Fifth Annual Meeting of the
Corporate Archives Forum
June 6-7, 2002
Atlanta, Georgia

Meeting Notes

The fifth annual meeting of the Corporate Archives Forum was held June 6-7, 2002 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Coca-Cola Archives hosted the meeting. The following individuals were present:

  • Elizabeth Adkins, Ford Motor Company

  • Bruce Bruemmer, Cargill

  • Kathleen Collins, Bank of America

  • Phil Mooney, Coca-Cola Company

  • Nicole Pelsinsky, Microsoft Corporation

  • Ed Rider, Procter & Gamble

  • Leslie Simon, CIGNA

  • Deborah Skaggs, Frank Russell Company

  • Becky Haglund Tousey, Kraft Foods

David Carmicheal, Director of the Georgia Department for Archives and History, attended part of the meeting as the guest of the group.

Two staff members from Coca-Cola also attended the meeting: Ted Ryan and Sheri Jackson.

Greg Hunter of Long Island University served as facilitator and note-taker.

To protect confidentiality, these meeting notes do not attribute comments to any attendee or company. The attendees are sharing these notes with the wider archival community in the hopes of furthering the discussion of issues.

This year’s meeting covered the following topics:

  • Check-In/Update

  • Content Management: Theory and Practice

  • Using Interwoven to Identify and Retain Web Content

  • Enterprise Solutions to Archives and Records Management: The State Government Context

  • A Media Asset Management System

  • Using Plumtree for Web Portals

  • Building Partnerships and Cultivating Champions

  • Appraising, Accessioning, and Preparing to Process Electronic Records

  • Recording and Reporting Reference Statistics

  • Informal Salary Survey


Attendees gave the following brief updates on activities during the past year:

  • Company 1 launched a digital asset management system using IBM Content Manager. It is working well and people are using it. There has been a great deal of publicity in technical publications. They are trying to get the rest of the collections on-line.

  • Company 2 now reports to the General Counsel. They are building the department from the ground-up. They have archives and records management in a combined program. They are trying to heighten awareness of Web records – they are very important in a regulatory environment. The Web site has been built to serve customers.

  • Company 3 has archival collections in 2 different cities. At their headquarters location they also are trying to establish a working relationship with another company that also has an interest in parts of the collection.

  • Company 4 went through a major merger 3 years ago. The archivist has had 4 different supervisors since then. It is challenging to run an archives in a changing culture. At the time of the merger the staff went from a staff of 4 to 1. A subsequent CEO said this was "postage stamp thinking." They have been able to hire a full-time assistant archivist this year.

  • Company 5 had a major acquisition last year that required the integration of archival collections. This has been a great deal of work but has increased the visibility of the archives. Research requests keep increasing – over 30% this year.

  • Company 6 has combined archives and records management into "global information management." They plan to establish satellite programs around the world. They have also added responsibility for audiovisual assets management to the department. In the past year they converted 3 contract employees to corporate employees.

  • Company 7 prepared an historical calendar which was mailed to over 70,000 employees and retirees. Next year they will be developing a corporate-wide records retention schedule. Archives, Records Management, and the Library all are part of "global business services." They will have to change the archives’ content management system to the new corporate standard. An outside consulting firm is writing a history of the corporation. The Archives also is being moved to another building.

  • Company 8 had a reorganization of the archives. It now is with Information Services and the Library. They lost some head count in the last year. They have 2 full-time staff with the rest as contract workers. The Archives will be leveraging digital content on the company’s premier Internet portal. They are trying to redo the metrics of the archives, especially in the area of reference.

  • Company 9 has made the archives part of the Information Center within Public Affairs. As with everyone else, this company is cutting corporate costs. By having to charge back for services, are we chasing business away? In this company the Archives has to sell its services in advance and allocate costs to the departments in its annual budget. This archives only has contract staff. The archives inherited a video collection after its staff was dismissed. They looked at digital video management but chose not to move forward because of the cost. They have been involved in several exhibits. Records management is under the legal department.

Several attendees worked with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) on a "power brands" campaign. This included a major exhibit on the "heritage of brands."

Several people also talked about an influential book in their corporations, From Good to Great by Jim Collins. He is the also the author of Built to Last.

