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Memento : Issue 19
january 2002 memento 7 While working on a research project I recently came across an interesting file title that I thought might refer to a relative of mine. The file called 'Verses and sketches by Miss Francis Sherman' was part of a series of general correspondence of the Press Division, Department of Information, dated 1939--46. Opening the file, I expected to find some wartime verses and sketches penned by my great-aunt! Imagine my disappointment when all I found were two letters referring to the enclosure of Miss Sherman's verses and sketches of 'Schmitt the Spy and Saboteur', but the items themselves were missing. If you've undertaken research in archives, you may have had a similar experience of not finding what you expect or finding items in places where they don't belong. So why don't file titles always reflect what lies between the covers? Why do some files contain hundreds of duplicate copies, yet others are missing crucial evidence? The answer lies in the past when government agencies had no recordkeeping standard to follow, and there was no concept of holistic information management. With the introduction of the Archives' new recordkeeping products, standards and training since 1999, all that has changed. One of these tools for agencies is called DIRKS -- Designing and Implementing Recordkeeping Systems -- a step-by-step methodology that guides Commonwealth government agencies in setting up systems for managing records, from creation to custody. Researchers of the future should be spared some of the trials we have experienced. If agencies follow the new methodology, the files we view in the future will be titled consistently and accurately. Crucial documents will be retained on file and other records, such as duplicate copies, will be disposed of when no longer required. Unfortunately for me, the Department of Information in the 1940s was not renowned for good recordkeeping. In his book The Government and the People 1942--1945, Sir Paul Hasluck described this department as 'by far the untidiest and administratively the most incompetent Department in the Public Service if the state of its files can be taken as evidence. It fell far below the usual standard both in recording what it did and in the custody of its records'. If only they had DIRKS back then -- I might have found my great-aunt's literary endeavours. Keyword AAA -- a new look By now, all agencies licensed to use the Keyword AAA thesaurus should have received a CD-ROM containing the Commonwealth modified version. The original thesaur us developed by the NSW State Records Authority was modified for Commonwealth agency use as a result of research for the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority issued by the Archives last year. If you have not received the thesaurus or taken advantage of our free licensing arrangements for this new product please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. e-permanence made e-asy Designed for the busy public service manager, e-permanence made e-asy is a pocket guide to strategic records management and our e-permanence suite of products and services. To receive a free copy email us on email@example.com or telephone (02) 6212 3610. Recordkeeping training The DIRKS training is being reviewed to bring it into line with the revised DIRKS Manual and to incorporate our experience in implementing the DIRKS methodology. The revised training is expected to begin in February 2002. The 'Training for Commonwealth Recordkeepers' course (which includes sentencing training) will also be reviewed. The revised training will also include training in the use of our new online system for making lending requests, transfer proposals and searching for information. For updates, please see our training calendar under 'Recordkeeping' on our website at www.naa.gov.au. You can't judge a file by its cover Sonya Sherman from our recordkeeping area recently discovered first-hand the perils and pitfalls of file titling as it was practised in the past.