In my last post I outlined the work we would be doing to capture the digital archives of the IOE’s central administrative department – the Directorate. We thought it was about time we gave you an update on what we have been doing so far.
Until now, we have been spending the bulk of our time working with colleagues in the Directorate to find out more about what records are created and what the current practices are for managing electronic records. We decided the best method for us was to meet with each person and use a structured interview to make sure we were asking everyone the same questions. That makes it sound a lot scarier than it (hopefully) was and each meeting was generally a chat over coffee.
One of the most important parts of this process is the research you do before the actual survey takes place. For each interview I put together a guide of the types of records we have historically received in paper format and used the JISC classification and retention scheme to draw up a reference list of the types of activities and functions (we thought) are carried out by each person. This formed the basis of interviews as we went through the types of records we have (or would want to receive in the future) before going on to discuss formats, extent, location and so on. Now that we’re coming to the end of this stage, for me, it’s been a really valuable experience. Having not met many of the people we’ve spoken to (or having only ever spoken to them by email) I’ve really enjoyed actually talking to them about the records they create and have learnt a great deal that will help us develop our collection development policy for the IOE archive. I think I might even finally understand the IOE’s committee structure – which is no mean feat!
As part of the project we are also utilising some of the different online tools and standards that have been developed and assessing them from a records management point of view. The first tool we have used is the Data Asset Framework which has been designed to aid information professionals when carrying out surveys of electronic data. The methodology is simple to follow and that makes the tool nice and easy to use – a definite benefit. One aspect I really like is that you can have multiple logins to your account and can therefore share access with those who are creating the records. I think this is a great idea that aids good communication and allows everyone to gain access to the information and contribute without the information being duplicated as it’s sent backwards and forwards by email. However I did also feel it is probably better designed to record simple information about large data sets rather than detailed information about filing systems that can include a range of record formats on various subjects in one folder. To ensure we were recording all the details we need for the next stages of the project we therefore decided a spreadsheet would be a more suitable method. This document forms the basis of the second stage where we will apply the JISC retention schedule to draw up a retention and transfer scheme. This work has already started and we are hoping to have a draft scheme ready to send to our colleagues in the Directorate shortly after the Christmas break.