Records management and archives management – a match made in heaven

It is an incontrovertible truth that excellent records management contributes greatly to excellent archives management, at least where government, institutional, and corporate records are concerned (perhaps not so much with the personal records of people that are donated to an archives).  Having an established classification scheme is key to locating and retrieving records in an expeditious manner.  In Managing Records: A Handbook of Principles and Practices, Elizabeth Shepherd and Geoffrey Yeo point out that classification schemes should be based on an analysis of the functions, processes, and activities of an organization.  The classification scheme should not be organized by the various business units composing an organization, as similar activities and functions may occur in many of the offices/departments/centers.  Thus, in order to get a complete picture of the activities of an organization, Shepherd and Yeo write, “the systems used to manage the records of those activities should reflect an organization-wide perspective.”[1]  This information is incredibly relevant to the creation of records here at UT Southwestern, as many offices, departments, and centers across campus may be creating the same types of records. As a records management coordinator for an office/department/center on campus, you may wonder “How do I classify these records?” Referencing UT Southwestern’s records retention schedule can be helpful in bringing a defined order to your office records.

Credit: http://www.oit.edu/faculty-staff/resources/archives-records-management

Our records retention schedule is divided into various categories: administrative files, personnel records, fiscal records, etc. Within these categories is a breakdown of the different “records series” which are relevant to a particular category/sub-category. One records series which should be familiar to many faculty and staff here is the “Administrative Correspondence” records series. We all create administrative correspondence throughout the course of our workday. For example, have you sent an email recently providing your thoughts and ideas on a project your department is working on? Have you distributed an inter-office memo that explains a new policy or procedure? That’s administrative correspondence! According to our records retention schedule, administrative correspondence is maintained for four years from the record’s creation. Upon reaching its four-year mark, the administrative correspondence is then destroyed. However, there is an exception to this retention rule, as explained in the schedule. The administrative correspondence of the Office of the President, senior and vice presidents, the Provost’s Office, Legal Counsel, Internal Audit, and other upper Executive Staff members falls under archival review.

What does “archival review” mean? Archival review is the requirement that the UT Southwestern institutional archivist assess the records of the above designated offices/administrative positions to determine if there are any records of long-term historical value. For example, any correspondence related to the planning of Clements University Hospital is of incredible value to our institution’s history and would be selected for the UT Southwestern Archives.

Smart records management ensures that an institution’s history will be well preserved. UT Southwestern’s records retention schedule does an excellent job of noting which records are permanent and thus should be transferred to the Archives. The schedule also clearly defines those records series

[1] Shepherd, Elizabeth and Geoffrey Yeo. Managing Records: A Handbook of Principles and Practices (London: Facet Publishing, 2002) 74.

What is an archives?

by Catherine Miller, CA, Digital Archivist, UT Southwestern Library

What comes to mind when you hear the word “archives”? Do you immediately picture your email “archive” or an “archive” that you see on a blog site? Or do you think, “Hmmm, archives says to me dust, old stuff, attics, or basements”? Or do you say to yourself, “I have no conception of what that means”? If any of the above is true, then this is an exciting opportunity to introduce you to what an archives is.

To understand what an archives is, it is useful to compare archives and libraries. Indeed, my favorite analogy for explaining the difference between archives and libraries is the following:

“Libraries are to restaurants – AS – Archives are to grocery stores”

When you visit a restaurant, you select a meal from the menu, and the meal is prepared for you: you receive the meal at the restaurant table as a finished product. When you visit a library, you browse the shelves and select a book to read: the book you choose is the synthesized finished product of research from various sources that have been interpreted for you and presented to you in the neatly bound book you hold in your hands. Conversely, when you go to the grocery store, you are getting the raw materials to assemble a meal yourself. For example, the ingredients for an awesome spaghetti dinner include pasta, tomatoes/tomato sauce, onion, green pepper, ground beef, etc. Just as you have to bring together the various materials to make this awesome spaghetti, archives are all about bringing together records from various creators to tell an awesome story. Working in archives, you become the aggregator of information (the cook, so to speak) who is piecing together the records of history so as to tell a story. With archives, you are the interpreter of records, unlike with reading a book, where the information presented has already been interpreted by the author.

