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Records Management FAQ

> What is a record?

"A record, in archival terms, is a document regardless of form or medium created, maintained and used by an organization, or individual in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business, of which it forms a part or provides evidence.

> What is the difference between a record and a document?

A document is a unit of recorded information. It becomes a record when it is used in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.

> What is Records Management?

In more recent times referred to as RIM (Records and Information Management), it is that area of general administrative management concerned with achieving economy and efficiency in the creation, maintenance, use and disposal of records of an organisation; and making the information contained in those records available in support of the business of that organisation.

> Why is RIM important?

Records created in the course of an organization's business transactions are a vitally important asset. They provide authentic and reliable evidence of those transactions. This integrity is of instant value to the creating department in managing its own affairs and for accountability - to auditors, shareholders and to the public. No government or organization can possess a collective memory and operate effectively without the practice of efficient record keeping. Citizens also have a general right to obtain information about the activities carried out by departments and organizations acting on their behalf. This right is essential for democratic accountability and also if public bodies are to be subject to informed public scrutiny. However, it must also be recognized that the individual citizen has a right to privacy concerning personally sensitive data supplied in confidence to government or private organizations. Adherence to the requirements of Freedom of Information legislation, or any applicable legislation is essential.

Researchers, academic historians and students will make use of historical records to study the policies and actions of the organizations themselves but also for genealogy and other exploitive endeavours. Good records management can help a government achieve the following: policy objectives, a stronger economy, improved social services and health care, good governance, world class education, improved communication and infrastructure, sustainable natural resources and generally improved service to its citizens.

> Who is the Chief Records Management Officer of the Virgin Islands?

Verna Penn Moll. Click here for more about the Chief Records Management Officer.

> What is a records centre?

A building specially designed or adapted for the low-cost storage and maintenance of semi-current records pending their ultimate destruction or transfer to an Archives repository.

> I'm not a records manager, why should I care?

Actually, we are all records managers to some degree. Whether in our personal lives or professional careers, we all manage records of some sort whether they are emails, bills, checks, vouchers, correspondence, proposals, music, videos, photographs or any other document that records what we do in our daily lives. As such, learning solid records management techniques can help enhance the quality of our life and those around us by giving us skills that make us more efficient, effective and helpful in whatever we do.

> What are some other professional careers in Records Management?

As the Records Management Unit is small and the RM programme is still in its fledgling stages, the following is a list of the career posts one could eventually expect to see operating in the Virgin Islands:

> Chief Archivist and Records Manager (Director of the National Archives)
> Government Archivist (Deputy Director)
> Government Records Manager (Deputy Director)
> Records Centre Supervisor
> Archivist’s Assistant
> Records Management Assistant
> Micrographics Technician
> Conservator
> IT Manager

In larger countries such as the United States the United Kingdom, Australia, Belize, Canada and elsewhere, there are numerous career posts and specializations that one can pursue in Archives and Records Management. The following links can help you explore more of them:

Archives FAQ

> What is the difference between archives and Archives?

With respect to "archives" these are records, usually but not necessarily non-current records, of continuing value selected for permanent preservation. "Archives" usually refers to the building (or part thereof) and the systems of administration and/or management for the preservation and consultation of the "archives".

> Why are archives important?

Records of permanent historical and cultural value are stored in The Archives; the mandate of which is to serve as the official repository to preserve, arrange, describe and subsequently make available the records in its care for research and reference.
Since these records tell the story of the Virgin Islands and its people, access to them is imperative for various reasons such as: to act as evidence in court cases; verification of dates of birth, death and other personal or public events; ownership of land; property boundaries; chronicling historical events for educational materials; genealogical research etc.

> Are there archivists in the Virgin Islands?

Yes. Christopher Varlack was hired as the first Government Archivist in September 2007. Additionally, the Chief Records Management Officer is also an archivist and the Archives Project Coordinator. Furthermore, while the Archives was under the care of the Public Library from the 1980’s to 2004, Chief Librarian Bernadine Louis and Library staff member Janice Blyden fulfilled Archivist tasks.

> What do archivists do?

Archivists are people professionally occupied in the administration and/or management of archives

> How does an Archivist differ from a Records Manager?

While similar, the jobs differ since records managers are usually responsible for records from the creation of the record to the disposal (destruction or transfer to the Archives). Archivists are typically responsible for records transferred to the Archives and are concerned with the appraisal of records, their permanent preservation and the administration of their availability for consultation.

> Aren't the Archives similar to a library?

Unlike libraries where patrons are permitted to browse through stacks and borrow books, Archives normally do not allow access to storage areas by researchers, nor are researchers allowed to take irreplaceable records out on loan.

> What's the difference between the National Archives and the National Records Centre?

Although there is a distinction between a Records Centre and Archives, successful National Archives programmes manage records through their entire life cycle. In the Virgin Islands it has been recommended that the National Archives and the National Records Centre be housed on the same property so the management continuum is unhindered by distance between facilities.

> Who are the Friends of the National Archives?

The Friends of the National Archives is a voluntary organization that provides support and assistance as required for developing the National Archives. There is also a National Archives Ad-Hoc committee that was established to advise the staff of the National Archives. Click here for more information on the Friends of the National Archives.

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