Document Records Management for Small NMHS

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1 Document Records Management for Small NMHS

2 Version Control Version Number Author Comments Date 1.0 M.Bastin 1 st May 2008 ii

3 Contents Introduction...1 Aims of Record Management Facts About Paper Handling Storage Requirements Container Choices Shelving Creating An Inventory Adding Records to an Existing Inventory Frequently Asked Question...11 Example of Inventory...12 iii

4 Introduction The preservation of meteorological records is vital to an improved scientific understanding of climate variability and climate change. As well local and international data preserved and appropriately managed will ultimately allow each country to better manage the effects of year to year climate variability and longer-term climate change. Aims of Record Management The aim of records management is to prevent loss of a national heritage that may otherwise have occurred through the deterioration or destruction of original meteorological observation records. Storing climate records using these best practices will provide a resource which has the potential for enhanced services within your country (e.g. seasonal climate prediction, and mitigation of the potential effects of climate change) to support important social and economic needs and help ensure sustainable development. The conservation and accessibility to additional meteorological records will lead to an enhanced understanding of the climate of your location, surrounding meteorological systems and a global understanding of climate. Records management will provide essential resources for climate change research at the national, regional and global levels. This resource will lead to an improved documentation and understanding of climate change throughout the region, and will provide the basis for further studies on impacts and adaptation strategies in yours and neighboring countries. The capacity building of meteorological staff is increased through effective records management and data preservation methods. Page 1 of 4 May 2008

5 1. Facts About Paper Almost all early meteorological observations were recorded on paper whether it is rainfall returns, computer print-outs, log-books or autographic charts. However, paper has its vulnerabilities. The following points are of important consideration. Paper is mostly made up of cellulose fibers from plants and being organic is food for vermin and pests. Paper is acidic in nature and/or contains impurities that produced acids as the paper ages. Acids in paper cause it to become yellow and brittle. 2. Handling Paper does not last forever, but its lifetime can be maximized by careful handling. Handling records is necessary whenever documents are relocated, boxed, stacked, read or when digitizing. The following points outline some important considerations for these processes. Handle with care. Use clean dry hands Use pencil, not marker pens or ink pens. Do not use adhesive tape to repair tears; it will discolour and degrade the paper and eventually fall off. Polypropylene, polyethylene or polyester plastic bags for photographs Avoid steel pins, paper clips and staples. Bundle paper records with flat cotton tape tied or use buckles if available. Wherever possible use cardboard or paper cover back and front for each bundle. This will act as further protection and can be used as a cover sheet with label. 3. Storage Requirements The following points should be considered when documents are packed into their appropriate boxes. These important points will help preserve documents in their original condition. When in boxes, files should be stored on their spine at the bottom of the box. Individual documents or items may be stored flat on the bottom of a box, but care should be taken not to stack too many items on top of one another. They will be difficult to retrieve and may squash the items at the bottom. Page 2 of 5 May 2008

6 If thin items are stored on their edge, they must be supported to avoid curling and sagging of the paper. Avoid using rubber bands use cotton tape instead. Make sure the box is not too big or too small, and the box is not full or too empty, as easy retrieval means less handling. Boxes should not be stacked more than four high depending on the stability of the stack which depends on the type and shape of the box. Keep in mind how the stack will behave when a box is removed from the shelf for whatever purpose. 4. Container Choices The container provides protection and a holder to facilitate stacking and shelving. The right container for the type of document is also imperative. Every item, or group of items, should have some sort of file cover or protective material enclosing it. Cotton tape may be used to bundle loose papers. Boxes, file covers and other packaging materials should be made of acid free archival materials Items should not be folded to fit them into the file cover; provide a covering that suits the size of the item and place it in a suitably sized box. Figure 1 Examples of recommended storage materials. L- R Cardboard sleeves, Cotton tape and popular cardboard box are all acid free. Page 3 of 6 May 2008

7 5. Shelving Placing archive boxes on shelves facilitates further protection from the floor and spaces between boxes. Wooden shelving can release harmful vapours, contribute to the spread of fire and may harbour insects. Shelves should start at least 150 mm off the floor in case of flood. Paper records should not be stored on the top of shelving units as they will be too close to ceiling lights and there is also the possibility of water damage from fire sprinklers. Aisles between shelving should allow easy access to and removal of the records. Figure 2 Examples of well stacked shelves. Page 4 of 7 May 2008

