What Genealogy Records Can Teach Us About Records Management

Victoria McClurg

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Whether someone is looking for an ancient family bloodline or a long-lost relative, genealogy relies heavily on the use of records. So, what can genealogy records teach us about records management?

For one, storage matters. When you’re searching for information from a document that’s hundreds of years old, you need to make sure it’s in the right format — safe, protected, and secure. In a Q & A series in the New York Times, Bertram Lyons, an archivist at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress in Washington, recommends looking for archival storage products that are composed of polyethylene, polypropylene and polyester.

Of course, depending on the format, there are a number of different options for properly archiving data. Ensure that you assess the benefits for each type of format. The pros and cons should be clearly identified before moving forward with a solution.

Storage solutions are continuously evolving, so it’s important to understand your options. Lyons also recommends moving to a file-based digital format instead of a carrier-dependent format for long-term storage solutions.

A recent study from the Aberdeen Group found that primary data and most in-demand data is most likely to remain on-premise. However, if you’re an individual interested in storing World War Two documents as part of your genealogy records, you may want to consider Lyons’ suggestion. Essentially, data archiving needs to be tailored based on a variety of factors like accessibility and file format.

It doesn’t matter if you’re worried about preserving your family history, or protecting important valuable medical records — you need to implement a chain-of-command to establish clear accountability. Define the requirements of your program. Identify who is responsible for what task, and adapt your policies to ensure clear compliance.

Proper archiving and records management helps protect the history of your documents. Be sure to keep these three factors in mind throughout your RIM journey.

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