Archives contain unique records that a researcher will not find anywhere else. This is a main distinguishing factor between the work of librarians and the work of archivists. Generally, librarians work with published, widely distributed books that you can find in any library.[1] Archivists generally work with non-published materials such as an individual’s personal papers that you will only find at one institution. For example, the UT Southwestern Archives has the records of Dr. Alfred G. Gilman in our Alfred Goodman Gilman Collection. It was donated by Dr. Gilman in December 2012 and contains records which a researcher will only find by visiting the UT Southwestern Archives. The international impact of research is illustrated in one way by the following document that you will only find in the Archives here at UT Southwestern:

Now that you have an idea of what an archives is and how they differ from libraries, here’s a brief introduction to the UT Southwestern Archives. The UT Southwestern Archives is responsible for collecting, processing, preserving, and providing access to the records essential to documenting the administrative, intellectual, and social life of UT Southwestern Medical Center. The Archives is dedicated to documenting:

  1. The mandated functions of UT Southwestern Medical Center and our University Hospitals: education, research, and healthcare delivery
  2. The governance and administration of UT Southwestern Medical Center
  3. The lives of faculty, staff, students, and alumni of UT Southwestern Medical Center
  4. Parkland Memorial Hospital, which has been UT Southwestern’s long-time teaching hospital

The Archives has both institutional records and manuscript collections that contribute to telling the larger story of UT Southwestern’s history. You can learn more about the Archives’ holdings by visiting our webpage. The Archives holds many photographs documenting UT Southwestern’s built environment, research activities, faculty, students, etc. Over 700 of these photos have been digitized and are available to view online in the UT Southwestern Image Archives.

Curious to learn more about the UT Southwestern Archives and about the work that archivists do? Send us your questions at archives@utsouthwestern.edu!

[1] There are exceptions to this rule in the library world, with rare book libraries and special collection libraries being two immediate examples.

#AskAnArchivist Day is Wednesday, October 4th!

The UT Southwestern Archives is very excited for our 2nd annual participation in #AskAnArchivist Day on Wednesday, October 4, 2017.

What is #AskAnArchivist Day?

First, it’s an opportunity for the UT Southwestern community to learn more about the records that document our institution’s history and how those records can be accessed for research purposes.

Second, it’s also an opportunity for Catherine Miller, the Library’s digital archivist, to talk about the work she does in helping to create further understanding about what archives are and what archivists do. Cathy says, “I am especially excited to be talking about the UT Southwestern Archives this year on #AskAnArchivist Day as our institution’s 75th anniversary is on the horizon for next year. UT Southwestern Medical Center has amazing stories to tell and many of those stories can be found in records located in the UT Southwestern Archives.”

For example, did you know that Dr. Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., was the recipient of NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award in 1970? This news release from the Archives tells us that Dr. Montgomery received this award as well as a letter from astronaut James Lovell of Apollo 13 fame!

How does #AskAnArchivist Day work?

It’s simple! Cathy will be available at UT Southwestern Library’s Twitter handle (@utswlibrary) to answer all your archives-related questions. Just send your questions to @utswlibrary using the hashtag #AskAnArchivist. Along with questions from the UT Southwestern community, she will share highlights from the Archives throughout the course of the day.

So start thinking about what questions you’d like to have answered. For example, have you been wondering how to manage your digital files, including email? Puzzling over creating appropriate file naming conventions for your digital records? Worried about digital obsolescence? Curious about digital preservation? Questioning how to preserve your grandmother’s scrapbook? These are all topics Cathy is excited to talk about with you, and she would love to hear questions from you about “all things archives”!

The power of crowdsourcing in libraries and archives

Unidentified photo from the UT Southwestern Collection. https://www.flickr.com/photos/utswlibraryarchives/15412543801/

Crowdsourcing, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” In the library and archives world, crowdsourcing has proven to be an effective tool in helping to identify photographs, transcribe documents, and provide other descriptive information that helps libraries and archives to increase the discoverability of and access to their materials.

Crowdsourcing is a popular method for archives to identify people, places, and events in photographs. Many eminent institutions – e.g., the Library of Congress – have harnessed the power of crowdsourcing and Flickr to aid in the identification of photographs through the launch of the Flickr Commons project. A 2008 Newsweek article highlighted that within 24 hours of the project’s launch, “all 3,115 images had been viewed at least once (with 650,000 total views), more than 500 pictures had received comments, and 4,000 unique tags had been added.”

Following in the model of the Library of Congress’s Flickr Commons project, the UT Southwestern Archives has a Flickr account, and we upload photos to that account from our UT Southwestern Collection for which we have little to no identifying information. You may wonder: Why are we putting this call for information out on the Flickr-verse? Don’t we know everyone in the photos? What about the date of and location where the photo was taken? The answer is: We would love to!

This opens up the conversation about the importance of metadata at the point of creation of a photograph. What is metadata? Put simply, it is data about data. A simple example of metadata is writing a name, date, or description on the back of a photograph (or included with the photograph and recorded on a separate piece of paper). To carry this example into the digital age, born-digital photographs can have descriptive metadata easily embedded in them with software applications like Adobe Bridge.

