Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Managing your personal records

Archivist, manage thy records!

Spring -- a season long associated with cleaning and, at least in the United States, the filing of income taxes -- always brings forth a bouquet of news articles outlining just how long individuals should keep specific types of financial records. However, Jennifer Saranow Schultz's New York Times article, "Keep Your Financial Records No Longer Than You Must," really bears checking out. In addition to bearing a title guaranteed to make any records manager swoon with delight and providing a succinct overview of what to keep and what to toss, it provides some valuable advice for those of us who have become accustomed to banking online and to storing our records electronically: don't rely upon the online systems of banks and brokerages, remember that the Internal Revenue Service generally prefers paper records, and remain mindful of the security and accessibility concerns associated with electronic recordkeeping.

And for those of you hoping to partake of another popular springtime activity -- falling in love -- Debby Herbenek over at Gizmodo addresses a question of interest to ever-increasing numbers of heartbroken people: "Who Gets Custody of Shared Digital Memories When You Break Up?" Nowadays, one doesn't have to destroy photos in order to keep them out of an ex's hands; in our Web 2.0 world, a defriending or change of account permissions is all it takes. Herbenek recommends "that people save copies of photos they want" or ask their significant others for duplicates "while things are still good." I would suggest remaining single, which really will reduce the chance that you'll one day mourn the loss of your photos, your will to live, your sanity, or anything else; if this sentiment seems a bit tart to you, just wait until you see some of the crude responses to Herbenek's post!

Now if you'll excuse me, I really should do something about the box pictured above, which is an artifact of an unplanned and chaotic move a few years back. After a few years of not dealing with it, I decided that, even though it's not good records management practice, I could discard just about everything in the box if I just held onto it long enough. Judging from Saranow Schultz's article, "long enough" has arrived.

5 comments:

C in DC said...

I've often thought that MARAC should offer a "personal records management" for archivists workshop.

terryx said...

Oh dear. So young, so cynical . . .

But thanks for a great article. I often get questions about personal records; this might make a good Archives Month handout.

Quran said...

Keeping records is not a big work to do, it's only managing it orderly. And it should be done regularly if not then all the records mixes with each other and after then it is difficult to manage it.

Quran said...

it should be done regularly if not then all the records mixes with each other and after then it is difficult to manage it

records management said...

While researching digital records management, your post made me smile :) I must say I try to handle whatever I can online and keep the hard-copy records to a bare minimum. Howver even so I ended up with several imperfectly sorted portfolios...