Electronic Information Media and Records Management Methods

A Survey of Practices in United Nations Organizations

by Tora K. Bikson, Sally Ann Law


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The rapid and widespread diffusion of electronic information and communication media has presented significant challenges for archives and records management in United Nations organizations. Traditional practices devised primarily to handle paper-based record material are not readily extended to these new media. ACCIS (Advisory Committee for the Co-Ordination of Information Systems) identified the need for United Nations organizations to develop policies and procedures directly applicable to record material in electronic form. Developing such policies and procedures requires an understanding of the kinds of practices emerging within United Nations organizations as the use of electronic information and communication technologies grows. This Note reports on a survey undertaken to supply that understanding. The survey addresses four main content areas related to problems of records management in an electronic information environment: (1) the roles of three electronic media — telex, facsimile, and electronic mail — in organizational information handling systems; (2) the properties of computer-based information exchange among organizations that have introduced electronic mail; (3) associated technology options and constraints, as well as standards that have been adopted or are being considered; and (4) policies, guidelines, training programs, and plans United Nations organizations are implementing with respect to electronic records management issues.

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