Competency C Collection

MARA Competency C

Understand the evolution of information recordkeeping systems in response to technological change.

“It is clear that the impacts of technology are varied, a one-size approach to transformation is not possible. What is certain is – change is unavoidable. The ways of working that we have taken for granted are unlikely to survive much longer.”

Carsten Bruhn, Executive Vice President, Ricoh Europe

What do you understand this competency to mean?

“Archivists and librarians can no longer be seen as the gatekeepers to knowledge and information…when every internet user can find more information online than can be held by the predominantly physical spaces of libraries and archives” (Convery, 2011, p.202). We see that our post-modernist society has blown away the traditional foundations of archives: impartiality, authenticity, naturalness, and interrelationship. With the advent of the digital age, records are no longer tied to physical limits, but exist in the infinite space of the web. I believe the challenge I will face as an information professional in the digital age will be to construct networks with my data rather than hierarchical structures (Lane & Hill, 2011).

We live in a rapidly changing, technological environment. The technologies that existed at the outset of my studies have already been outdated and replaced with new solutions. One must be flexible and continue to learn. It is only by becoming a lifelong learner that one can expect to stay at the cutting edge. This competency speaks of evolving information systems in response to technological change. This fact has been at the focus of my research throughout the MARA program. I have been acutely aware of the technological advancement as a new information professional.

Information Science concerns the process of storing and retrieving information. Records and Information Managers [IM] are responsible for the efficient capture, use and control of information about the activities and transactions of an organization (ARMA, 2007). IM aims to control information resources in order to make it easy to find, use, create, manage, and share  within the organization. IM can turn intellectual assets into profit. In the past, having an information technology [IT] infrastructure in place allowed organizations a competitive edge, but now the majority of organizations have built an IT infrastructure that is relatively homogeneous across industry clusters (Carr, 2004). Merely having an IT system in place no longer provides the same benefits.

The evolution of information and recordkeeping systems has been in response to technological change. We have seen how ledgers have been replaced by relational databases. The need for order, and systematic structure has remained, but the methods and manner have changed as the technology has evolved – to paraphrase Terry Cook – what is past is prologue to the amazing, unimaginably fantastical future of information systems.

What course assignments or other work products are you submitting as evidence of your mastery of this competency?

I have chosen several works that present my views about my understanding of the evolution of information management systems in response to technological change. The works explore analog to digital transformations as well as systems for organizing such assets.

Why did you select these particular work products as evidence for your mastery of this competency?

From MARA 211
Hosmer Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Public Library
Digitization of archival objects allows archives and special collections to provide access to their collection to a wider audience. Creating digital finding aids at a collection level and tasking item level description to volunteer interns leads to huge cost savings. The Minnesota Digital Library, in partnership with Minitex, the University of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Historical Society have provided digitization services using heritage funding in an effort to assist public and independent cultural organizations in digitizing their collections.

I wanted to demonstrate a range of knowledge of how record keeping has changed since the 1890s. Minnesota has a rich heritage of libraries, museums, and archival organizations. The Hosmer Special Collection at the Hennepin County Library is the remains of the original Minneapolis Athenaeum, a private subscription-based library organized by a group of businessmen in 1859. The evolution of the collection from collection of rare books and works of art to digitized objects available on the internet demonstrates the arch of technological change. This is evidence of my understanding of “the evolution of information recordkeeping systems in response to technological change.”

From MARA 256
Interview with Monica Ralston, Archival Processing Manager: Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society [MHS] is located in the heart of St. Paul, in the area known as Capitol Hill. The building contains a research library that is free and open to the public. It is split into two areas, one more traditional research library area, where researchers can access or request access to the documents and records of the Minnesota Archives and artifacts in its collections. The other section is the microform room, where one can access MN newspapers and public records.

The MN State Archives are located in the underground storage facilities at the MHS building. They are inaccessible to the public. Researchers must request access to the records through the Library housed at the Historical Society. The MHS was formed as a non-profit organization in 1849. After some fits and starts of Offices of State Archives throughout the 20th century, in 1984, “an administrative reorganization within the MN Historical Society merged the State Archives in the new Division of Library and Archives” (“Our History,” n.d.) that is still in existence today. This report is an overview of how MHS controls its collections and how it delivers it. This report demonstrates my understanding of “the evolution of information recordkeeping systems in response to technological change”

My interview with the archival processing manager at the Minnesota Historical Society took me on a journey of discovery. A small portion of search aids are available online, yet it is the card catalog that still remains as the permanent system of item location deep in the sub-basements of the History Center.

From MARA 249
The operational and collaborative benefits of Digital Asset Management
Digital asset management [DAM] systems share attributes with other enterprise management systems but they are specifically designed to manage digital assets for reuse by an organization. Management of rich media assets is considered especially challenging due to the complexity of the task, the diversity of the digital objects, and the uncertainty of the success of long-term preservation strategies. One of the most identifying features of a DAM system is that the content is valuable to the organization. The assets within the management system are both product and asset. At its core, DAM is all about organization, combining information science and information technology processes, procedures, and policies into a digital workflow. This research demonstrates my understanding of “information recordkeeping systems in response to technological change”

How do your selections show not simply learning but also application?

My professional experiences shows a conscious effort to apply what I have learned in a real-world setting. Both of my experiences have afforded an opportunity to help evolve a new information system. At the ACC, I used analog archives to describe digitized files so that a sample would be available online to entice a viewer to come visit the American Crafts Council Reference Library and Archives. At TIES, I am updated the official records retention schedule [RRS], drafted by the State of Minnesota in 2000, using new revisions of the laws, rules, and regulations. The RRS will be used to manage the records in the database of a Software as a Solution [SAAS] records and document management system.

What have you learned?

Over the last few decades, the need for organizations to actively manage their records and information assets has grown exponentially. It is no longer a matter of choice, for the sake of a competitive edge, or to solely minimize risk. The need for information management has arisen out of a need for cross ­functionality across business units; international trade, local, state, national, and international regulations; and the recognition that information resides in the experience of the individuals that make up the organization.

I do believe we have entered into the age of information (digital age is my preferred term). I think that the Milleniums are the first inhabitants in the digital age. This generation is fundamentally different than those of us who witnessed the growth of the information explosion. It isn’t merely that “more information is available,” it is the change in attitude. Milleniums are always on, always connected. Technology is always important, they exchange information with each other via text messaging, tweets, Facebook updates. They are participating in online communities, authors of Wikipedia articles, commenters on community forums. They Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and are LinkedIn. They organize politically, socially, and as peer educators. We have not only entered into the digital age, we are witness to the “D-generation” of our society.

My challenge as an information professional will be to look at the whole – the gestalt – of the experience to see how access to technology affects the skills of those who need to organize and categorize information. Our society is filled with information age learners. The new mantra of this age is “say no to memorization” and “yes to retrieval.”


ARMA (2007). Glossary of records and information management terms, 3rd Ed. Retrieved from

Carr, N. (2004). Does IT matter? Information technology and the corrosion of competitive advantage. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, Boston, MA.

Convery, N. (2011). Information management, records management, knowledge management: the place of archives in a digital world. In Hill, J. (Ed.) The Future of Archives and Recordkeeping: A Reader (191-212). Facet Publishing, London, UK.

Lane, V. & Hill, J. (2011). Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Situating the archive and archivist. In Hill, J. (Ed.), The future of archives and recordkeeping: a reader (pp. 3-22). Facet Publishing, London, U.K.

Our history (n.d.). At Minnesota Historical Society online. Retrieved from