An example of metadata: we know who took this photo and when it was taken. Source: Repository: University Archives, University of Miami. Collection: University of Miami Historical Photograph Collection. http://merrick.library.miami.edu/cdm/ref/collection/umiscel/id/28

If metadata is not associated with a photograph at the beginning, even the best investigative archivist will struggle to identify the people, places, and events in photographs. To help with this, many archives utilize crowdsourcing to help identify photographs in their holdings. Here are a few examples:

With the 75th anniversary of UT Southwestern approaching, the UT Southwestern Archives is going through many photos in our collections, including these mystery photos. Excited to help the archives in their crowdsourcing endeavors? Get started today by visiting our Flickr page and browsing through the images. See anyone you know? Have other information to share about a photo? Leave a comment!

Want to learn more about the UT Southwestern Archives? Visit our webpage here and send any questions you may have to us at archives@utsouthwestern.edu.

“We’re on the move!”: Library relocates archive and history materials

St. Paul Hospital on Harry Hines Blvd., babies in incubators being moved into new building (1963)

Like the St. Paul nurses in the photo above, Library staff will soon be moving some precious cargo of our own! The UT Southwestern History of Medicine and Archives Collections are in the process of being shifted to different locations. The archives’ records are currently stored in multiple library locations. This move will result in most of the UT Southwestern Archives being consolidated into one storage space, which will provide easier records processing and reference services. (Quick archival education side note: “Processing” is the arrangement, description, and housing of archival materials for storage and use by patrons.) Additionally, a local area is being renovated for other materials.

In preparation for the move, Library staff have been re-housing archives materials into acid-free folders and placing these folders in acid-free boxes. It is general practice in archives to house unbound documents in acid-free, lignin-free, buffered file folders, which are then stored in chemically-stable document storage boxes. These improvements are important steps toward ensuring a better preservation environment for the thousands of records that document the institutional history of UT Southwestern.

During the move, reference services for the archives will be temporarily placed on hold. While our physical archives are moving, don’t forget about the access you have to the archives via various online resources.

  • Our UT Southwestern Image Archives collection has over 700 photos documenting the history of UT Southwestern and 300 photos detailing Dallas’ medical history.
  • The UT Southwestern Institutional Repository is an amazing source of information for accessing some Medical Student Research Forum posters and other student publications, historical UT Southwestern documents, Grand Rounds materials, and much more!

Other activities requiring the archives may also be suspended or delayed; we will keep you updated via social media and through the Library News blog. Stay tuned, however, for we will be holding an archives grand “re”-opening for UT Southwestern faculty, researchers, students, and staff once the move is completed.

Questions? Contact the archives at archives@utsouthwestern.edu.

2017 Medical Student Research Forum posters now available online

Posters presented at the 55th Annual UT Southwestern Medical Student Research Forum are now available through the UT Southwestern Institutional Repository’s Annual Medical Student Research Forum Collection, along with a booklet containing information on all posters.

Beginning in 1962, the UT Southwestern Medical Student Research Forum is an annual event celebrating research conducted by UT Southwestern medical students. The event is open to any medical student who participated in research, whether through the Summer Research Program or a yearlong program like HHMI.

For the last four years, presentation posters have been submitted to the Institutional Repository collection. Each publicly-available poster in the collection includes additional descriptive information, as well as a citation formatted according to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition, which can be used with CVs or in various applications.

For questions about contributing content in general to the UT Southwestern Institutional Repository, contact Cameron Kainerstorfer at archives@utsouthwestern.edu.

“National Clean Off Your Desk Day” + “National Clean Out Your Inbox Week” + records management = fun!

Credit: Highsmith, Carol M.,

Credit: Highsmith, Carol M., “Cluttered desk at the historic Harrison Brothers Hardware Store, Huntsville, Alabama,” Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.16835

I know what you’re thinking…how could the combination of cleaning off your desk, cleaning out your inbox, and managing records be fun? Well, I’m here to tell you!

Spring cleaning is not just for straightening up your house – it can be for the office, too! And it doesn’t have to be done in the spring! The month of January is a busy month where “spring” cleaning of your office records are concerned.

January 9, 2017, is National Clean Off Your Desk Day, and January 23-27, 2017, is National Clean Out Your Inbox Week. Now, you may think these days are solely about being able to see the surface of your desk again and not having thousands of emails bulking up your Outlook account. However, they also provide a wonderful opportunity for records management and archives professionals to talk about the importance of managing records and archives.

What is “records management”? The Society of American Archivists defines it in its glossary as “the systematic and administrative control of records throughout their life cycle to ensure efficiency and economy in their creation, use, handling, control, maintenance, and disposition.” All records have a life cycle that ends with either the record’s destruction or the record’s transfer to an institutional archives.

