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Records Management : Effective Information Systems (04 Edition)by Carolyn Ashe
As the 20th century closed and the new millennium was ushered in, many within the global society were fearful of what would happen to computers and other technologies on which we depend. Many businesses and industries were concerned about the safety of data and information stored in records and information management systems and whether they would be able to retrieve the data. The technology worked perfectly, and confidence in records and information management systems increased.
Reflection on the rapid escalation of new technologies has revealed concern about the future. A major problem is the life cycle of records and information management systems. Another major challenge in this new millennium is the effective use and storage of accelerated strides made in science, technology, and medicine during the past half-century. In business, the collecting of meaningful data that could affect crucial management decisions is becoming more difficult because of the masses of data available. In all areas of life, therefore, it is necessary to recognize that the known existence of information on a subject of immediate need does not guarantee that it will be found or available at the right place or time (Vander Noot, 1998).
Other concerns about records and information management systems include the accuracy of workers who input data as well as their ethical practices. Because records management encompasses so many areas of data, some workers may use unethical means for financial gain or to sabotage other employees. Additionally, unethical practices may occur during illegal retrieval or alteration of computer data.
Records and Information Management: History and Evolution
Records and information management may be defined as the professional management of information in the physical form of records. It occurs from the time records are received or created through their processing, distribution, and placement in a storage or retrieval system. They are maintained until eliminated or identified for permanent archival retention. This definition encompasses the life-cycle concept of records and information management. Moreover, the definition acknowledges that these are successful approaches (Robles & Langemo, 1999).
Some of the early history of records and their management were acquired from archival findings of ancient cave dwellers. Painted symbols and drawings on walls and in stone tablets retrieved from caves and areas where ancient people lived revealed that some type of record keeping existed. Although numbers and writing as we know them were not developed, the repetition of objects and arrangement of relics indicate that accounts were being made. Further, these relics and symbols represented the number of valuable possessions or experiences and therefore served as a records and information management system.
After writing and paper were developed, many records were found that validated the belief that a records and information management system has been in process for a long time. However, some paper records had been destroyed because of their short life spans. Therefore, much of the early information found could not be clearly understood. As time passed, various types of papers were developed that lasted longer, making paper the major source of record-keeping for many years. Paper records are still used in all businesses today. Despite the predictions of the past 20 years, the idea of the paperless office is still a myth. Paper is still the primary method for record-keeping, and as we will discuss later, is one of only two types of records that courts will accept as evidence.
The development of microfilm and photography during the middle 19th century constituted a major improvement in records and information management. This development helped to replace some paper-record systems and fostered long-term retention. Microfilm became more valuable as a primary records and information management system in the 20th century, when its storage capability and life expectancy became more widely known as the courts started accepting microfilm instead of paper. The technology revolution that began in the early 20th century brought about computers, which offer tremendous capabilities to improve the functions of records and information management systems (Pemberton, 1998).
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