Summary of Dr Alexandra Eveleigh’s keynote

Opening proceedings for this year’s Conference and setting the tone for Recordkeeper3.0, Dr Eveleigh focused on the need not only to change what we do butto change how we think, to embrace the destabilising reality of the modernwork environment.

Dr Alexandra EveleighUsing the example of frameworks – how we love to create structures that have us and what we do at the centre of them – Dr Eveleigh showed how this perpetuates the assimilation of existing norms, cultures and behaviours. While they can feel safe, they can lead us to seeing things like digital and social media as ‘ephemeral’ or marginal, when in fact they are the emerging mainstream.

Drawing on examples such as the ARA CPD framework and code of ethics, adding that these were improvements on their predecessors, she added that such frameworks appear to rely more on the past than anticipating and shaping the future. We need to think more about stakeholders as ‘co-owners’ not as groups on the periphery.

Dr Eveleigh took us through the Recordkeeper 1.0 and 2.0 worlds – we need to understand where we have come from in order to understand where we might all be heading (equally, she added, we must be clear that ‘what got you here – as an individual - won’t get you there’). Recordkeeper 1.0 was all about ‘the primary duty of custody’, with records accessible only to a small, select community and decisions over retention driven by narrow criteria. Recordkeeper 2.0 (echoing Web 2.0) was all about being open to re-interpretation, embracing digital and addressing access and openness.

Recordkeeper 3.0, by contrast, should be a complete re-think of what we do and how we do it. The search for diversity in its broadest sense might be the answer: not just our representativeness of wider society but embracing diverse areas of knowledge (business, technology, etc.), decentralisation and innovative practice. We should look at a new version of the ‘3 Rs’:

  •          Review: ie, why are we doing what we are doing? Can/should we do it differently? (In other words, focus on ‘why we do things’ not ‘what we do’ or ‘what we are’.) This does not mean ditching everything.
  •           Reflect: ie, thinking time, look for - and be open to – other views. How can we make the change happen?
  •           Reset: ie, challenge assumptions and then ‘do the doing’, make the change happen.

Drawing on examples of the economic diversity of Leeds and how it has managed (by virtue of this) to weather many socio-economic storms in the past and emerge in stronger shape, Dr Eveleigh showed how (likewise) we can re-purpose and re-erect redundant frameworks for new and productive uses if we are capable of recognising the need for change and are willing to take it on. Just relying on redundant frameworks just makes you more redundant.

Finally, Dr Eveleigh looked at ‘our careers’ – ie how the linear model of recordkeeping careers had been completely overturned in the course of the last twenty years or so. Fixed-term contracts, sideways moves, abrupt changes of direction to undertake more study or gain new experiences. This could appear scarier to some, but to her opened up new opportunities and insights. She herself had drawn an improvised diagram of what her career looked like and encouraged others to do the same!

career drawing 1