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13
retention schedule, however, so there is still
a long way to go.
T
o implement the changes as efficient-
ly as possible, I meet each week with
three or four people who create docu-
ments and analyse both what they are pro-
ducing and how their methods may vary.
Then, step-by-step, the retention schedule is
added to. This task will take a long time to
complete there are as many as 1500 staff
at the BnF who are document creators and
it takes one year to properly analyse around
150 creators, as each requires a report, a
change to the retention schedule and work
on finding aids.
A
t the same time, my team is working
on the procedures of communication
of documents for both BnF staff and the
public. It is pleasing that, in the first three
months, we do have a demand for materi-
al and that we can be accessible enough to
help users of the archives through our new
procedural channels.
T
he tools we use are very helpful in
dealing with such a large institution
and number of items. For instance, as well
as using comparative tools, a great deal of
work can be done using our intranet for
example, analysing and tracking the phas-
es of treatment for each document. We are
currently working on information servic-
es and hope to have implemented an auto-
matic checking system for acquisition by
the end of May, and we are also going to be
perfecting automatic caching for inclusion
of documents in 2005.
O
f course, archiving has changed a lot
in recent years with the advent of
electronic records. E-records create new
challenges they require different manage-
ment styles and techniques, and I hope that
records management continues to evolve to
reflect this. One important concept is the
distinction between records as documents
of proof and records as useful documents.
Many e-documents are extremely useful
and often consulted, but in many institu-
tions are not recorded at all. Here in the
BnF, we are able to record e-mails, but it is
a continuing challenge to make the best use
of the technology we have available. For
example, there is often confusion among
users about the difference between an elec-
tronic document being stored on their local
hard disk or on the intranet. It will involve
a lot of work to create appropriate pro-
cedures and tools for adding metadata to
these documents; people have vastly differ-
ent methods of working, which are totally
unstandardised, so storing these documents
for maximum quality in the long term is
a very difficult task. We will use the exist-
ing system (LotusNotes) to implement the
new teleprocedures; however, it is impor-
tant to remember that the emphasis should
not be on the tools but on enforcing the
procedures and rules themselves, which are
validated by the aims of the institution. We
are working together with staff from the
Department of Preservation to best design
the metadata for e-records we must have
enough information to be able to use the
document again in the future, but not so
much that it is unrealistic to expect peo-
ple to fill it in! Of course, in the future we
will be working on ways to make metada-
ta collection automatic and ways of allow-
ing querying over our intranet (with rights
access), with the useful part of the docu-
ment being stored online.
T
here has been a big change in the
concept of archives and archiv-
ing systems and theories, the traditional
standpoints almost destroyed by the charac-
teristics of electronic records. E-documents
blur the boundaries between the traditional
`ages' of paper records: historical, interme-
diary and current. It is incorrect to apply
these stages so simply to e-documents; they
have a longer current age and we are losing
the intermediary stage. Instead, the current
and historical stages overlap, making the
three-stage theory no longer relevant and
further identifying the need for a different
approach. Research nowadays often con-
centrates on online materials; with many
researchers not checking the paper record
at all, use is changing and so must archiv-
ing standards.
T
his field is changing very quickly and
will continue to do so into the future.
One day, if metadata is created at the point
of the document's creation and is embed-
ded, documents may even be able to live
without us! All of the current archivist's
duties will be incorporated into a persist-
ently identified record. Archivists could
perfect these systems, so our work will
necessarily evolve to concentrate more
on providing help for users, for example,
or quality control, ensuring that the laws
regarding rights are respected. We will, of
course, have to continue to manage the
documents still on paper; all issues cannot
be resolved by automatic systems! There are
always new records being discovered from
abundant sources and on a large scale, and
our work in this area will continue.
A
t the moment, we are just at the
beginning in the BnF, following the
example of other European institutions that
have already begun this process and pro-
vide examples of good practice. It is a chal-
lenge to reach the standards of some other
countries' best institutions, as Latin coun-
tries have traditionally not had the same
management practices. But it is one of the
major aims of the President of the BnF to
`make up for lost time' and we're mak-
ing good progress I hope that in the
future people will look to our work here as
another example of good practice!`
There has been a big change
in the concept of archives and
archiving systems and theo-
ries, the traditional standpoints
almost destroyed by the characte-
ristics of electronic records.