Competency D Collection

MARA Competency D

Have expertise in the basic concepts and principles used to identify, evaluate, select, organize, maintain, and provide access to records of current and enduring value.

“New professionals in archives and records management must break new ground. We are not living in the age of paper anymore. Our methods MUST change. We need to come out of our storerooms and back offices and step into the light. We need to lead the way.”

Don Burke (March 13, 2012). “Social enterprises: A changing information landscape,” SLIS Colloquia presentation.

What do you understand this competency to mean?

I started this program with one foot firmly planted in the past, yet I will most likely hold a job after graduation that didn’t even exist in 2011. The changing face of technology has many wondering about authenticity – how can a record be a record if there is more than one? Can a record exist in two places at the same time? Will a digital record be considered valid if called into question by a regulatory body? Susan Healy, a records manager from the UK that worked on the committee to develop ISO 15489(1): Information and documentation – Records Management, thinks the standard “presents a workable compromise” by defining what characterizes a record (and a record system – e.g. a SaaS provided by a data center). She states that authoritative records possess “authenticity, reliability, integrity, and usability,” further, records systems that support authoritative records possess “complementary characteristics of reliability, integrity, compliance, comprehensiveness and [are] systematic” (2010, p. 100).

A paperless office will never exist, but I have witnessed the transition from paper to electronic records in my current organization throughout the course of my studies. As a consequence of the fluidity in a digital records environment, digital records and digital record types complicate matters. Networks, servers, backup tapes, databases, both site-based and in-the-cloud, are vulnerable to neglect and passive recordkeeping policies. It is important for records managers to identify, control and ensure ongoing accessibility to an organization’s records. When recordkeeping responsibilities are well-defined and business systems are in place that can actively manage records, an environment is created where good digital recordkeeping practices become a natural part of business, the norm, rather than something extra.

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

I have chosen three works that cover the basic concepts and principles used to identify, evaluate, select, organize, maintain, and provide access to records of current and enduring value. The Voyages Trans-Atlantic Slave Database demonstrates the core concepts from the point of view of an archives, while the Records Retention Schedule for John Roberts approaches this competency holistically, from the perspective of a records manager. The Business case for a fictional pharmaceutical company, Kharmaceuticals, applies these concepts and principles to my research focus: knowledge and asset management.

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

From MARA 204
Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
This paper examines the web site Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. The database is a result of a decades-long, international, collaborative effort to compile a complete as possible dataset of archival records from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. It contains about 35,000 transatlantic slave ship crossings providing scholars with a more complete look at the economic and political dimensions of the slave trade. The database is open access, and contains images, maps and reproductions of the archival documents. The community is invited to contribute their own research or make corrections to the database. The project is funded by large grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities in both the United States and the United Kingdom. The Voyages This is evidence of the concept and principles of maintaining, and providing access to records of current and enduring records.

From MARA 210
John Roberts Record Retention Schedule
The John Roberts Company is a full-service commercial printing company located in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. John Roberts presented an interesting and challenging subject for the development of a records management schedule. In addition to the expected records generated by the human resource, payroll, and accounts receivable/payable, a modern commercial printer generates a multitude of digital-born records. Employees in a modern print shop are expected to use an estimating/job ticket software system to track jobs through the shop. These software packages analyze and monitor job ticket activities so that estimating can be continually adjusted to reflect accurate costs for specific job activities. The company also has inventory monitoring services in place. John Roberts also must track its ISO 9001 certification for quality management system for auditing purposes to maintain that standard (ISO, 2011). This is evidence of my “expertise in the basic concepts and principles used to identify, evaluate, select, organize, maintain, and provide access to records of current and enduring value.”

From MARA 249
Kharmaceuticals Business Case: Electronic Records Management Program
Kharmaceuticals is a large, international pharmaceutical corporation that has regional business units spread across several continents and multiple jurisdictions. Our company is not only involved in pharmaceutical research, we also produce and manufacture pharmaceutical solutions to help our communities live better through Kharmaceuticals®. The unique challenges posed by the pharmaceutical industry at this time demands that Kharmaceuticals develop a solution to manage records and information more effectively in order to mitigate risk. The company is facing unprecedented pressure from legal and regulatory bodies in an increasingly litigious environment. This requires that the records being produced by our organization are secure, authentic, reliable, and useable (Vednere, 2009). We also must protect our intellectual assets and research document from unauthorized access, usage, and/or dissemination (Brett, 2006). This is evidence of my “expertise in the basic concepts and principles used to identify, evaluate, select, organize, maintain, and provide access to records of current and enduring value.”

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

I have tried to present a range of examples that show that not only do I understand how records are “identified, evaluated, selected, organized, maintained” by organizations, I see how organizations use their strategic planning to guide these choices. Of extreme importance are the records showing evidence of fulfillment of legal obligations, and having a information governance program that will “mitigate risk and costs related to legal actions or regulatory compliance issues” (Stackpole, 2012, para. 1).

At the same time, I have spent much of my research focusing on Digital Asset Management [DAM], which focuses more on “organizing, maintaining, and providing access to records [and assets] of current and enduring value.” This focus is as important to allow organizations to leverage “information as a core business asset, thereby enabling better decision making” (Stackpole, 2012, para. 3).

What have you learned?

I have used my knowledge of Competency D in my professional project as well as my internship. In an archival organization, I was able to identify and evaluate which resources were most appropriate to the target audience to provide access to and long term preservation on the OCLC database. In a cloud-based software-as-a-service environment, I am verifying the records retention schedule and identifying the metadata element that will be used to trigger the disposition action. I am thrilled to use my skills in both in archival and records related organizations.


Brett, C. (2006). Demand for a comprehensive, compliant enterprise records management program is clear. AIIM E-Doc Magazine, (20)6, 32. ABI/INFORM

Healy, S. (2010). ISO 15489 Records management: Its development and significance.  Records Management Journal (20/1), 96-103.

International Organization for Standardization (2011). ISO 9001:2008. Retrieved from

Stackpole, B. (October 2012). Case for information governance strategy goes beyond mitigating risks. TechTarget. Retrieved from

Vednere, G. (2009). The building blocks of a global records management program. Information Management (May/June) 35-39.