Report on Pre-Conference Workshop Digital Records Management

The public and private sectors in Belize, as in many Caribbean countries, are faced with the overwhelming challenge of effective management of large volumes of accumulated paper records. Often, unrealistic expectations are placed on the purchasing of scanners and the unstructured mass scanning to “manage these records digitally” for the ultimate destruction of the original paper.

A common response to requests for Records Management support is regrettably seen as an expense and not an investment. Therefore, records and information professionals are expected to introduce immediate and practical solutions with limited financial support, resources or specialized tools that can assist in the effective management of paper and digital records.

At the pre-conference workshop of CARBICA XI’s Conference and General Assembly, Mr. James Lowry, Lecturer University of Liverpool Centre for Archives Studies, and Ms. Sonia Black, Campus Records Manager, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, delivered an informative workshop entitled “Digital Records Management”.

Mr. Lowry introduced the participants to concepts and threats, both human and machine, of digital records while emphasizing the intrinsic value these, together with paper records, hold in all organizations. Electronic Document and Records Management Systems (EDRMS) were covered as these typically attempt to centralize control of digital records and often perform many of the same tasks as traditional registry systems of paper records. Standards and sources for functional requirements, otherwise referred to as tasks, were shared as essential tools for the review and evaluation of any EDRMS.

These elements, the challenges and application, were reiterated by Ms. Sonia Black through her efforts at UWI when seeking support for the implementation of a platform for the digitization and management of paper and digital records. With limited funds available, Ms. Black was able to exploit an existing software, Banner Xtender Solutions, for the document management functionalities it held. The successful reutilization of this application created an interest from other Departments of the university to likewise embrace and use the records management features of the same software.

A very important aspect and of keen interest to all non-information professionals, is the ability to manage digital records without specialist software. Mr. Lowry was able to share various practical approaches at managing these records through simple methods such as evaluating paper collections for digitization, designing naming conversions, creating classification schemes in shared network drives, etc. Additional ideas were highlighted at file profiling, checksums, and technical registries with the end goal of ensuring the integrity and authenticity of digital records.

In the end, all participants of this workshop were overwhelmingly satisfied with the information garnered as it was not only directed at information professionals but gave practical and immediate solutions to those personnel who are entrusted with record keeping responsibilities.

By: Mr. Kevin Montero – Belize

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