8 Storage Environment Storage between 18 and 20 C and 45% and 50% RH Mould will start to grow at around 60% relative humidity, and if the humidity fluctuates more than 10% in 24 hours or the temperature is too high. Items in the collection will become stressed, which will accelerate the deterioration process. 6. Creating An Inventory An inventory of archived material in boxes is necessary to keep track of all available records. The inventory is a working catalogue and thus a very important document to help locate paper records, keep track of the whereabouts of paper records and provide a record of holdings for both paper and digitized records. Spreadsheet software is ideally suited for the inventory. If this is not possible then a simple database or tabulated fixed file of the inventory is also worth considering. How does it work? The inventory is a list of the contents of all storage boxes; and thus is a record of all meteorological observation records held within the National Meteorological Service. The inventory will include a box numbering system matching the labels on the boxes. Boxes or files with a common numbering system in sequence should be placed together and in numbered sequence. To be used as a source of electronic data holdings, the inventory may include an additional column showing the extent that the data has been digitized. The inventory is a means of checking the availability of data and can be used to keep track of sets of data taken from the shelves or boxes for other purposes such as copying or on loan. Page 5 of 8 May 2008

9 Steps in Creating an Inventory 1. Group paper records into type of data the document contains. For example barographs, log books, rainfall returns etc will all be separated into individual sets. 2. Group these sets of records by station. Most records pertain to a particular station. Place like reports for each station into separate piles. Thus for each type of record further sub-divisions will be made for each station. 3. Order these groups into date order. For each of these piles ensure that the order of the documents is in date order 4. Label boxes into a sequential order. Include the type of box in labeling system For example R for rainfall records R001, R002, R003...R010 etc and then say B for barograph B001, B002,. 5. Pack boxes with bundles. See notes on Handling. Use appropriate shaped box for type of record and packing material where necessary. 6. Place boxes on shelves in numbered order. 7. Begin creating inventory as boxes are labeled and stacked on shelves. An example of am inventory can be found in the appendix. 8. The essential columns are as follows: box identification, Station name and number, start and end date of each record set, the number of months in each set and a description of the type of data Figure 3 Examples of well labeled boxes. The box number is recorded on the inventory. Page 6 of 9 May 2008

10 Steps in Creating an Inventory 1. Records before the process of ordering, sorting and boxing. This image demonstrates the impracticality of these records as a repository of information. Although the records may be stacked neatly there are many problems, such as lack of access and lack of information about the records themselves. 2. Grouping records by type. Obviously desktop space is required at this stage. Piles of dissimilar records are put piles of similar type. 3. Ordering groups into date order. Each pile of records for a particular type of record, for example log books are put into date order. Page 7 of 10 May 2008

11 Steps in Creating an Inventory 4. Boxing the records. This image highlights the near perfect fit of these log books. This isn t always the case. In those that aren t good fit, bundling the records in cloth tape can help as with providing packing. Before placing on the shelf, the box needs to be labeled and added to the inventory 5. The boxes are placed on shelves in sequential order of the box number. Take care not to stack too many boxes on top of each other. Always face the label to the front of the box. 6. Spreadsheet applications are ideally suited for the inventory. New entries can easily be added. Most spreadsheets have a search function. Refer to the example in the appendix for more detail. Page 8 of 11 May 2008

12 Points to Note in Creating Inventory Where there are breaks or gaps in the holdings of a certain element for a station, the inventory should show this break as well. For example if a certain station has rainfall records say from June 1978 to December 1990 and then a gap with no records but starting again from June 1991, the last box in the series should be December Neither the inventory nor the boxes themselves are to span the gap. An example of this can be seen in the appendix. In row 3 the inventory shows that there are two months of pluviographs in one set consisting of March 1998 to April The inventory clearly shows that a gap in the records must exist at the time the inventory was written as the next bundle (row 4) shows that the next set begins again in July The general principle for stacking boxes on shelves is to stack like boxes together. In this way the sequential order and type designation, will help locate boxes. For the situation where the inventory applies to a single storage site does not need to include information about the location of the box. However, the sequential numbers along with the stacking these boxes in the same order will make it far easier to locate. If the inventory includes multi-site storage facilities e.g. Airport and HO require the sites should be included in the inventory. Don t mix records of different types in the same box. Avoid the inducement to save boxes by putting unlike material in the same box for any reason. The spreadsheet usually offers a search function so that the user can search by date to find an item. A partial inventory for a Pacific Island country is contained in the Appendix. This illustrates the general requirements for an inventory as outlined in this document. Page 9 of 12 May 2008

