Session three of the ARMA Metro MD seminar is by Bob Spangler and entitled, “Moving the Needle: Developing the IT Archivist.” Bob has been an IT specialist with NARA for over 12 years and supporting large scale IT projects for longer then I’ve been alive.
The needle is the mix between the archival and technical skill set for the RIM landscape. Bob believes that the needle needs to move more to the technical side.
An “IT Archivist” would be someone who come at the problem of electronic records as an IT person who secondarily learns about records management, archiving and electronic records preservation rather then the other way around. The idea is not to supplant classic RM/archives skills, but to supplement them within a permanent and dedicated staff who have readily available technical skills.
Electronic records are “record” in the classical sense, but they are also specific technical entities born of specific computer-based applications.
Appraising and scheduling records electronic records means rethinking old classification. By redefining old classifications allows us to bring in information we were missing before.
Electronic records create implications for how records are transferred and what information is important for the complete record.
Processing electronic records allows for minimalist and less invasive processing procedures. Due to numerous formats you cannot become granular with requirements, but need a more relaxed approach.
Preserving electronic records means adopting idea of “data-at-rest” and leaving records where they are. Traditional means of preservation are not scalable when applied to electronic records management.
Accessing electronic records is less series oriented, but focuses more on search and retrieval via user. One controversial aspect of this is access being made to everyone for the majority of information and let the user weed out irrelevant information.
A new unit within NARA that is dedicated to practical, IT-based solutions geared toward the early lifecycle. They provide technical consulting with transferring agencies, representing appraisal archivists and processing units. Tasks include implementing solutions such as writing code and production tools. Developing alternative accessioning methods such as web harvest, cloud storage, Capstone (email processing) and classified processing for electronic records management.
Managing electronic records needs to have processes guided by archivists and records managers. At this point there is no context for “pure” IT solutions. This involves a staff which is 20% IT, but only time and intuition will tell if this is correct.