Tools for Our Paper Based Heritage

 This is my first posting in a while, as best as I can calculate it has been more than four weeks since my last posting.  It appears that the weddings of children, ARMA activities and work can sometimes take priority.  Fortunately, it has given me time to think a bit about a number of topics. One of those relates to our paper-based heritage in Records and Information Management and the absolute need for practitioners to be aware of the best approaches to (1) paper based filing for active files, (2) records storage that may be onsite or offsite, in-house or outsourced for inactive records and (3) the disposition of records for those records ready to be disposed of.I do see a number of postings on the Records Management Listserv that relate to questions arising in all areas, and I am well aware of some excellent sources that people may overlook in their quest to manage our paper heritage.  Hopefully, I can provide at least a few here – focusing primarily on standards and guides, some ANSI based, some industry based to help those who wish to follow best practices.

The management of paper-based active filing systems has been the subject of numerous books, articles and recommendations over a period of a number of decades.  One starting point to which I would refer those seeking to establish such filing systems would be the ISO Standard entitled “Establishing Alphabetic, Numeric and Subject Filing Systems.  What better place is there to begin than through the use of a standard recognized by ANSI? Link to ARMA Standard on FilingLink to ARMA Standard on Filing Here is a link to that publication within the ARMA International Bookstore for convenience purposes.

In managing inactive records storage facilities, there are a number of excellent sources.  Those sources can provide guidance for Records and Information Managers seeking to evaluate their storage options and those seeking to operate such facilities, based on ISO standards.  First, I would point to another association, the Professional Records & Information Services Management Association (PRISM).  Members typically include those storage organizations that provide outsourced storage of inactive records, vault storage for electronic records, and sometimes offer services including secured destruction management.  PRISM’s “Facility Evaluation Checklist” is readily available on the PRISM web site at the location contained within this link .  Additional resources are available through the ARMA International web site, including the Records Center Operations – A Guideline and the Guideline for Evaluating Offsite Records Storage Facilities .

Finally, we do know that the destruction of records has become a hotter topic, as statutes that are designed to protect individuals from identity theft have come to the fore and as private sector firms place increased emphasis on the protection of their intellectual property.  Fortunately, there is a group to which many organizations belong that focuses its attention on ensuring that its members adhere to some commonly approved practices to ensure that the destruction of records is properly secured.  The National Association for Information Destruction, Inc. (NAID®) has information readily available to those who are Records and Information Managers about those firms that are “certified members” and information regarding the NAID® Certification Program.

Hopefully the above sources will prove helpful to those who stumble across or who check this blog!

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One Response to “Tools for Our Paper Based Heritage”

  1. Hi Doug,

    I’m thrilled I ran across your blog here. Is it alright if I feed it into mine?


    Records Management Consultant

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