Where can you find the most records on campus? Not an obscure Guinness Book of World Records entry, an athletic record, or even an old vinyl. We mean cold, hard university public records – from emails to business transactions. Does the name Peg Eusch sounds familiar? Maybe not, but she takes home the title. Eusch, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Records Officer, is the gatekeeper behind the UW-Madison Records Management Program, which is housed within the UW-Madison Archives.
“My main charge is to ensure that the employees of University of Wisconsin-Madison understand that managing the records they create is part of their responsibility. Records Management is not just about records retention, it’s about how records are created and how they are managed through their entire records lifecycle to disposition in many different formats,” Eusch explains. “I have a unique position in that I work campus wide with all levels of employees and am the only one on this campus with this title, and specific responsibility.”
With a tremendous task on her shoulders, Eusch looks to April, which is Records and Information Management Month (RIMM), as a way to help educate employees around campus about the importance of good recordkeeping. Since being officially observed in 1995, RIMM goes far beyond acknowledging the practice of recordkeeping. It focuses on emphasizing the value and importance of organizing and maintaining records, in all their forms. It is understanding the high level 8 Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles of Transparency, Integrity, Protection, Compliance, Availability, Retention and Disposition and applying them to the management of our university records in all formats.
“Documentation is an important part of how we function in our individual jobs, and as a state entity,” Eusch notes. “We must make sure our records are created, organized, secured and maintained to not only document activities, but we also have to keep in mind what we need to preserve for our institutional memory. With more information being created in an electronic format, many people do not think of as it as an historical record which should be transferred to the UW-Madison Archives.”
But just what goes into Records Management on campus – and what does it really mean? As the UW-Madison Records Officer, a position she took over in 2009, Eusch consults campus-wide with staff, faculty, departments and units to help manage a wide variety of records issues and needs.
Because truly maintaining and organizing records can be daunting, Eusch points to the following tips to help people avoid becoming overwhelmed:
- Remember that management of records is not limited to physical documents but also applies to records in all formats and media such as electronic communications, photos, wav files, websites etc.
- Start now. Don’t wait for the end of the year or the start of the new one to organize your space. Inventory the records your department/unit has in both electronic and hard copy format. Initiate efficient records management practices on a regular basis to avoid a pile up at the end of the year.
- Work to get department or unit records management processes documented into a file plan. With staff turnover it is important to have processes documents to promote consistency.
- Know the Records Retention Schedules that apply to your work area. Familiarize yourself with the retention periods and organize your hard copy and electronic files accordingly.
- Ask for help. Contact Eusch with any records management questions.
With the needs of individuals and departments varying, Eusch, and the Records Management Program, have created an extensive website to answer nearly every records question a university employee may encounter. Everything from Administrative Records Schedule , Library General Records Schedule and records management trainings, to resources from the Public Records Board on compliance can all be found within the Records Information Management site.
“It’s important to understand and keep in mind that records sustain our day-to-day work here at the university and can answer questions about past decisions,” Eusch explains. “Records promote organizational efficiency and improve productivity through efficient access to records. Implementation of records management reduces space constraints, saves server space, reduces risk through good retention practices and preserves historically valuable university records.”
More about Eusch
Eusch’s commitment to UW-Madison runs deep. She received her bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison. Her father, Chuck Salmon was a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UW-Madison and taught for 33 years before retiring in 1989. Eusch’s mother, Bette Salmon, also received her doctoral degree from UW-Madison in Land Resources and was a graduate of the UW- Madison Law School.
Eusch is a member of ARMA International and the ARMA International Milwaukee Chapter and the Institute for Certified Records Manager. She received her certification as a CRM in 2010. In her spare time Eusch enjoys following NASCAR, Designing and making teddy bears, spending time with her husband and traveling.
“I feel like I have come full circle. I love working here on the UW-Madison campus and being given the opportunity to work with all the employees at all levels on good records management practices,” Eusch says. “Everyone that I have met during my time here on campus wants to do the right thing. It is very satisfying to me when I know that I have assisted them with records management issues and engaged them in the records management experience.”
To learn more about University Records Management Program and how it impacts you, please visit http://archives.library.wisc.edu/records/ or contact Peg Eusch, CRM through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.