University of Glasgow Effective Records Management Project Reports

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					                          Effective Records Management Project   Interim Progress Report

                                        UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW

                                 Effective Records Management Project
                                   Interim Progress Report to JTAP

1. Introduction
        To be successful, organisations must manage information effectively. Businesses and
        institutions are being forced by regulatory authorities, often armed with heavy penalties, to
        address problems of efficient record keeping. On the whole compliance relates to transactional
        information: a purchase, a hospital admission, a life insurance policy and so on.
        The big challenge for the future in both the public and private sector is to address the large bulk
        of non-transactional information used in the management of the organisation. In education the
        school roll (a transactional record) is only a tiny fraction of the information handled in the
        classroom every day. In a firm sales records are supported by product drawings, handbooks,
        customer correspondence and so on. In the overall management of an organisation there are
        minutes, supporting papers, corporate plans, financial projections and correspondence. It is in
        this area that the project has been working.
        Much paper based information is stored in files, which when they cease to be current find their
        way into the compliance record retention system, where they are stored but are usually difficult
        to access. The file is simply an administrative convenience introduced about the time of the
        First World War. It is wasteful as it involves duplication and cross-referencing. Registry
        systems have become very costly to administer and, to a large extent, have broken down
        because, in the digital world, information is not always recorded on paper. In these systems
        documents are held in entities called „files‟; but these only loosely approximate to paper files.
        Before the file was introduced all documents were considered to be unique items and were
        stored separately with, in large organisations, accompanying registers of names, subjects and
        places and even in small offices elaborate cross-referencing. This system was replaced, by the
        file, because it became physically unwieldy; not because it lacked intellectual coherence.
        Our work suggests a need to return to this approach by treating each electronic document as a
        uniquely tagged authenticated item, which is accessed through mark up relating directly to
        shared authority files. Each unique document should be endowed with a status at creation,
        determining its shelf-life in much the same way as transactional records in paper form are
        tagged in a proper records management system. As a result some documents would be
        destroyed almost immediately, while others would be archived, in the proper sense of the word,
        at the point of creation.
        The benefits of such an approach within administrative systems are:
          1. The efficient and rapid retrieval of information required by managers at all levels within an
             organisation across information networks.
          2. The encouragement of fundamental cultural change within an organisation away from a
             paper based world towards the full exploitation in all areas of activity of the potential of
             information networks. We believe such change to be essential; but expect it will have a
             radical effect on working practices and patterns of employment in both the public and
             private sector.
          3. This cultural change will encourage another because as information is made available in
             this way governance will per force become more open as decisions about confidentiality
             are brought sharply into focus.
          4. The eventual replacement of all paper documentation by electronic information bases
             except where it is still required for compliance reasons; but we expect providing

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                          Effective Records Management Project   Interim Progress Report

              safeguards are in place that jurisdictions will accept electronic records as admissible
              evidence in the near future.
          5. Massive savings in printing, packaging and distribution.
        Although we are concentrating on management information, we believe that systems using
        large authority files will be used within learning environments in HEIs and represent, in many
        subject areas, a more effective use of information systems than expensive and closed CAL

2. Records management
        The vacant post of Records Manager was filled in August when Annette Pfleger joined the
        team direct from the MA Archives and Records Management course at University College,
        The team has continued their work on the paper filing schemes of the departments and offices
        of the Central Administrative and Academic Services Planning Units. As noted in the previous
        report, the analysis and survey work in this domain is critical to the establishment of standards
        for metadata and authority file content for the digital order.
        The long-standing backlog of non-current files in the Personnel Department has now been
        cleared. Of these files, approximately 3,500 have been deposited in the newly opened Records
        Centre with appropriate retention periods applied.
        In addition, the team has overseen the establishment of the records management practices and
        filing schemes for the newly created Faculty of Education and its Vice-Principal, and continues
        to advise all departments regarding the retention of semi-current information for either
        operational value or transfer to the archival collections.
        It was a testament to the value attributed to the work of the records management team that the
        Principal, Professor Sir Graeme Davies, provided the keynote speech to the JISC NFF meeting
        held in Liverpool in June on “Records Management as an Information Resource Strategy”.
        The team is nearing completion of a core Best Practice Records Manual for the University,
        which will require regular review and updating of file creation, use and retention practices. It
        will also identify appropriate retention periods for the major record series. Sections will be
        added to reflect specific departmental / office responsibilities.
        The Records & Information Management Intensive Programme (RIMIP), the externally
        marketed training course, continues to be a part of the RM responsibilities. It is hoped that it
        will become part of the MBA programme by the beginning of the 1999/2000 session and there
        will be provision within the University of Glasgow staff development programme for a more
        practical course for administrators and secretarial staff.

