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New Blog Helps Preserve History


Ivy Day 1895--photographer unknown (College Archives)

Imagine a world without records of our past, one devoid of archives containing the hard-copy histories of those who have lived, worked and studied before us. How would we learn and evolve?

Amid this digital information age, the business and processes of record keeping have become increasingly difficult to manage. Email correspondence that once would have existed on paper letters becomes lost in a digital morass. Many research notes and records of events exist only virtually, stored precariously on hard drives that can quickly become obsolete. Yet archiving and record keeping is as important today as ever.

To help the management of keeping important records at Smith, Leslie Fields, who began at Smith in October as the records services archivist in the libraries, has created a new weblog, titled For the Record, designed to assist those in the Smith community with their archiving.

“History really does come alive through journals, letters, documents, photographs, films, and all sorts of other records,” notes Fields. “These materials help to tell the story of Smith, the larger story of women and higher education in the United States, and the even larger story of women’s history.”

The records services blog includes periodic entries, such as links to articles regarding archiving, as well as explanatory tidbits on record keeping and helpful guides to completing forms.

“The objective of the records services blog is to teach the Smith community about records management at Smith,” says Fields. “Every employee has an important role to play in protecting the future of Smith by creating, using, retrieving, and disposing of records in accordance with the college’s records management policy.”

The college’s policy was devised during nine months last year by the ad hoc Committee on Records Management, composed of members of the offices of the general counsel, Dean of the Faculty/Provost, controller and class deans, and from College Archives and ITS. The policy outlines requirements and processes for how to create, use and preserve records, and applies to all departments and schools on campus.

This year, records services will work closely with several offices on campus, including the School for Social Work, the Clark Science Center and science departments, the Center for Foreign Languages and Culture, and language departments. The endeavor, for which Fields was hired to assist, is supported by a grant from the Alice K. Delmas Foundation.

Fields’ blog is intended to promote the college records management policy and its records services program in College Archives, and to provide Smith employees with easy access to records services forms. Also, says Fields, she hopes her blog posts will help employees understand their responsibilities to manage records.

“I want everyone to know that we are here to help them,” said Fields. “It is important to share record-keeping advice with the Smith community so everyone is aware of both the college’s legal obligations to retain and preserve certain types of records and the importance of records to its overall operations.”


3/26/07   By Eric Sean Weld
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