There also were comments that the outsourcing of information centers is a "creeping virus" in corporate America. This is worrisome for the future of corporate archives.

Trends in litigation already being experienced are suits for reparations for slavery and suits for alleged exposure to asbestos while working in factories and office buildings.

Content Management: Theory and Practice

One of the problems with "content management" is that there are several definitions of it. One working definition is "applying life cycle management to Web content." This is a very hot topic at the moment.

There also are differences in defining other terms: content, record, document, and publishing.

One archives is providing input into the corporation’s "content management strategy." They also are working on a "digital preservation strategy." When they have these problems solved, next they will address world hunger!

A second company has no corporate-wide standard for document management. They are thinking of content management as dealing with the Internet/Intranet. They are using Adobe Acrobat to capture and store Web content manually.

Another company is exploring using Stellant for content management. It used to be a text system.

How is content management different than digital asset management? One company has identified 3 types of assets: still images, moving images, and documents. They are taking a narrow view of the content to manage. In the future, they would like the archives’ system to become the company standard for content management.

Most attorneys have not been brought into discussions about capturing e-commerce transactions. Lawyers review static Web content but are not involved after this.

Early Web efforts were decentralized. E-commerce has led to a need for more centralization. We are moving beyond Mickey Rooney’s spur-of-the-moment solution in the movies: "let’s put on a show."

Information Technology departments don’t know about information management tools: taxonomy, controlled vocabulary, classification, indexing, etc. These are needed to run a content management system effectively. In particular, a controlled vocabulary is essential, but no one wants to develop it.

IT always counted on "full text searching" – the day of reckoning is coming.

"Autonomy" is an automatic taxonomy tool. However, it still requires a human element.

One corporation has several groups working on taxonomies. The culture in this corporation is to try to solve problems on your own within your group.

A major problem is names and products that no longer are current. The archives has to maintain this information in the taxonomy.

Two corporations are using Documentum. The archives in these corporations are trying to influence the taxonomy and metadata that Documentum uses.

Content management is sellable. The Web is out of control. There is a danger when systems change and content is lost. There are all kinds of records being "spawned" on the Internet, through new categories of collaborative software. One company has design documents maintained by an originating department, a collection they maintain is larger than the entire World Wide Web.

Content management may just be "knowledge management renamed." KM took off in Germany and is still very popular there.

One corporation has a policy that if there is no identified owner of the Web content, and the content has not been updated in a year, it is removed from the Web.

Content management needs to be on everyone’s horizon. It is important for the archivist to talk to Information Technology department. This is really just another way to create and manage electronic records. It is better for the archivist to be in on the ground level.

In one company, the culture is such that they only worry about records when it’s time to box them up. Another company has found it useful to adopt a risk management approach to Internet content.

There is a related challenge. Information technology functions are being outsourced in many corporations. This makes it more difficult to build partnerships than when IT was internal. It is harder to get IT’s attention, especially is the Web Services Team has been outsourced.

In some corporations, the archivists have noticed a shift from trying to make money from archival "assets." There is less stress on "re-purposing assets" and more stress on "don’t be sued."

In one company, the Web Development Team now is part of the Systems Team. They are trying to develop a taxonomy for naming pages. The titles/topics keep mutating, making it difficult to get a handle on them.

Using Interwoven to Identify and Retain Web Content

One archivist discussed the use of Interwoven for Web content management. "Teamsite" is Interwoven’s content management product.

In this corporation, FileNet is used for document management. The company established a "Web Records Task Force" a year ago. In this corporate environment, there are legal and regulatory requirements for Web records. To an archivist, 7 years may not seem like a long retention; to an IT department, it is an eternity.

In 2000 they bought a portal system called "Infoimage." The archives was not involved in the vendor selection, but is part of the implementation team. Infoimage is not good at capturing records – they needed to back up the entire site to meet regulatory requirements. If they need to view a record, they will need to restore the entire site.

The archivist learned important lessons from this: you need a place at the table and you need to build an awareness of Web records.

Based upon this experience, the company decided to implement Teamsite. Now Teamsite is the backbone of their Web presence. It is a development tool for building sites as well as a repository for content. It controls the workflow from design to publication.

