Social Media and the Ohio Electronic Records Committee

By Janice Schulz

Ever since those lovely punch cards were introduced to organizations as a business tool in the 1940s, records managers have faced unique dilemmas, challenging us to fit new electronic methods into our old models of recordkeeping or to come up with new ways of managing information and technologies. Admittedly, the lightning fast pace of technological advancement oftentimes catches us unaware and we end up backtracking and trying to catch up after realizing that the new media is producing information that needs to be managed. From punch card automation to mainframes to personal computers to mobile devices, each new technology has presented new issues and has required us to think creatively about how to deal with their related records.

The Ohio Electronic Records Committee (OhioERC) tackles these challenges by researching issues and crafting guidelines for Ohio’s government and government-funded organizations to use in their own policy and procedure creation. As UC Records Manager, I have been a member of the OhioERC since 2006, serving as Secretary from 2008-2012. For me, this experience has been extremely valuable and frankly very eye-opening as I am exposed to quandaries others are facing and we may face very well in the future at UC. The first quarterly meeting of 2013 was held on Wednesday, January 16, at the Ohio History Center in Columbus. The Committee is very close to releasing a new guideline on cloud computing and an updated version of the Electronic Records Management guideline, one of the very first produced.  A subcommittee is working to update the current Managing Web Content guideline and discussion ensued about the need to update the current Managing Email guideline.

The newest manifestation of the technology phenomenon is internet computing and most recently, the use of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, in business environments. Along with the use of social media come many, many questions, particularly in our case when it comes to public records. The OhioERC’s newest guideline, Social Media: The Records Management Challenge, addresses many of the records management related issues that are tied to the use of social media in government organizations. In October, the OhioERC offered workshops to public records employees based on the new social media guideline, complete with a template for engaging social media, Social medial formatswhich was very well received as a practical take-away. Since then, we have been asked to present this workshop at other Ohio venues.

A look at the chart maintained by UC’s Web Communications department, a part of Government Relations and University Communications, shows just how pervasive social media has become at the University. Web Communications has issued guidelines and recommendations for the use of social media as well as guides for student and general users. However there is not a policy in place to govern social media use or the management of content as records and that should be our next step. Topics in the OhioERC guideline that need to be addressed via policy include how to capture content, ownership and control of data, retention and disposition, public records requests, legal issues, preservation, and security. These represent just a handful. Did you realize that there are this many issues connected to each of your business tweets or wall posts? Frankly, it makes me long for those punch cards.

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For a brief history of UC’s automation timeline, see the article “Automation and Records Management” originally published in the Spring 2010 edition of Records Quarterly as part of a series on the history of records management at UC.

For more information about the OhioERC and how it fits into UC’s records management policy development, see the blog entry “The Ohio Electronic Records Committee” originally posted August 16, 2011. Visit the OhioERC website for up-to-date information on the committee’s work and outreach opportunities and to find current guidelines.

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