3. Tools for structured document creation
        Work has continued on the development of tools for the creation of documents in a structured
        form using Microsoft Word.
        These tools have three principal objectives:
           The addition of critical structural information to the data content of the document.
           The capture of key elements of metadata.
           The provision of interfaces to authority files.
        The addition of structural information is achieved through the use of standard features available
        within Word, principally the controlled application of paragraph and character styles to identify
        information content. The main challenge in this area has been an educational one, rather than a
        technical one. The use of templates and styles as structuring techniques demands a disciplined

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                          Effective Records Management Project   Interim Progress Report

        approach to document creation. It is quite incompatible with some authoring practices which,
        while they are usually transparent when the goal has been the immediate rendition of the
        document on paper, are essentially inherited from the use of the typewriter.
        Metadata is captured at the time of document creation through the retrieval of values from the
        Word environment (e.g. File Summary Information) and through user dialogues. It is encoded
        at present as a subset of the Dublin Core metadata element set, supplemented by other elements
        for local application use. The SGML-encoded form of the document will incorporate the
        metadata in a form compatible with the Resource Description Framework (RDF) standard.
        The development of interfaces to make authority files available for use by document creators
        has two goals. Firstly, certain elements within a document should be entered in a standardised
        form, or in one of a limited number of forms depending on context. Further, each occurrence of
        a form of description should be reconcilable as a reference to the same information entity. Such
        a control is a prerequisite for the establishment of unambiguous relationships between
        information entities. The development of the authority files themselves is discussed below.
        One further result of this work has been the application of some of the same principles of
        document creation to the structuring of documents for other applications, most notably in
        macros for the creation of archival finding aids conforming to the Encoded Archival
        Description (EAD) Document Type Definition. In particular, the work on authority files has
        enabled members of the team, through Lesley Richmond, to make contributions to the
        initiatives presently taking place within the UK archival community regarding the creation of
        National Name Authority Files.

4. Conversion to non-proprietary forms
        Several options have been explored for the “up-conversion” of Microsoft Rich Text Format
        forms of documents generated by the tools described in section 3 to SGML-encoded forms. It
        has proved quite difficult to find tools which correctly and reliably process RTF documents
        with the necessary flexibility of output, but good results have been obtained from RTF2HTML,
        a program written by Chris Hector (Sunpack). Though designed for the generation of
        HTML-encoded documents, it employs a table-driven configuration model which allows
        sufficient flexibility for the output of documents conforming to any SGML/XML Document
        Type Definition.

5. Authority files
        The project is working in co-operation with the Senate Information Project, under the direction
        of the recently-established Integrated Information Project Board, which is chaired by the
        Secretary of Court. The Senate Project has developed a comprehensive staff authority file, held
        in an SGML-encoded form, for use in the production of the University Calendar and Diary.
        Michael Moss recently organised a seminar on the subject of authority files for personnel data,
        which brought together for the first time all of the parties within the University who have an
        interest in this area, either as information authorities responsible for the data content, as key
        users of that information, or as providers of the infrastructure for its storage and distribution.
        The seminar has led to the establishment of a working group, convened by Michael Moss,
        charged with recommending appropriate procedures for the capture, validation and update of
        such information.

6. Roll-out of tools to document creators
        The principal papers of the Information Services Committee and its four sub-committees are
        now being created using the tools discussed in section 3 above.

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7. Training of project members
        Julie Cargill attended the Microsoft Office and Visual Basic Solutions Conference in London in
        July 1998 and is presently training in Visual Basic.
        James Currall and Pete Johnston have attended a training course in Java, presented by the
        University‟s Department of Computing Science.

8. Education and dissemination
        Training in the use of the document creation tools has to date been carried out by members of
        the project team. The tools were demonstrated to an audience of academics and administrators
        at the opening of the new University Records Centre in October this year.
        The project has prepared discussion papers on access to information and on document structure,
        available within the University of Glasgow via the project‟s Website.
        James Currall gave a presentation on access to information to the seminar “Striking the right
        balance : authentication, authorisation and privacy in HE networks”, organised by
        TALiSMAN/HEIDS and held in Stirling in May.
        Pete Johnston gave a presentation on the use of SGML in archives and records management to
        the seminar “Beyond HTML in the Academic World : SGML, XML and Text Encoding”,
        organised by the University of Glasgow in July, and a follow-up event is planned for early
        1999. He will be giving a presentation on document structure and markup languages to trainee
        archivists in Edinburgh at the end of November.
        James Currall has been instrumental in drawing the ideas and principles on which the project‟s
        work is based to the attention of the University‟s Information Strategy Steering Group and
        Advisory Committee on Information Standards, Guidelines and Protocols. This latter
        committee has recently established formal working groups whose remit is to produce guidelines
        for best practice in several of these areas, and members of the project team will contribute to
        these working groups.