13 9. Adding Records to an Existing Inventory This document has so far focused on beginning a new inventory of observational records assumed to have had little or no storage management. If however, the intent is to add records to an already existing and suitable inventory, the updating of the existing inventory is preferable to beginning a new inventory. Keeping multiple inventories is to be avoided as it will lead to confusion. If space permits within partially filled boxes these can be topped up and the inventory is adjusted accordingly. New boxes will be started where necessary keeping the same numbering system, stacking these in number sequence and adding entries to the inventory. Using the example in the Appendix, the new records of the inventory are inserted into the spreadsheet. A new inventory record is defined by the station, period and type of observational data in a set that belongs to a box. It is good practice of record management to continuously add to your inventory at regular intervals rather than waiting for records to accumulate to a disorderly size. If however, you have begun your paper record management and have started an inventory but perhaps you consider it not suitable, thorough deliberation is necessary before beginning again. This is because All or some boxes may be required to be re-labeled All or some boxes may require re-packing There may be certain circumstances when an inventory needs to be started over. It is not a task to be considered lightly. And the task becomes more difficult as the amount of records grows. Page 10 of 13 May 2008

14 10. Frequently Asked Question 1. How do I decide what is worth keeping? The general principle here is if in doubt keep it. Original as opposed to meteorological observations have a higher value even if this is not immediately recognized. 2. What do I do with really old records that are about to fall apart at the slightest touch? Very old records should be preserved in the best way possible using the principles outlined earlier e.g. do not use sticky tape. Old records may be set aside in special containers with an appropriate annotation in the inventory. 3. Where do I keep my inventory? The inventory should be kept as a special document preferably as a spreadsheet, database or a table on a fixed file. Make back up copies. 4. How do I add new records of boxes to my inventory? New boxes need to fit in the current scheme of box numbering. Therefore it is most likely to assign a new box the next new number. 5. Can an existing inventory be added to? Yes, If there is sufficient room in the last box in a series this can be added to. However, the inventory will require an amendment with this additional information. If a new box needs or a new series of boxes is required, then this can be added to the existing inventory. 6. What do I do with very patchy records? If a set of paper records (for a particular station for a particular type of observation) is very intermittent then the best practice is too treat the paper records separately in their own box. The box should be labeled as such and the inventory annotated e.g. in the comments column. Page 11 of 14 May 2008

15 National Climate Centre Data Management Appendix Example of Inventory This table is included for illustrative purpose only. Whereas it is based on a real situation, it is not the complete listing. Box ID Control Symbol Name or Number Start Date End date Number Months Description Form Type BoM Eqv. Location Amount (shelf metres) A001 Banaba J Barograph Met.509 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A001 Tarawa J Hygrograph Met.508 Climate Some Missing A001 Tarawa J Thermograph Met.525 Climate Some Missing A002 Tarawa J Pluviograph Met.503 Climate A003 Tarawa J Barograph Met.511 F416 Climate Appendix Page 12 of 15 May 2008

16 National Climate Centre Data Management Box ID Control Symbol Name or Number Start Date End date Number Months Description Form Type BoM Eqv. Location Amount (shelf metres) A004 Tarawa J Sunshine Cards FM4121,2,3 Climate Indeterminate A005 Tarawa J Sunshine Cards FM4121,2,3 Climate Indeterminate A006 Banaba J Sunshine Cards FM4121,2,3 Climate Complete A006 Tarawa J Sunshine Cards FM4121,2,3 Climate Indeterminate B001 Kiritimati J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B001 Kiritimati J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B001 Kiritimati J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B001 Kiritimati J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B001 Kiritimati J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B002 Kiritimati J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B003 Fanning J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B003 Fanning J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B003 Fanning J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B003 Fanning J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B003 Fanning J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B004 Banaba J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B004 Banaba J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B004 Banaba J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B004 Beru J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B005 Butaritari J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B005 Butaritari J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B005 Butaritari J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B005 Butaritari J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B005 Butaritari J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B005 Butaritari J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B005 Butaritari J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate Start 21/11/2003 Appendix Page 13 of 16 May 2008

17 National Climate Centre Data Management Box ID Control Symbol Name or Number Start Date End date Number Months Description Form Type BoM Eqv. Location Amount (shelf metres) B006 Butaritari J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B007 Arorae J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B007 Arorae J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B007 Arorae J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B007 Arorae J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B007 Arorae J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B007 Arorae J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B007 Arorae J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate Finished 12/08/2004 B008 Kanton J Synop Code Met.359 SYNOP Climate B008 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B008 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B008 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B008 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B008 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B008 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B009 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B009 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B009 Kanton J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B010 Tarawa J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate B010 Tarawa J Field Book Met.801 A8 Climate Appendix Page 14 of 17 May 2008

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