Records management can be overwhelming. Thankfully, UT Southwestern’s Materials Management Department, who manage administrative records retention on campus, has some helpful resources to which we can refer. The Open Drawer newsletter provides essential information about how to manage your UT Southwestern administrative records, including email. The June 2015 issue is especially relevant to this month’s “National Clean Off Your Desk Day”, as it provides useful hints on how to analyze the records you have to help you dispose of them and organize them into a filing system that allows you to efficiently and effectively locate records. As the newsletter notes: “Regularly decluttering unnecessary papers will pay off in time savings the next time you are searching for a document.”

April 2015’s Open Drawer speaks right to “National Clean Out Your Inbox Week” as the entire issue is dedicated to email management. UT Southwestern employees will also find that reviewing the resources linked from the Records Retention webpage on the Intranet and the Records Retention Schedule will be helpful in guiding them to make decision about the records they have created and how long they need to be retained.

Regarding email management, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s The Texas Record blog has several posts UT Southwestern employees may find informative at the following link: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/blog/tag/email/. One post of especial relevance to “National Clean Out Your Inbox Week” is the FAQ on how to set up an email filing system. And no blog post discussing records management would be complete without a records management comic:

recordsmanagementgetsautomated1-colour-32

Credit: Lappin, James, “Automated Records Management,” Thinking Records blog, https://thinkingrecords.co.uk/2013/09/24/automated-records-management/

So what does all this talk about managing the records on your physical and virtual desktop have to do with archives, you ask? Isn’t this just records management, plain and simple? Well, that is the magic of records management – it is uniquely tied to the goals of archives management! An effective records management program results in an effective archives management program because you have ensured that records of temporary value are disposed of when their designated retention period ends while records of permanent, historical value to the university are preserved and maintained so that they may be accessed far into the future. This is why records retention schedules are so important and abiding by them cannot be stressed enough: they are the roadmap that ensures that temporary records are destroyed when needed while permanent records are transferred and preserved in the archives. Ensuring that the records of long-term, historical value are maintained in an institution’s archives is a necessary component to that institution being able to tell its story to future generations.

Need more help getting advice about clearing your desk off? For records management related questions, you can find contact information on the Intranet’s Records Retention page. Curious to learn more about UT Southwestern’s archives? Email us at archives@southwestern.edu.

St. Paul Hospital and the Daughters of Charity Exhibit at South Campus Library

stpaulThe UT Southwestern Medical Center Health Sciences Digital Library and Learning Center is proud to present an exhibit highlighting the history of St. Paul Hospital and the Daughters of Charity. The selected images, which will be on display through January 2017 at the South Campus Library, were originally displayed in one of the conference rooms at St. Paul Hospital.

The Library has an extensive collection of archival materials documenting the history of St. Paul Hospital and the Daughters of Charity. The collection was transferred to the Library in 2008 and includes newsletters, pamphlets, departmental files, newspaper clippings, patient registers from the hospital’s founding, photographs, and more. Materials about the St. Paul Nursing School, which operated from 1900 to 1970, are also part of this archival collection.

Visit the online UT Southwestern Image Archives to view over 200 images that document the history of St. Paul Hospital and the Daughters of Charity. The collection is also available for research and educational purposes. Contact archives@utsouthwestern.edu to schedule an appointment.

Color, share, and celebrate Picture Book Month in November!

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An 1835 illustration featured in the National Library of Medicine’s #ColorOurCollections Coloring Book.

Art Therapy, Adult Coloring Books and Your Mental Health

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a mental health profession in which the process of making and creating artwork is used to “explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem.”

The Health Benefits of Adult Coloring Books

Despite the fact that coloring and art therapy aren’t quite the same thing, coloring does offer a slew of mental benefits. Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus, or bring [about] more mindfulness. Groundbreaking research in 2005 proved anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored mandalas, which are round frames with geometric patterns inside. Simply doodling, though, had no effect in reducing the other subjects’ stress levels.

Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art. Now get coloring!

The South and North Campus Branch Libraries will have coloring stations with crayons and pages of science and medical related material for you to enjoy this month.

Download these free science and medical-related coloring books featured at the Library coloring tables this month:

Follow the Library’s Facebook or Twitter page for a daily page to color from these collections.

Rare Book Room Open House: October Spotlight—History of the Nobel Prizes

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The Health Sciences Digital Library & Learning Center invites you to attend our next open house event entitled “October Spotlight—History of the Nobel Prizes”. This event, which is open to the UT Southwestern community*, will be held in the Library’s Rare Book Room (E3.314D) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on two different days to accommodate a wider variety of visitors:

  • Tuesday, October 25
  • Friday, October 28

Featured material from the Library’s special collections and archives will be on display, including photographs, documents, books, and other items highlighting discoveries in science and medicine with connections to the Nobel Prizes since they were founded.

For more information, email archives@utsouthwestern.edu.

*The South Campus (main) Library requires a UT Southwestern ID badge for entry.