With Teamsite, developers create templates so that "content authors" can create pages. The template (designer) and content (author) are combined in Active Server Pages. A Teamsite page is composed of:

  • Template

  • GIF files (images)

  • CGI scripts

  • Document Control Records (DCR). These are placeholders that control the position of content.

  • Content

Teamsite has a "work area" that contains a virtual copy of the Web. This permits people to work on the Website simultaneously. There also is a "staging area" so that IT can look at the work before posting it. The published Website is called an "edition."

"Versioning" is not the same as content management. Interwoven deletes the old record; it does not keep it as a previous version. Teamsite overwrites the old DCRs. The archivist has to capture and store old documents before overwriting them.

FileNet provides security and real versioning. The archivist encourages people to send documents to the FileNet system first and then pull content for the Web. But this does not always meet the regulatory requirement for retaining what was presented to the customer/client.

The following is their strategy for capturing Web content:

  • Static content. Backups are created each time a site is published. The entire Web site is captured Monday at 2:00 a.m. as a baseline. Incremental backups are created every time a page is changed. The backups are saved to CD to meet regulatory requirements. To restore the site, they need to recover both kinds of backups.

  • Dynamic Web sites. In addition to the above, they wrote a separate application to capture dynamic content that a user requests. This is an HTML version of the display that is saved on the Web server for 30 days and stored on CD for regulatory reasons. The dynamic display is captured as a static HTML page and preserved. They also capture metadata on who looked at the record and when. They don’t try to preserve the entire database for this particular site because the business has decided to track information about the presentation of particular documents on the web site.

They test the records regularly to see if they can restore both individual records and the entire site. They also have preserved documentation for the processes for review by regulatory agencies.

Another corporate archives uses Adobe Acrobat for making snapshots of Web sites on a regular basis.

Enterprise Solutions to Archives and Records Management: The State Government Context

David Carmicheal, Director of the Georgia Department for Archives and History, joined the group to discuss similarities and differences between corporate archives and government archives.

David discussed some of the ways that corporate archives and government archives are similar:

  • Customers can determine your fate. There is competition for resources, The budget of an archives depends upon contributing to customer satisfaction. In government, an archives needs to support all the efforts to keep the taxpayers happy. Voting can provide direct feedback.

  • The Chief Executive Officer is key. But who, really, is the CEO: the governor, the secretary of state, or the 236 elected legislators? The center of power shifts constantly.

  • It is important to be aware of "branding." How is the institution perceived? How does the archives support the perception the institution is trying to advance?

  • Public relations is key. Archivists often are perceived stereotypically. It is a constant battle to remain relevant.

  • The archives supports a broad range of products and services. For example, the Georgia Archives supports: 75 state agencies, 100,000 employees, 159 counties, 345 school districts, and 550 historical agencies. They also train state and local government officials in the open records law.

  • The archives has a differing range of authority. In the case of state government, the archives has direct authority over state agencies, can influence local governments because it gives grants, but has almost no authority over the courts.

  • The archives is constantly in the throes of change. State archives have to monitor draft legislation to anticipate potential changes. For example, bills to prevent identify theft are being introduced without considering the recordkeeping impact. The archives finds itself sandwiched between a public that wants open records and legislators that want to restrict access.

  • An archives can be perceived as a resource drain (the way someone once defined a dog). In many states, smaller government is seen as better government. Some sectors of the population see the government as the enemy. Legislators always are looking for return on investment. With many legislators, it is "in sight, out of mind."

What are the potential responses to the complexity of the current situation? There are at least four strategies:

  • Give up. Decide there is nothing we can do.

  • Make survival the highest goal. But this is not a long-term strategy.

  • Focus documentation efforts on key constituents and let other records go. The danger is that others within your institution won’t know that the archives exists.

  • Build partnerships that will persist. This is a long-term strategy. The archives should help everyone, since you never know where people will wind up.

A Media Asset Management System

One company is implementing a digital asset management system to take resources used most frequently and make them more accessible. Implementation started 3 years ago. At present the system contains 5,000 videos, 13,000 images, and 10,000 documents.

There currently are 4,800 registered users of the system. This is 1/6th of all the employees in the corporation.

As part of the system, they are capturing 75 fields of metadata. They are able to add talent information into the system, which is very useful in securing permission for reuse.

