Records Organization and Access

Authored by: Sue Myburgh

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:


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Records, as documents which provide evidence of business transactions that have taken place, are collected and preserved for as long as they are useful to the organization, or as is demanded by law. In order to be useful, however, they must be organized in such a way that they can easily be identified, located, accessed, and used, for whatever purpose. First, the records must be described by identifying the most useful salient characteristics; then, they are categorized in various ways, according to their age, function, level of confidentiality, privacy and security, and access to them controlled according to these categories. Records may be arranged by one of several ordinal systems, usually involving letters and numbers, but also color: these symbolically represent the characteristics that are considered as important descriptors. Thus, records can be accessed (or protected from access) by their category; they can be located by correspondence between terms (which may be words or numbers) used to describe characteristics and terms used in searching for particular records or records series. These principles apply to both physical and virtual records.

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