Last week saw the launch of the ARA's new campaign, Don't Risk It! Know Your Records. I went to the launch campaign to see what it was all about and how it might help us at the National, where we are taking a good look at our records management strategy.
The campaign has been designed by the ARA Section for Records Management and Information Governance, who are the professionals who work with records management on a daily basis and are perfectly poised to advise the rest of the ARA on best practice. The launch event was really an introduction to the aims and toolkit as well as some case studies.
Importantly, the key messages are simple:
1. There are significant benefits and economies for organisations which manage their records and information well.
2. Organisations with poor (or no) record keeping systems are risking a great deal - legally and reputationally.
3. Professionals records managers are highly skilled, organisational problem-solvers. Modern, successful organisations need their skills.
A presentation from a records manager of the Bank of England showed the way records management can work in a very stream-lined manner. But, the National Theatre is nothing like the BofE and it is tricky to pick and choose what will suit my institution. Having had a look at the toolkit, there are activities and advice for all shapes and sizes of institutions and it has been kept deliberately broad. I am hoping that there will be some information there to help and opportunities to network with those in similar positions.
One of the overarching themes of the day was that of communication. I have long said that what we need at the NT is a good working relationship between the Archive and each and every department in order to build trust and understanding in what we do. Only then will we be able to set up a working records management strategy and ensure that we receive what we need to. This is just one of the three skills outlined as necessary in a records manager: technical and legal skills are also required.
I am working on writing our records management strategy at the moment and am looking forward to putting it into action in the next few months. It will not be as complicated as it could be, we do not currently come under FOI and we do not have the compliance restrictions on us that banks and financial institutions do but we have to work with the cultural archive material as well as the records required for records management. We will need to wait and see how my plans work when put into action!