I am chair of the Norwegian Society of Records Managers and Archivists (NA) and work as an information management consultant. NA is a professional association open to anyone with an interest in our field of expertise. NA was established in 1961 and has approximately 1200 members, making us the largest association for archives and records management in Norway. We are particularly concerned with the early phases of the document life cycle: creation and capturing.
My mission in working with information management is to help my colleagues and my organisation to control and have access to reliable information they need to conduct business in a compliant and efficient way. My mission has over the years more and more become a question of staying current with changes and adoption of new technology, ways of organising our businesses, how services are provided, regulations on the use of information and how information can be utilised. It has also been a long-lasting exercise in trying to close the gap between users expecting a fantastic user experience and the mandatory use of system work processes that have not been modernized accordingly.
The challenge seems to be quite similar across countries and continents. In Norway the government appointed a committee to work on a revision of the Act on Archives in 2017. Their report, “A new legislation on documentation and archives – from calf skin to Data Lake” was presented on April 2nd and delivered to the Minister of culture and equality. The title refers to the large span the report is covering, that of managing records and preserving archives formats from parchment to big data.
The report covers a lot of the challenges records managers and archivists are facing in the digital age. One example is the journal. The journal is a tradition of good recordkeeping which dates to 1740 when the king of Denmark-Norway, Christian the 6th, commanded all public offices in Norway to register all correspondence with the following information: sender/receiver, date of document and title. This way of logging information is still the basis of how records are managed but is not suitable as information is created, shared and used in different ways. The report suggests removing the mandatory journal and replacing it with the obligation to capture documentation in four areas:
- its communication
- the information systems, data bases, registers etc
- use of rule based, automated decision making
- its decisions etc
The report is just a month old and as we read new questions and considerations arise. The most certain thing about this report is that it needs to be discussed also on the level of what this means for the practice. NA think it is a report that points out a lot of the important challenges ahead and challenges our need for competence.
By Anja Jergel Vestvold, Chair of the Norwegian Society of Records Managers and Archivists (NA)