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veritas Harvard University Library Notes, For Harvard Library Staff, Number 1325 May 2005

Harvard University Library Notes / July 2005 / No. 1326

Records Management Office Honored as Harvard Heroes

On Wednesday, June 15, in a 4 pm ceremony at Sanders Theatre hosted by President Lawrence H. Summers, seven teams and 37 individuals working in a range of programs across Harvard's Central Administration were honored as Harvard Heroes. Among the teams honored was the seven-member Records Management Office (RMO) of the Harvard University Archives.

The RMO seeks to ensure the prudent maintenance and efficient disposition of the records of the University consistent with sound archival standards, budgetary considerations, and legal obligations. Destruction activities are part of an aggressive program of applying existing records schedules or retroactively creating schedules for offices to reduce their costs and, perhaps more importantly, potential liability exposure. Control of semi- and inactive records had long been neglected, with the result that offices had developed large backlogs of stored obsolete records. In the last several years, the RMO staff has tackled the problem.

Their efforts have resulted in a rising volume of records destruction. Over the course of one year, 11,723 items (primarily, if not exclusively, boxes) were withdrawn for a total of 25,908 BSF—a cost savings to the University of about $160,000 a year just in extra storage costs alone. While the RMO staff believes that it has only scratched the surface of this problem, the results to date have been remarkable.

According to University Archivist Megan Sniffin-Marinoff, "Everyone on the Records Management staff has had a hand in this. The analysts—David Best, Skip Kendall, Jennifer Jacobsen, and Jane Zhang—create and interpret records schedules. The operations group—Sharyn Nolan, Susan Dee, and, previously, Lynne Cornwell—assisted offices with prepping materials for transfer, identified materials for destruction, and provided controls to ensure that only appropriate materials were in fact destroyed. The entire Records Management group should be applauded for their tenacious efforts."


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