9. Current work in progress
        A basic procedure for converting Word documents to SGML-encoded forms using
        RTF2HTML is presently under test, and the document creation procedures are being modified
        to incorporate it.
        As noted above, the University has now recognised the importance of developing a personnel
        authority file and the infrastructure for its maintenance and use and a working group has taken
        on this task. The project team will amend the document creation tools to provide the necessary
        interfaces to this authority file.
        Work is in progress on exploring the use of DSSSL- and XSL- processors to convert from
        SGML-encoded forms to RTF and HTML.
        In association with the Records Management team and with archival staff, the team is working
        on a revised system of referencing and indexing for committee papers.
        The team is planning a series of seminars on the key information issues. Proposed topics
        include: Data Protection and Freedom of Information; the value of structured document
        creation; issues of information ownership on Intranet-based systems; referencing systems;
        long-term archiving of electronic records.
        The Records Management team continues to service the core administrative departments and
        respond to requests from other sources within the University. At present, the team is working
        on the records of the Public Health Research Unit, assisting with the effective relocation of
        their semi-current and identifying their historical records. The dissemination of “best practice”
        for record keeping throughout the University remains a priority for the coming months.

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 10. Updated timetable: November 1998 – October 1999
         The implementation overview of May 1998 outlined the project tasks and areas of work from November 97 to October 99. The majority of the work
         described for the period November 97 to November 98 has been successfully completed. Ongoing tasks and those which are closely linked with other
         initiatives within the University continue to be addressed by the project. In keeping with developments over the six months since the overview we have
         revised the project timetable to take into account the changing requirements of the project. Effective Records Management Project Timetable

Date          Planning and         Deliverables                              Training and Education                Information Issues
Nov 98 -      Planning of          Full system testing of Version 2.0        Requirements analysis for             Requirements capture for referencing
Jan 99        Workshop Series                                                comprehensive training package        system
                                   Release of Version 2.0 to pilot user
                                   group containing:                         Education of trainers                 Development of procedures for referencing
                                   Referencing System                        Training of pilot users in            Development of tools to demonstrate the
                                   Enhanced conversion utility               referencing procedures                interface to University authority files
                                   Improved Web Delivery
                                   Bug-fixes                                 Training of users in version          Analysis of requirements and development
                                                                             control                               of procedures for version control
                                   Paper office audit reports
                                                                             Plan training sessions for staff in   Analysis of Data Protection and Freedom
                                   First draft of core Records               good practice for record              of information issues
                                   Management Manual                         keeping.
Feb 99 -      First workshop       Development of Interface to               Development of training               Investigation into the use of element-level
Apr 99        Feb. 1999            authority file(s)                         package for all document              search engines
                                                                             creators including:
              Continued            Enhancement of version control                                                  Development of procedures for subject
                                                                             Structuring documents
              delivery of                                                                                          indexing
                                   Development of conversion utility         Reviewing and checking of
              workshop series      and the formats produced                  documents
                                   Publication of Best Practice              Referencing
                                   Records Manual                            Deliver training sessions for
                                                                             staff in good practice for record

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May 99 -      Continued           Integration of element-level search     Continued development and              Continuation of investigation into access
Jul 99        delivery of         engine                                  review of user training in line        control requirements.
              workshop series                                             with system developments
                                  Implementation of procedures for                                               Review of long-term and short-term
                                  subject indexing                                                               storage options
                                                                          Subject indexing
                                  System functionality for subject        Searching                              Development of procedures for verification
                                  indexing                                                                       of information content
Aug 99 -      Continued           Controlled access to information        Education of document creators
Oct 99        delivery of                                                 and users in access control
                                  Development of long-term and
              workshop series                                             procedures, storage procedures
                                  short-term storage and retention
                                                                          and information verification
              Final               system
              dissemination       Implementation of
              events and          verification/authentication tools

 Prepared by: Effective Records Management Project Team
 Last modified on: Thursday 25 February 2010
 Version: 1.3

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 Pete Johnston/25 February 2010

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