“What is records management?”

I hear that a lot when I tell people that I’m the Records Manager here at Mount Sinai. And I will admit it is a fair question.

One fact that I can point out is that everyone has records that they manage. A very common example would be credit card bills. Whether you get an envelope in your mailbox or an email, every month you receive a statement telling you what you’ve charged and how much you need to pay. These statements are records. After paying the bank or American Express or the credit union, some people will save the statements, while others will delete or throw them away. That decision is a records management decision.

Mount Sinai creates or receives an enormous number of records every day, many with specific legal and regulatory requirements that must be met. One of the jobs of records management is to make sure that we keep these records long enough to meet these obligations. This is called setting retention periods and it is, in some ways, the simple part; most people like to hang on to their stuff.

The more difficult part is getting people to destroy records once their retention period is over. A few records do have long-term value; others are simply sent to storage and forgotten. Part of my job here is identifying those records that we no longer need to keep and convincing those responsible that it is okay destroy them. Since the expense of keeping records longer than necessary, in whatever format, is not trivial, this is important.

These two things are part of how Records Management helps Mount Sinai to actively manage our records. It sounds a lot like a parent trying to get a child to keep his or her room neat. It often feels like that but without the childish temper tantrums or teenage surliness. This is a serious business after all.

– Andrew Shultz, Records Manager

New Library Search Available

AIT and the Levy Library are rolling out a new library catalog and discovery system, WorldShare. WorldShare is a cloud-based software platform that will allow the library to improve patron experience. This system allows the library to streamline workflow and provide better service to the Mount Sinai community, while reducing costs.

The WorldShare platform is a product of OCLC, an innovative library cooperative providing research, programs and services to library members.

What does it mean for students and faculty?
• A streamlined, Google-like search for books, e-books, and e-journals.
• A one-stop-shop for searching across the library collection
• Easy to find books, not only in the Levy Library collection, but all over
the city and around the world

Better Discovery:
• Quick search for fast discovery
• Advanced search for targeted results
• Journal search for quick access
• Off-campus access

Future plans:
• Unified search to include articles and book chapter searching
• Unified research portal to search e-books, e-journals, articles and
more

More information? Questions, comments, concerns?
Please let us know: Refdesk@mssm.edu or 212-241-7791

 

Celebrating American Archives Month

October is American Archives Month, when archivists around the country try to explain to the public just what it is that we do and why it matters. Most people probably have the vague sense that archives preserve information about the past so that history, individual rights and responsibilities can be defined and protected. But what does that actually mean to real people?

This past year, the Mount Sinai Archives has answered over 300 requests for information from the Mount Sinai community and interested outsiders. As part of that we have:

  • provided documents proving that a father’s military service was spent abroad so that his proud daughter could join the Veterans of Foreign Wars;
  • helped children/grandchildren/family members learn more about a loved one, now gone, who attended the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing as a young woman;
  • provided documents to various Mount Sinai departments to support them in their everyday activities, from report creation to lawsuits;
  • supplied information and images to scholars and authors from around the world as they wrote articles, books and blog posts;
  • sat with an actress to talk about her role as a nurse in 1900, showing her documents, notebooks and uniforms to give her a sense of what it would have felt like to be a nurse then, her duties and her training.

We have helped real people touch a piece of the past and that has made an impact on their lives. Not a bad way to spend your day.