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Memento : Issue 23
bytes memento may 2003 8 Part of our role is to work with Commonwealth government agencies to determine how long their various records should be kept. Recently we assisted three agencies to develop new disposal authorities for their records. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet manages the Prime Minister's official residences at the Lodge in Canberra and Kirribilli House in Sydney, which are part of the national estate. The Official Establishments Trust advises the government on the operation, conservation and long-term develop- ment of the Prime Minister's residences as well as those of the Governor-General -- Government House in Canberra and Admiralty House in Sydney. In this joint project, departmental staff researched the history of the agencies, interviewed key agency staff and consulted with us. Our role was to ensure that records needed for the future care of the official residences and of continuing historical interest were kept permanently. The National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA) is a small agency that evaluates, registers, regulates and monitors all agricultural and veterinary chemicals used in Australia. Under the NRA's previous authority, records about the registration of these chemicals could be destroyed after 75 years. Under its new records disposal authority, scientific data provided by companies when applying to register a chemical will now be kept for at least 50 years after the chemical has ceased to be used in Australia. For chemicals about which a significant health or environmental issue has arisen, the data will be retained permanently to be available for any future investigations. Thanks to the joint efforts of Archives and agency staff, the records of these agencies will be available for as long as they are needed to protect the interests of all Australians. Records in the public interest New thesaurus guidelines Thesaurus: a storehouse or repository, as of words or knowledge (from Greek thesaorus treasure, treasury) The Greeks felt certain words had special meaning and should be treasured above others. A modern thesaurus does just that. A thesaurus confers authority on some words and removes it from others. When applied to records, a thesaurus helps people to title records and provides key search words to retrieve them. As terminology in an organisation changes, a thesaurus keeps people up to date with the latest valued words. Our updated guidelines Developing a Functions Thesaurus: Guidelines for Commonwealth Agencies will help agencies develop their own thesaurus. The guidelines are available under 'Recordkeeping -- Control and Retrieval' on our website. A new Australian website standard could greatly improve the accuracy of searches for information and services on the Internet. Developed by the National Archives, Standards Australia, the information technology industry and State governments, the standard is designed to make website resources more easily found. The AGLS Metadata Standard (AS 5044) defines 19 elements, or metadata, which can be used to describe web-based information and services. These elements include author, title, subject, audience, function and availability. Originally developed in 1998 for use by government agencies, AGLS has been made an Australian Standard that can be used by anyone wanting to increase their presence on the web. The success of the standard depends on website managers using the specified metadata, and search engines incorporating an appropriate metadata search facility. For more information, visit the AGLS home page at www.naa.gov.au/agls, or to purchase the standard go to www.standards.com.au. >Signposting cyberspace< Kirribilli House, Sydney. NAA: A6135, K6/10/87/20