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ESARBICA Journal: Journal of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives

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Automated Records Management Systems in the ESARBICA Region

Masegonyana Segomotso Keakopa

Abstract


Significant advances have been made in recent years in the study of archives administration and records management. This research stream has seen archives and records management becoming an important theoretical issue receiving considerable attention from researchers within the fields of information management and systems. Many researchers in their contributions have found that archives and records which form a part of a wide range of information resources are as important to organizations as human and financial resources and that their management is important. Equally important is understanding the relationship between “memory” and “archive”, “event “ and the “record”, and “justice” and the “law”. These issues might appear superfluous but evidence from South Africa’s Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights gives credence to the archivist’s need to grapple with these issues.
Computers have increasingly occasioned new dynamics in archives administration and records management. It is evident that the shift is from traditional record keeping systems to computerization and management of electronic records. With increased government activities there has been increased data, and computerization will ensure timely services and easy storage of information. The advent of computers has brought new problems for the archivist in transference from manual systems to automated ones, as it is possible for information to be distorted. As Bearman would have asked, “do electronic records tell the truth?” Attempting to understand the myriad of questions takes us to automating archival information systems and managing electronic records; archival institutions, other organizations, public and private sectors. Automating archival information systems includes assimilating the arcades of memory and hallways of events; conversion of existing records and data. On the other hand, managing electronic records incorporates specifications, strategies and considerations for capturing, handling and accessing such records. Archival institutions were for a long time bastions of old records and have now become banks of information, reservoirs of data and shopfloors for information creators and consumers of information. Latter day archivists work with other professionals such as auditors, systems designers and IT specialists, risk analysts and other stakeholders in both the private and public sectors. For example, IT specialists design systems for the management of electronic records in collaboration with archivists. Information in electronic format has increased dramatically and it will continue to grow as many office transactions that have been paper-based are now performed electronically. With the massive shift from paper to digital information a lot of emphasis has been placed on the management of electronic information. This involves automating services such as online databases and using websites as a source of distribution of key documents such as policies, manuals and other publications.



ESARBICA Journal Vol.21 2002: 41-48



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