Records and Information Management Professionals: Discovering an Identity

Donald Force


Records management activities date back to antiquity (Duranti, 1993), although the records and information management profession (RIM), as it is known today, only emerged in the late twentieth century (Scanlan, 2011). Despite its obscurity, RIM is a growing profession (Force, 2013). RIM, however, suffers from an identity crisis and its future is unclear (Force, 2017). One of the greatest hindrances to the profession is that no research has sought to understand the demographic and educational backgrounds of RIM professionals, let alone their education needs.

Understanding the professionals within a profession is paramount for the profession’s growth. In 2004, a group of archival educators and practitioners developed a comprehensive survey to evaluate the state of the archival profession. Their report, which has popularly become known as the A*CENSUS, contributed to a better understanding of the “profile of archivists” and identified numerous challenges facing the archival profession (Walch & Yakel, 2006).

The RIM profession has not been examined with the same type of academic scrutiny as the archival profession. Until now. In January, the author distributed an online survey intended for current or retired RIM professionals in the United States. The author received a positive response from the RIM community with over 300 professionals completing the survey. The survey collected a variety of data about RIM professionals: their demographic composition, educational backgrounds, and continuing education needs. This presentation will discuss the results of the survey and explore its pedagogical implications with regards to teaching RIM in library and information science degree programs. The session will also examine the need for future research within the area of records and information management.


Duranti, L. (1993). The odyssey of records managers. In Canadian Archival Studies and the Rediscovery of Provenance, edited by Tom Nesmith, 29-57. Netuchen, N.J. & London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Force, D. (2017). A Profession in peril: The future of RIM in North America. Information Management Journal, 51(1): 21-27.

——. (2013). Archival science and RIM job announcements project. Paper presented at the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Meeting, 17 August 2013, New Orleans, LA.
Scanlan, K.A. (2011). ARMA v. SAA: The history and heart of professional friction. The American Archivist, 74(2): 428-450.
Walch, V. and Yakel, E. (2006). The archival census and education needs survey in the United States (A*CENSUS). OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives, 22(1), 15-22.


Donald Force, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he teaches courses in records management and archival studies. Dr. Force received his doctorate in library, archives, and information studies from the University of British Columbia. His areas of research involve archival science pedagogy, the history of recordkeeping practices, and legal issues associated with records management practices in North America. He is the current president of the ARMA Milwaukee Chapter and a Trustee of the ARMA International Educational Foundation.