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International Congress on Archives 2004 - pres 186 MYBURGH B ARMA 01 (Page 7)

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International Congress on Archives 2004 - pres 186 MYBURGH B ARMA 01
International Congress on Archives
At a practical level, it is at the points of creation and of appraisal where the two professions really need to work
together. The process of determining when records should be destroyed is a critical point of convergence between
records managers and archivists. This involves issues of ethics and accountability to society, as well as to
organisations. Archivists need to ensure that all important acts and ideas are adequately documented by reliable
evidence ­ as do records managers ­ but, as indicated, this is for different purposes. The records manager focuses
largely on serving the organisation, whereas the archivist attempts to serve society as a whole.
Electronic records management
Archives and records management both embrace electronic forms, so there cannot be a distinction between the
professions along the lines of format.
Users are different: for records managers, users are largely seeking legal evidence and administrative information;
for archivists, users are historical researchers attempting to create new knowledge about past events, people and
Some points regarding an inclusive, integrated program of records management and archives
There will usually be agreement that users need access to organised records. These include both current and
inactive records, as a complete historical understanding of the organisation and its processes and decision is
desirable. Determining what is valuable, and what can be destroyed, is problematic. This is further complicated
by the range of formats of records, in particular the increase in the number of digital records in a variety of
formats. Legislation covering these areas is not yet fully developed.

There are also some practical issues, such as the question of custody and ownership as records pass from one phase
of the continuum to another. It is not always easy to find properly trained staff who have the holistic view of
managing records ­ active as well as archived. An other practical issue is the development of a classification
scheme and thesaurus that will accommodate all types of records at all stages, for all purposes. Such convergence
also implies that various important aspects of records management, or archival, work cannot be neglected or
ignored. Here we can consider preservation strategies, or capturing evidential integrity, for example.
Professional convergence
We believe that there is another, more fundamental `paradigm shift' which will enable better understanding of the
relationship between `records management' and `archives', indicating differences and similarities between these
disciplines and adjacent disciplines such as librarianship. Myburgh has called this the "new information
professional (NIP)" (Myburgh, 2003, 2004, forthcoming). This encompasses the view of a `metacommunity' of
information professionals as mentioned by Gililand-Swetland (2000) and identifies the common objectives,
principles, techniques and tasks which unify the new metaprofession.

In broad terms, it can be said that the duties of the museum, library, records and archive worker are very similar:
acquisition, organisation, interpretation and service. Archivists have long ignored the management of active
records as they are used for business purposes. However, given the trends identified above, and the proliferation
of records (particularly electronically), there is renewed interest by the archival profession in active records

There are many reasons why convergence could or should take place. These include the issues mentioned above as
drivers of change ­ such as new ways of doing business, development of ICTs and the economic value of
information. Convergence occurs around a variety of common interests and problems, such as globalisation,
legislation, digital preservation, and so on.

Because of the increasing emphasis on information, rather than documents, there are several points of convergence
with newer information professionals, such as strategic information managers, competitive intelligence officers
and knowledge managers ­ all part of the metacommunity. Such convergence permits a diversity of career paths
for recordkeepers. We emphasise that a such a metacommunity is desirable on theoretical, practical, and
educational grounds, and we argue for a unified professional association.

Cook (2000b) asserts that the archival profession is headed for a schism unless something is done ­ largely
between those who associate themselves with records managers, and those who associate themselves with
historians and possibly librarians, notably manuscript archivists. Cunningham is of the view that "The case for a
continuation of the strict separation of archivists from active record keeping has become completely unsustainable"
(Cunningham, 1997).
While there are several professional associations serving many different aspects of the information
metacommunity, we will concentrate here on the International Council of Archives (ICA), and the Association for

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