libraries in archives and records management. Not all libraries fulfill this role for the Parliament. Where they do, this chapter outlines the role of ICT in facilitating the archiving and records management process, including Records Management systems. Records are an essential tool for organisations in preserving their history and culture, and form a base of information for planning and decision making. They can also be evidence of accountability for government organisations. For Parliaments, the records of parliamentary debates, media releases and publications by Parliament and Members may be an important role of the library. Where no such record keeping is currently maintained by the Parliament, it may be an area of initiative by the library.
Several well-known disasters have impacted Parliaments and their archives. Most notably:
Fire, earthquake, and simple deterioration can all pose threats to library collections. A plan to ensure that the most important historical are adequately managed. From a systems point of view this can include the proper technical housing of the materials in conditions that ensure their long term preservation, and periodic inspection and review. A policy of digitization can enhance the preservation prospects by ensuring that all valuable physical assets have an equivalent digital copy which can be kept locally and in networked copies. Typical issues for archival maintenance include environmental control, building maintenance (fire and flooding controls), storage, handling and access controls, security and acquisition policies (and in particular retention rules to ensure that required items are marked and retained for archival purposes).
The first step in assessing the library capabilities to support archives and records management is an assessment of current practice and capabilities to highlight areas of high risk were records and information management procedures are required. It is important to prepare a business case for establishing a robust records management framework. This business case should include an assessment of current capabilities and the steps needed to achieve a robust records management and archival preservation system. This can form the basis for a business case to present to management and to assist in developing the institutional capabilities in this area. This audit should also be focused on highlighting the preservation of the unique physical assets held by the library.
The assets that may be unique to a parliamentary library include:
However the scope of the record-keeping by the parliamentary library may be broader than this. The International Standards Organisation definition of a “record” includes “recorded information in any form, including data in computer systems, created or received and maintained by an organization or person in the transaction of business and kept as evidence of such activity” (ISO 15489).
The role of the library in managing assets may encompass both physical and digital assets. Records management of IT assets can include documents produced and distributed through desktop productivity systems, emails, financial reports, and of course the correspondence and output of parliamentary committees and of course of the Parliament itself.
The proper archival management of these resources needs to achieve several goals. From a documentary point of view they need to be able to demonstrate:
The management of archival copies of physical assets requires asset management policies that are different from normal library lendng policies. For instance, the library should identificaty the “authoritiative” copy of the item, which normally will not be lent. To this end, any system developed to support records management needs to follow consistent processes for asset management. These processes include record capture, registration, classification, security management, appraisal and review, storage, tracking and disposal steps, all as a part of a life cycle of records management, as follows:
Record Capture processes– a set of rules governing what records should be kept. Registration - the processes whereby records identified for preservation are assigned a unique identifier and basic description information (such as the date of capture, time, title of the item and source). Classification and indexing – the secondary processes whereby more extensive metadata capture occurs, including information on retention. Access and security – the definition of levels of access, usage restrictions for items. This may include information capture on cultural usage rights and policies. Appraisal – integration of the record into review processes for preservation and, where relevant, disposal. Storage – maintain, handle and store records in accordance with their physical and digital preservation requirements for as long as legally and culturally required. Use and tracking – processes to ensure that only those who are allowed have relevant access and that such access is tracked where relevant. Disposal – processes for review and identification of items that can be disposed of, and the migration of data across formats for longer term retention (for example physical to digital).
Across the breadth of these steps metadata is vital to ensure the management and accessibility of records. Both document management systems and digital library systems will typically have elements of these processes integrated in their workflows. See the last chapter for more details on the characteristics of these systems and their associated workflows.
The business plan for archives management should plan can be formulated which includes the workflow processes, training requirements for staff and environmental changes necessary for good archives management. Associated with this plan should be a disaster recovery assessment which evaluates the risks and associated actions for ongoing records management and preservation. The disaster plan should include the physical and technological elements for recovery from disaster, and should be stored in locations accessible other than on the parliamentary network and include the following information:
Where the parliamentary library has a specific responsibility in this area, the designation of an archives office may be necessary whose responsibility will be to ensure that processes for record keeping and preservation are sustained in the Parliament and to sustain ongoing staff development in record keeping policies.
There may be specific national metadata standards for record keeping that meed to be maintain. For instance the AGLS Metadata standard is used by Australian Government agencies as a standard for description of records and archives (http://www.naa.gov.au/records-management/publications/AGLS-Element.aspx). Dublin Core is an important metadata framework that can be expressed as Open Archives Metadata (http://www.openarchives.org/sfc/sfc_oams.htm). Many of the digital library systems discussed in the last chapter include capabilities for metadata enhancement of records and objects stored in the system. METS is as well-known schema used for many records and archives. designed for digital libraries (http://www.loc.gov/standards/mets/).
Refer to the last chapter for discussion of records and digital library systems that can support archives management. Core technologies that support good records management are barcoding and RFID. Barcoding of physical assets is cheap and durable and simplifies the process of undertaking periodic stocktakes/reviews of assets. RFID can be useful both for tracking and asset review where tracking of items is more critical.