Records Management isn’t one of those careers featured on career day in elementary schools. That is normally reserved for community careers such as postal carriers, police, firefighters, and teachers. I sort of wandered into it myself. I bet it is like that for many of my records management colleagues.
I hadn’t planned on getting into records management as a career. But, I have always appreciated the beauty of keeping things in order. Even today when my home or office gets disheveled, I can feel my anxiety level rise. Order just feels good, what can I say?
I remember as a little girl going on a Take Your Daughter to Work day with my mom. I was fascinated with her typewriter, file folders with their sticky labels and desk. But, that did not immediately translate into a career in records management. I actually pursued and obtained a degree in history because I loved to hear real stories about people.
So, how did I get into records management? Well, I had been pursuing a career in history, which led me to work on an archival project at Hunter College in New York City. Under the tutelage of Idilio Gracia-Pena, former New York City Commissioner of Records, I learned how to process archival government records. Over the course of 7 years we converted the pile of dusty boxes into beautiful gray archival boxes with descriptive labels on their spines. We entered inventories of the boxes into an Access database, and periodically backed it up on a Zip drive (anybody remember those?). During my time with Idilio, he encouraged me to get my Masters of Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute. I followed his advice and obtained my degree.
My first professional gig after obtaining my Masters, was with the Episcopal Church headquartered in New York City. It felt familiar, in that they had a record backlog of hundreds of boxes piled high in 2 basements. With the help of Mark Duffy, the Director of the Episcopal Archives, and a team of assistants I hired, we were able to identify, organize, rehouse the records we needed to retain and dispose of items as needed. In less than a year, we had created a new records center with tidy rows of boxes that had been indexed. Joy!
So, if you find you have a kid who likes order, loves their label maker, and has a penchant for creating inventories, you might have a records manager on your hands.
Nitza Medina-Garcia, Certified Records Manager, Records and Information Management Consultant
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