They have determined that the cost of cataloging and creating metadata is $14 per video.

Registered users can order images on-line from a third-party contractor. This contractor also does the initial scanning of the images, including a high-resolution scan.

Using Plumtree for Web Portals

A portal is defined as a simple access point to disparate, voluminous information and the applications that process it.

Plumtree has a feature called "gadgets." These are special tools that individuals can choose to add to their sites.

The Information Technology Department did not clarify everything before implementing a corporate portal. For example, the login procedure required 3 separate logins. Any hurdle hurts the level of use.

There also is a larger control issue. Over 70 entities act independently when posting content. The archivist had hoped that IT would bring some order to this as part of the portal initiative.

The site search function associated with the portal was an improvement. General metadata now is input for all Web resources, but there is no controlled vocabulary. IT now is looking at developing a taxonomy for metadata. One attendee noted that in other corporations, the archives already is leading the effort to develop a taxonomy.

In this company, the policy is not to publish company-confidential materials on the Intranet. Going to a simple login will improve security throughout the company.

The archives sees potential in the portal concept. The archives can prepare content and reach the entire Intranet community. This can be a way to "virtualize" the information center. They might do this by using Plumtree’s gadgets.

The archives maintains a feature called "Expert Net," a listing of experts in various topical areas. Another archivist noted that in his/her corporation, people don’t want to be part of the expert database – they don’t want to be called by everyone in the company.

There are a number of challenges still facing the company and the archives:

  • Uneven metadata

  • Multiple passwords make it a headache to use the system

  • There are "empty search results" because there are no documents in some parts of the taxonomy developed by IT.

  • Low initial acceptance

  • Response time was slowed as people layered gadgets on their sites

  • Decrease in usability. As part of the portal project, IT eliminated an alphabetical list of business units, which was one of the most used pages on the Intranet.

  • Poor marketing. IT did not appreciate the nuances of the situation and did not market the portal well.

Building Partnerships and Cultivating Champions

A common theme throughout the meeting has been the need to develop both executive champions and business partners.

One company is examining its corporate culture. The archives offered to help in this effort.

Another company tries to get champions by pushing the information out. They don’t wait for people to come to them. They have concluded that they almost need a full-time historian to write articles.

A third archivist stated that the point is to be proactive. No one asked the archives to develop a digital asset management system. You also cannot just do one thing and stop – you have to keep building awareness. Technical people, in particular, like to be thought of as looking ahead. The archivist must show that I\we can be both forward thinking and build upon our heritage.

Cable television constantly needs content. One archivist tries to promote properties from the collection and repackage them. This involve being strategic as well as proactive.

One archivist recently acquired a high-level executive champion. This has made a huge difference in getting funding and opening doors. But this also makes the archivist nervous – what happens after the executive champion retires? If you’re too closely identified with that person, it may result in political repercussions after that person leaves.

How do you plan for finding another executive champion? You need to start making connections to other executives across the corporation.

With such big initiatives as enterprise-wide electronic records management, you absolutely have to build partnerships. But this is a challenge with constant turnover in the IT area.

One company experienced an IT budget crunch at a crucial time in the development of a new system. The archivist traded off reduced fees for the system in exchange for speaking at some of the software vendor’s conferences.

We need to remember what’s in it for the partners. We need to sell the partners on why they should participate. You can’t succeed unless you understand company politics.

Sometimes patience is important, especially with people who are obstacles. We may need to find work-arounds until people leave.

The hardest part is deciding where to be strategic. Our time is limited.

Should we also consider partnerships not to build? There are people who will ask the archives to do things outside of the archives’ strategic focus. A couple of attendees noted problems with facilities people and exhibit coordinators.

Appraising, Accessioning, and Preparing to Process Electronic Records

Managing electronic records is such a challenge because of the speed with which the technology changes. Could we handle audiovisual records if the format and media changed as rapidly? Probably not.

Appraising and accessioning electronic records involves four steps:

  1. Determine your stakeholders

  2. Decide what you want to acquire

  3. Develop a capture device

  4. Develop a presentation technique

There are several approaches to capturing Web content:

  • Print pages on paper. This is a stopgap measure that does not preserve Web functionality.

