Managing Institutional Archives

 by Etiwel Mutero
'Management" and its synonym "administration" are familiar words to archivists, almost always referring to the application of the principles of archival and records management to particular collections or bodies of records. In this paper, the author is going to discuss with relevant examples the essential elements for managing institutional archives that are also common to the administration of all archives.
Institutional archives are archives that belong to a single body such as a University, hospital, army etcetera. As the author had indicated, the words management and administration are related .Administration according to the Random House Webster's College Dictionary is the management and direction of a government, business, institution, or the like. Management, by the same source, is "first the act or process of managing.'
The elements that are essential to the management not of institutional archives are; management, which includes leadership, organisational structures, planning human resource management, financial management, managing archival facilities and public relations.
Management includes planning. It is essential that the archives manager possess planning qualities. She/he should have short and long term plans for the institutional archives. Plans encourage institutional integration, that is, the whole institution works towards the same goal. The archives manager should have a vision and use the leadership vision to achieve goals.
The institutional archive should have a good organisational structure. Organisational structure reflects both internal and external institutional relationships and policies such as the archives placement within its parent organisation, its internal hierarchy, and its relationship with auxiliary structures such as advisory boards. It should clearly show the chain of command that means the informal networks had to be discouraged.
Another element is that of human resource management. The archives institution should have a human resource policy. The policy explains the qualification of the archives staff. It showed the job description of all the archives staff. The archives manager should know all issues related to recruitment and selection of staff within good business ethics applied.

It is essential that the archives manager be involved in supervising all the archives staff under him. Supervision involves applying personnel resources to the issues for which a manager's unit or organisation is responsible. Employees must be informed of the organisations objectives and their duties in relation to these objectives. Performance evaluation is also conducted in order for the archives staff to be motivated in their work endeavours. Standards had to be set so that targets may be set for each staff.

Training and development of staff is also a critical element of the archive management. Employee development programs can encompass extensive training efforts, conference, and seminars. The benefits of career development should be especially attractive to archival institutions, which invest heavily in skills development only after long experience with a collection, its donors, and its researchers. The archives institution should encourage staff to advance themselves through hands on training or through convectional courses.

The archives facilities should be managed efficiently, I speak of the general facility management. The facility should meet the minimum conditions of an ideal archival facility. It should have a constant temperature and humidity. The archives building should be located away from swamps, dumb areas or not located near known natural hazards. The building should be well light and that protection from unlawful entry must be there. It should be located near the archives clientele and that fire detectors must be there and fire fighting equipment must be in place and staff trained in fire fighting.

The archives have to be divided into offices, technical services, public services, common areas and record storage areas. Borrowing and reference rules have to be followed. There aught to be a supply of archives needs, such as stationary and storage equipment.
The archives manager should be able to budget for the institution archives. He should be able to plan how the archives institution should get funds for the day to day business of the institution. There could be fundraising activities organised.

Lastly public relations is also an essential element in the management of institutional archives. Public relations refers to the communication or dialogue which a repositionary has with individual or groups inside and outside its institutional setting intended to convey information about services and goals.

Public relation promotes advance the archival image. It also involves dealing with the clientele and marketing of archival services. Poor public relations would result in failing to achieve the archival mission statement.
Planning leadership, organisational structures, human resources management, archives facilities management financial management and public relations are essential elements for managing institutional archives that are also common to the administration of all archives programmes.

1. Wilsted T, Managing Archival and Manuscript Reposition," . The society of American Archivist, Chicago 1991.
2. Ropar, Managing Archives, IRMT, 1991
5. Dalt.Organisation Theory and design, St Paul Publishers, 1986.Etiwel Mutero works for the National University of Science and Technology[NUST]Bulawayo Zimbabwe.He holds a National Certificate in Records and Information Science Management and a Bsc Honours Degree in Records and Archives ,Management Mobile phone +263773614293 or email


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