Why is recordkeeping important?

'Sustainability' was once being associated with something related to environment only. Narrowly speaking, it was like almost equivalent to environmental protection in some people's mind. 

By now, we know it is much more than just concern about the environment. It is about continuity around all aspects of our living, including civilization and humanity. 

Records show traces of our living. If we want to know how people live their lives a century ago, we might look at records that still exist and are being permanently preserved - photographs, census records, immigration records, passenger lists (examples at The National Archives, UK), motion pictures, etc.

 

Records generated from daily work in an organization - be it government, public or private organizations - provide a trail of work. They serve as evidences of transactions, activities and decisions, that show their accountability and hence trustworthiness.

 

In some cases where there were war crimes involved, records are not just evidences for trials, but also good sources of information for researchers to study world history. See example at The National Archives, UK: Records of War Crimes (1939 - 1945).

To archive, or not to be archived.

According to A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology published by Society of American Archivists in 2005, there are six definitions of archives. Under these definitions, there is the note:

In the vernacular, 'archives' is often used to refer to any collection of

documents that are old or of historical interest, regardless of how they

are organized; in this sense, the term is synonymous with permanent records.

Further to this note, there is further elaboration on the term 'archives' followed by some citations.

Behind the scene, where these 'permanent records' are made useful and meaningful for researchers or simply anyone interested in them, it requires professionals to take care of them. These professionals - archivists - should understand well archival concepts and principles, know the records and record creators, be aware of preservation and conservation issues relevant to different formats of records, and provide access to records or keep closed records confidential. 

 

© 2020 by Jennifer Luk.