International Congress on Archives
Globalisation and internationalisation
As more and more `local' companies have grown into `global' international traders and multi-national
conglomerates, their record keeping and information sharing needs have grown in complexity. Global companies
require global processes, but these must take account of both international and local laws and regulations. There
are language and cultural barriers to overcome, but these affect every department and function, at all levels.
Overall leadership and control may rest with a single country or records manager, but it is easier if responsibility is
divided geographically between several - but they must work closely together at all times to co-ordinate their
As we have already seen, organisations and companies in most sectors are subject to governmental, regulatory, and
other external controls and requirements. Financial and corporate governance requirements are particularly
demanding. Recent publicity highlighting poor or non-compliant corporate accountancy and record keeping;
premature deletion of e-mail records; accusations of deliberate concealment or shredding of paper records; and the
consequent legislation (such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act) and have further strengthened the global role of the
Records Manager. (Sometimes nowadays referred to as "Compliance Man").
Theoretical convergence between records management and archives
Paradigm shift Part 1 - Lifecycle and continuum models
In order to understand and explain current recordkeeping responsibilities, and in particular, to accommodate the
changing environment as noted above, there has been what has been described as a `paradigm shift' in
recordkeeping theory. In order to explain this, it is first necessary to mention that in Europe, for the most part,
archives includes records management. The division between the two areas is most clearly seen in North America,
where records management was created as a separate discipline after World War 2.
Records management lifecycle
The Records Management function is frequently described as all responsibilities for records in all formats,
throughout their lifecycle, from planning and creation to ultimate disposal. The lifecycle view of records
management offers two choices of `death' for the active record disposition or destruction, or removal to an
archives. This is misleading as records are not `disposed of' in an archives, but start another life. In Records
Management, these two fates are often regarded as synonymous; both finalise records management
The original Australian Standard defined the records continuum as covering:
"the whole extent of a record's existence. Refers to a consistent and coherent regime of management processes
from the time of the creation of records (and before creation, in the design of recordkeeping systems) through to
the preservation and use of records as archives" (AS4390.1-1996: General, Clause 4.6).
The idea of the continuum is not to indicate a lifespan or otherwise of a record or fonds, but to indicate how such
records should be managed, and the chain of responsibility. The emphasis is less on archival arrangement and
description, although it does indicate the organisational and social context in which records are created. As such,
An proposes that the records continuum model is "a best practice model for managing electronic records and
archives within the broader context of archival science" as the continuum framework can provide "common
understandings, consistent standards, unified best practice criteria, interdisciplinary approaches and collaborations
in the recordkeeping and archiving process for both the paper and the digital worlds" (An, 2001).
It should be made clear that records continuum management comprises a series of rather indistinct phases, and
therefore cannot be considered as a simple addition of two discrete functions records management and archives
which may have irreconcilable differences.
David Roberts, in an email to the Aus-archivists listserv on 21
February 1999, states:
"[The simple model of the records continuum as defined in the original Australian standard] recognises that
records do not magically become something else when we decided that we should keep them as archives there is
no archival transubstantiation and that archives are simply records that we have appraised as having continuing
or enduring, as opposed to identifiably finite, value...This...leads inevitably to what is the touchy part of all this:
professional turf. If records managers and archivists undertake the same processes (an interwoven continuum of
such processes) to manage the same things (records) using the same professionally accepted standards..., why do
we want or need two professions?" [Emphasis added].
This indicates the centrality of the new recordkeeping paradigm to understanding the relationship similarities and
differences between records management and archives, which can now be considered as one, under the rubric of