Part 1 - Information and records management - conceptual framework

Introduction

Information and records management occurs within a conceptual or notional framework comprising distinct parts. The components of this framework are:

  • Policies, guidelines, procedures and standards

  • Legislation and regulations

  • Training and support

The components of the conceptual framework emerge time and again in these guidelines as they influence and guide recommended actions. For the most part, the components of the conceptual framework are not afforded discrete sections in these guidelines because of the fluid manner in which they inform and affect each other.

Policy, guidelines, procedures and standards

Information and records management is an applied discipline. The methodologies that govern the information and records management system delineated here rely heavily on the theory that underpins strategies whose value and relevance has been proven elsewhere.

In the context of the University, policy, guidelines, procedures and standards relative to records and archives emanate from several sources:

  • The University's Records Management Policy represents an acceptable framework within which discrete units of the University should create information and records systems based on their unique requirements. The precepts outlined here are compatible with the University's Records Management Policy.

  • The University Archives and the Office of the Secretary and Bursar may issue instructions and advice about records and archival matters from time to time.

  • An Access to Archives Policy, ratified by the University's Governing Body on 30 November 1988, provides guidance on access to archival documents.

Legislation and regulations

Several pieces of legislation and regulations mention records and archival matters in various guises. Those that are most relevant are:

  • Data Protection Act, 1988

  • Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

  • Irish Universities Act, 1997

  • Freedom of Information Act, 1997

  • University Statutes

Training and Support

It is specifically acknowledged that considerable training and support for staff members is required in the area of information and records management. Information and records management standards are low in Ireland and it quite likely that staff members will have different levels of exposure to its principles:

  • An initial process involves familiarising all staff members with the policies, guidelines, procedures and standards enshrined in this manual. This is of paramount importance to ensure consistency of action between staff members, and that they are confident and comfortable with the information and records management system. The success of the information and records management system will be defined by the willingness of staff members to implement it. Training in this area might be effected in workshop or seminar arenas with relevant records professionals, and through informal discussion between all staff members.

  • It is particularly important to recognise the needs of new staff members. Once the information and records management system is up and running, it would be beneficial if a 'buddy system' was introduced to support new staff members.

  • As information and records management systems should be as pragmatic as possible and keep pace with change in the workplace, it is expected that procedures will be updated relatively often. Re-training is essential in this context.

  • As time passes, it is likely that information and records management systems will become more reliant on technology. Moreover, in order that technology is exploited to its fullest extent in all business processes, all staff members should receive extensive training in relevant technology.

  • Training is required in relation to specific areas. An example of this is in the context of disaster prevention and recovery planning. To a large extent, this dovetails with health and safety provisions, and the requirements of the latter should be fully exploited to treat risks associated with records.

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