Book Review: Managing Electronic Records, By Ina Fourie
The management of electronic records is an increasingly big challenge for organizations in public, private and academic sectors. Many organizations are faced with this challenge. A wide variety of record types, roles and issues are involved and the problem of the creation, caption, organization and preservation of electronic records are being faced by various levels of organizational management. This includes IT managers, middle management and senior management (the policy makers), as well as the people on the ground floor who have to complete the actual tasks involved in record management. According to John McDonald (p. 7): “Leadership (and the lack thereof) is the single most important factor impacting the ability of organizations to move forward on the management of electronic records in the ‘wild frontier’”. According to him positive change can be influenced by vision, awareness, accountability, architecture and capacity building.
To address the diversity and complexity of record management, contributors from five continents share their views and experiences. The contributors including IT specialists, consultants, a managing director, academic researchers, and practicing record managers come from China, Australia, France, South Africa, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Managing Electronic Records addresses a variety of theoretical and practical aspects – important issues are explored and solutions offered. These include the infrastructure required, legal aspects, the role of management, the use of standards and models, the importance of metadata, digital preservation, preservation technologies, ethical aspects, human resources and the competencies required, electronic record keeping in the public sector, as well as two case studies from the French private sector. There is especially a strong emphasis on the need for ongoing efforts to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness.
All chapters are well-written. Personally I found the contributions of Xiaomi An and Thijs Laeven very interesting. Xiaomi An deals with the contribution of research in electronic management including the different research roles, the benefits, stages of research, and research agendas. The InterPARES project is discussed in more detail. Laeven, on the other hand, considers competencies and the development of human resources as the most important issue in electronic record management. He provides an interesting overview of continuous professional development, models of change management, and competency management.
Managing Electronic Records is well-bounded and well-edited. All chapters include lists of references that range from reasonable to very extensive. The book is concluded with an eight-page index. A complete list of web addresses is available as companion to the book at www.facetpublishing.co.uk/managingelectronicrecords/
It is highly recommended to all practitioners who is faced with the challenge of managing organizational records (this includes functions such as caption, organization, preservation and creation of electronic records), as well as students doing courses in records management.