What a Difference Forever Makes

By DANIEL ANTION posted 05-21-2013 16:37


When we talk about retention periods with respect to ECM and ERM, we are usually focused on process. “How do we establish the period?” “What happens at the end of the period?” “Can we establish a legal hold?” What about when there is no period? Or, what about when the “period” is forever? This was the subject of the AIIM New England Chapter’s final educational event of the 2012-13 program year, and I have to admit, I found the discussion fascinating.

I want to start by thanking the education staff at the National Archives New England Center in Waltham, MA for letting us hold the event in their wonderful facility, and for supplying two of our speakers. I also want to thank Brian Codagnone, Associate Curator with The Sports Museum in Boston for informing and entertaining us with stories from the trenches of the preservation industry.

Archiving – I’ve never been sure where archiving fits in the content management space. Part of me wants to think that archiving begins where ECM ends, at the “disposition” phase but part of me thinks it’s really just a different form of content management. When we listened to Jill Snyder from NARA’s talk about implementing the President’s new Directive, the tasks sounded ECM like to be sure. When Jean Nudd walked us through a series of fascinating examples of the kinds of things the Archives are holding, the information stored and purposes for storing it seemed similar to some of the things we have sitting in SharePoint. The content is different, it’s stored for a different purpose and it’s being stored forever, but I’m not sure that it’s a different undertaking. Perhaps archiving is the ultimate content management. Perhaps, it was the original content management and we are junior league new entrants to this game.

Preservation – I think this is clearly a different animal from ECM and even archiving. In addition to keeping track of content, preservation requires, well preservation of content. Brian talked about older items that deteriorate over time, as well as some items that have been donated to the museum in a less than pristine state. Getting these items ready for display, storing them when they are not being displayed, lending them to other institutions and moving them around to temporary exhibit spaces are all tasks that we don’t normally encounter in our work-a-day world. In addition, preserving something for a museum means that you need a story to tell and people who can tell the story. Sometimes I wish that we had to put items on display here. Maybe if we had to tell people what our documents are, when and why they were created and why we are keeping them, we would have fewer documents to worry about.

#AIIMNE #archiving #SportsMuseum #NARA #ECM #preservation


06-11-2013 16:35

That's a blog that really got me thinking. I guess I haven't been bothered with "preservation" as an issue in my career yet. Fascinating.

05-24-2013 08:59

At least in some cases. If you have a content type or record series that has been identified as having permanent retention you should consider this as part of the business process. For example, if the records are created in paper form, print them on acid free paper, store them in similar folders, and in a proper environment in terms of temp and humidity. If they are born electronic, and say they are textual in nature - perhaps using Word or similar application - output them in PDF/A as an example of a format that can be preserved.
Start with the end in mind, if you can.

05-23-2013 10:14

Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I particularly enjoyed the section on archiving as it relates to ECM and what is defined as content management within the spectrum of information management.