  • Use the "save as" command. This is labor-intensive, since you have to do this for each page. It does preserve the entire page, and the links work. If you save as an "archives page" (.mht file) the links don’t work.

  • Use Adobe Acrobat. This allows you to capture several pages automatically. The pages are searchable. However, animation is captured as a screen shot.

  • Use other software. There are a number of products available (Interwoven, IBM Content Manager, Inktomi, Webcrawler, etc.) Some of the products create proprietary file formats that may not be supported over time. Some of the other products did not maintain the links.

  • Capture the content from the source. Contact the originating departments directly. This is good for Flash files and other interactive components. (But note that Flash is a proprietary format.)

A second corporation has been building its electronic records strategy for a couple of years. The strategy involves the following components:

  • Strong policies. Global standards have been established. These policies provide authority to the archives, which can request that people be audited against the policy. Even more useful is the fact that people call the archives with questions both before and after audits.

  • Enterprise document repository. The vision is to build it once and then make it available to the entire corporation. It will be developed in-house with Documentum as the foundation.

  • Consistent metadata. This will involve establishing a taxonomy and trying to automate the metadata creation process as much as possible.

  • Annual review of electronic records. There currently are 650,000 records in the electronic document repository; 50,000 are up for file review prior to destruction. This will be the first time that the archives conducts a large electronic file review. This year it will be a manual process; in future years they hope to automate parts of the process.

  • Strategy formulation. They are creating a high-level "digital preservation strategy task force" to bring attention to the long-term issues.

The archives has identified a number of challenges in the management of electronic records:

  • Language. This is an appraisal issue because there are non-English documents in the document repository.

  • Versioning. They have found multiple copies of documents in the repository, with different retention dates for each version. Sometimes version 1 is not labeled as a version, making it possible to accession a record into the archives without realizing that other versions are coming.

  • Formats. The document repository accepts multiple formats, some of which are proprietary.

  • Encryption. The archives will have to deal with encrypted files in the repository.

  • Other electronic document repositories. Because of the corporate culture, some departments are able to continue to maintain there own electronic repositories. For example, there is a proprietary CAD system that is said to contain 5 times the data of the entire World Wide Web.

Another attendee noted that there are vendors that manage e-mail archiving. This is a large market especially for regulated environments like financial services.

Recording and Reporting Reference Statistics

The attendees had a roundtable discussion about the ways that they record and report reference statistics. Among the main points raised were:

  • Why should we report statistics? The reasons are to: educate management, justify positions or budget, or persuade people about the value of archives.

  • The statistics would be put on a database for the following reasons: searchability, tracking of requests, routing of request to staff, and to generate statistics.

  • To whom should we report statistics? Again, you have to think strategically.

  • How much detail is appropriate? Some supervisors want extensive reports, others want very little. Supervisors also want different frequencies of reports.

  • One archives doesn’t even report accessioning information – management doesn’t care about these numbers.

  • Providing samples of requests is common; a couple of archivists are required to submit all requests to their managers at the end of the month.

  • With some superiors, there are better uses of time than writing reports.

  • One archivist used reference statistics to justify the addition of a third staff member. Human Resources asked for the numbers "by the end of the day." Without a reference database, it would have been impossible to comply.

  • A second archives receives a large number of requests via the Web, but since no one asks for the information, they don’t bother to track requests.

  • A third archives divides requests into "research requests" and "research projects" (10 or more hours). They track who handles the requests, how long they take, etc. A new database tracks the reference workload of each person. Each reference requests is assigned a "level" for workload purposes (1 hour, etc.) New requests are assigned based upon existing workload. This is a Microsoft Access database.

  • A fourth archives report that "92% of requests are answered in one day." The archives’ supervisor often cites this statistic.

  • A fifth archives shares phone coverage. They discuss requests and try to figure things out collaboratively. Brainstorming also can be a staff training opportunity.

  • The larger the staff, the more important it is to have a tracking system.

Informal Salary Survey

The group asked Greg to coordinate an informal, anonymous, salary survey. The purpose was to develop information for benchmarking purposes. Salary information, especially from corporations, is almost impossible to get from professional sources.

Participants shared with Greg the salaries of the Archives Manager and the Senior Archivist. The results were:


Manager of Archives

Senior Archivist




Mean (Average)










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