Cook Bobrovitz

Leading and Managing Archives and Records Programs. Edited by Bruce W. Dearstyne. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2008. 347 pp. 75.00 USD. ISBN-10: 1-55570-6150; ISBN-13: 978-1-55570-615-9. ∞

American academic and educator, Bruce Dearstyne, well known for his work in leadership and archives, compiled and edited this volume of essays in support of the thesis that archives and records programs will benefit from the integration of leadership and management principles and practices: "Archives and records program managers clearly need to develop and apply leadership skills to succeed in their work," (p. 292).

Dearstyne selected thirteen seasoned professionals to author the personal essays for this volume. Two Brits and eleven Americans, including Edie Hedlin, former Director of the Smithsonian Institution Archives; Phil Mooney, Director of the Archives Department of the Coca-Cola Company; and Mark Greene, Director of the American Heritage Centre at the University of Wyoming, write about their personal experiences, good, bad and ugly, as managers of archives and records programs in a wide variety of settings ranging from private industry, government and cultural institutions to financial services firms. These are not all happy stories of unmitigated success, but fairly clear-eyed assessments of what contributes to the successful development and ongoing viability of vibrant and healthy archives and records programs. The authors offer advice, suggestions, observations, pitfall warnings and ideas for developing and maintaining successful and sustainable programs in a fast changing environment where archives and records units are constantly competing for resources. Each, in their own way, discusses and defines the role of a leader and the need for leadership at all levels.

The book is primarily American in content with the exception of articles written by British program directors; Kelvin Smith and Peter Emmerson. There are only two Canadian references, one in Dearstyne's introductory chapter, "Setting the Stage," where he summarizes some of the "issues, challenges, and opportunities that leaders and managers of archival and records programs face.," (p. 1). He references Ian E. Wilson, archivist and librarian of Canada, who said, among other things, that if libraries and archives are important to society, we need to build capacity for leadership and innovation, (p 11).

Dearstyne's background as an educator is evident. The book is clearly laid out starting with a preface that, like a course outline, introduces the thesis of the book, the authors, intended audience and a brief chapter summary. The detailed table of contents and index contribute to accessibility. Before diving into the meat of the book, Dearstyne carefully sets the stage. He leads the reader logically from an introductory chapter "Challenges and Opportunities in Leading Archives and Records Programs" into the first two essays, "The Records Management Leader" and "Records Management Standards: What They Are and Why They Are Important." Two final chapters put Dearstyne's vision in focus, bringing the reader back full circle to the beginning, providing an introductory-like context and a summary of themes and issues covered by the contributing authors. Although references are included at the conclusion of each essay, Dearstyne provides an extensive reading and resource list for those interested in further investigation.

Brief biographies for each author provide the background and context for a thoughtful assessment and analysis of their articles.

This volume serves as a good introductory survey text for students new to archives and records studies. For those professionals who have worked in the field for a number of years, it offers practical advice, creative ideas and inspiration for applying the principles and practices of leadership to the development of new initiatives or the resurrection of flagging programs.

Leading and Managing Archives and Records Programs is a thought-provoking read and an excellent guide for incorporating leadership principles and practices into the development of vibrant and successful archives and records programs.


Jennifer Cook Bobrovitz, Records and Archives Management Consultant. jenniferbo@stoney-nation.com, Stoney Tribal Administration, Morley, Alberta.

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Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research (ISSN: 1911-9593)