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