Magazine article Information Management

Book Review: Pondering Theoretical Recordkeeping

Magazine article Information Management

Book Review: Pondering Theoretical Recordkeeping

Article excerpt

Book Review: Pondering Theoretical Recordkeeping TITLE: Record Keeping in a Hybrid Environment: Managing the Creation, Use, Preservation and Disposal of Unpublished Information Objects in Context (Chandos Information Professional Series) EDITORS: AlistairTough and Michael Moss PUBLISHER: Chandos Publishing PUBLICATION DATE: 2006 LENGTH: 300 pages PRICE: $69.95

SOURCE: mvw.amazon.com

Record Keeping in a HyMd Environment is the collaborative product of academic thinkers on record and archival matters and practicing recordkeepers and archivists at Glasgow University in Scotland. The editors, Alistair Tough and Michael Moss, are both research faculty with the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) at Glasgow University.

In this compilation, the editors invited 10 colleagues affiliated with the HATII or the university to contribute essays addressing electronic records and digital issues, as well as a few more traditional issues that apply both to electronic and traditional paper-based records. Topics include records appraisal, risk management, records description, recordkeeping continuum, and the interaction between archivists and records managers. The essays focusing primarily on electronic or digital concerns are those addressing implementation of electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS), digital preservation, digital security, and archival digitization project planning.

The collection of essays and case studies is directed at two principal audiences: busy recordkeeping professionals who may be in mid-career and need to sharpen their familiarity with recent developments in theory and practice, and "those who have been 'recycled' into recordkeeping roles [and] have had to find their way as best they can." A book directed at these two groups is much needed, considering the current complexities and demands of maintaining records and information efficiently, effectively, and legally. However, the large number of theoretical and philosophical essays in the book, often supported by complex and abstract diagrams and tables, does little to help the overwhelmed journeyman recordkeeper or the employee thrown to the information management wolves because of a shortage of trained professionals. Further, the wide variety of styles and sophistication levels of essays do not make this a good reading choice for the busy practitioner or the novice record-keeper.

In addition, the book's strong focus on practitioners working in the British Commonwealth renders the work of limited use to professionals practicing in other countries. For instance, specific UK imaging and metadata projects and standards, as well as jurisdictional legal issues discussed in the book, make large portions of the text of Me applicability to those beyond the British Isles.

As an example of the highly theoretical nature of the edited collection, the first chapter of the book addresses the two intellectual traditions of recordkeeping, the Commonwealth tradition and the American tradition, both of which emphasize disparate models of recordkeeping based on different stages of direct professional intervention in the record creation process and the different roles of the record manager and the archivist. Although thought-provoking, the abundance of complex diagrams, physical science models, and discussions of the time-space continuum using the Einstein-Minkowski light-cone model, does not serve as a refresher for the fully occupied practitioner or the "recycled" recordkeeper. …

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