Competency A

Articulate the ethics, values, and foundational principles of archives and records management professionals and appreciate the important role record keepers play in social memory and organizational accountability

Interpretation

This competency emphasizes the important role that archives and recordkeeping has held in the past and will continue to hold in the future. While the specific responsibilities might change and the records transform, the core values and duties remain the same – ethically protect the information of the past, present and future so that others may enjoy, learn, and gain from it.

As a future records and information manager or archivist I have looked towards two main organizations for principals, ethics, and values – ARMA and Society of American Archivists (SAA). Both have guided my learning in conjunction with MARA concepts and have helped me establish a solid foundation that will guide my professional career. While there are many ethics statements on which these professions are based, I personally feel that trust is one of the most important. In our roles we are trusted to protect objects and information that are of value. We are trusted to make decisions without bias and personal conviction. We are trusted to develop policies that will further an organization, culture or society. We are trusted to stay current in technological advances and legislative changes in the field. We are trusted to provide access while still protecting privacy. We are trusted to safeguard the integrity of a document so that it can maintain its relevance, original appearance, or legal authority. I believe much of the power of a RIM professional or archivist lies in the trust of the people in which they serve. Trust is not to be taken for granted and the maintenance of this principle is of utmost importance for our profession.

Supporting Evidence

MARA 200 Final Paper – Amanda Stowell

The position of archivist or record keeper has changed significantly over the centuries, but the fact remains that the position is one of great power, influence, and importance. While it has not always been recognized as such, and is often a forgotten position in our current society, the archivist and record keeper are vital to the preservation of our culture and serve as guardians of our past, present, and future. This work submitted meets the expectations of the competency by demonstrating my understanding of the pivotal role of the archivist and record keeper, the ethics and values that must be exhibited, and the importance of finding the balance between privacy and transparency.

MARA 200 Introduction to ARMA – Amanda Stowell

This work, Introduction to ARMA, highlights the importance of this highly influential organization in the fields relating to RIM. ARMA is pivotal in the creation of standards and guidelines and is a go-to source for legal compliance and ethical dilemmas. Through the work of its members, ARMA develops standards that are recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Additionally, they have published the GAR Principles which are useful in the development of a successful and compliant records management program. I feel this piece satisfies the competency in that it emphasizes my awareness of ARMA and its value to the recordkeeping and management field.

I believe the selected works to fulfil the competency as they demonstrate my understanding of the origins or archives and record keeping and the complexities that remain in the profession, including keeping a balance between privacy and transparency, maintaining an ethical position, upholding the values, and abiding by the principles.

Conclusion

I have not only learned about the power and importance of the archival and record keeping roles, but I have been able to apply them in my current position as a museum archives intern. In this position I spend over half of my time cataloging objects in the collection in order to make them available to the general public through our online interface. One the most fascinating experiences for an archivist is the discovery of a unique, obscure, or rare object. At the museum, with the intake of many especially varied donations, locally and nationally, our archive has the opportunity to experience such instances any time we meet a potential donor or open a donor shipment. At times the object is so unique that the donor does not know its origin, when it was created, or even what it is. An archivist must resort to subject experts and at our museum this can often come in the form of our tremendously knowledgeable volunteers. Additionally, online research through word, phrase, and image searches frequently yield just enough information to fine-tune the search and can subsequently lead to a positive identification.

Recently, we received the donation of an Auto Meter Competition Tach Model #339-8 complete and in its original box. The donor had received it as part of a trade and had made multiple attempts to determine the age of the tachometer through online searches for the model number or image. This was made even more difficult by the fact that the model number was three digits and Auto Meter began using four-digit model numbers in the 80s. He finally resorted to contacting Auto Meter directly to which they determined that it was early 70s technology and was cutting edge drag racing tech for the period. The most excellent end to this story is that now as part of our collection and subsequently cataloged and uploaded into the online catalog, this Auto Meter Competition Tach Model #339-8 is now searchable on the internet with a corresponding image.

Through this course and the rest of the MARA program, I have learned that archives hold great power in the preservation of societal memory and those in control of the archives have the ability to alter the memories of the future generations. With that being said, it is a great honor and responsibility to hold an archival position as the actions taken or not taken can impact the future.