Social relevance and the professionalization of records management

Toward a code of ethics: Social relevance and the professionalization of records management

Pemberton, J Michael

Being a “professional” means more than merely being an expert in one’s chosen field. No occupation – including information and records management – can successfully lay claim to professional status without a clear commitment to issues and concerns that affect the larger society. The key to establishing a field’s social relevance lies in development, maintenance, interpretation, and application of a meaningful code of ethics. Only when such a code is valued and acted on by practitioners of information and records management can lay persons and one’s fellow managers understand the value system and importance of this growing field.

Being a “professional” must be a very desirable status since everyone today claims to be one. There are professional beauticians, professional carpet cleaners, professional roofing contractors, professional masseurs, professional dry cleaners, and professional typists. Most records managers would scoff at the idea of being considered a professional in the same category with, say, a carpet cleaner. By the same token, however, physicians and attorneys are not likely to see records managers as professionals – compared to themselves. The question of whether or not records management is, strictly speaking, a “profession” has been explored in depth at least once before.’ More important than a precise distinction as to whether or not an individual is a professional are other issues, such as what are the criteria for an occupation to achieve professional status? Of obvious importance here is the question of where records management is in its ongoing quest for professional status. Most importantly, how can it enhance its professional standing in society?

Overview of the Professional Model

First, it is important to overcome widespread misunderstanding of what the terms “professional” and “profession” mean. As often applied by the general public – and those who aspire to professional status – the term may refer primarily to the technical expertise with which one’s work is accomplished (“he did that so professionally”) or to the level of effectiveness and care one demonstrates when performing a task (“we clean your clothes professionally”). This persistent approach has led to such ridiculous expressions as “professional textile rental service” and “professional armored car service.” The term is also often used to differentiate an “amateur” from the highly paid “professional” athlete. Speaking precisely, “professionalism” refers to an individual’s psychological perspective about his work, not to the status of an occupation. These various abuses of the term “professional” may also lead to the assumption that any knowledgeable, skilled, or well paid occupation can easily assume the title of “profession.”

Can one become a professional simply by calling one’s occupational group a profession? No more than pitching your tent next to a castle makes you king. Nor does simply “behaving” professionally make one a member of a profession. As yet, there is no government agency or foundation that certifies groups as professions. Only society can do that, and it takes a long time. The field of medicine, for example, has needed centuries to evolve from hit-or-miss techniques to a body of knowledge with a reasonably scientific basis. It is all too easy to forget that today’s highly skilled surgeon was long ago little more than a moonlighting barber with a set of sharp razors.

Over the past 60 years, the branch of sociology which studies work groups and professions has identified characteristics of established professions, those occupations which society itself has sanctioned as professions. Taken together, these characteristics form a useful model to gauge the progress of any occupation toward becoming a profession. This lengthy process of becoming a profession is known as “professionalization.” The extent, then, to which an emerging profession is perceived to have achieved genuine professional status can be measured in terms of the progress it has made toward attainment of the characteristics of the professional model.

Regardless of which version of the professional model one prefers, and there are several,2 all established professions share the following characteristics:

1. They are undergirded by an organized body of specific knowledge which includes theoretical principles as well as specific, practical skills. This specialized knowledge serves as one source of legitimization for the profession’s authority.

2. A profession demands a period of education and training whose dimensions are clearly defined by the profession itself. Increasingly, this educational experience takes place in a university environment and at a post-baccalaureate level. The training includes abstract and theoretical knowledge as well as the more technical skills of the field.

3. Though abuses of the principle may occur, the practitioners of a profession have client service as their primary, or central, motivation rather than financial reward or increased status in society.

4. Community endorsement of a profession becomes strong enough over time so that the profession achieves the autonomy to set its own educational standards, curriculum accreditation, and a legally sanctioned licensing or certification system. This licensing system has the force of law in that no one can practice the occupation without proper credentials.

5. As priests and ministers are said to be “called” to the ministry practitioners of any profession are drawn to it at some level of intensity which assumes a longterm personal commitment to the field.

6. Within each profession there develops a professional subculture which consists of values – not simply techniques – shared by all the profession’s practitioners. This sense of community is characterized by features such as a common vocabulary, a sense of common occupational identity, and a shared sense of direction.

7. To be recognized as a profession by society, a profession’s value system must have a relationship to values held by members of society outside the profession. The would-be profession must be able to show commitment through actions to these broader values. Society understands, for example, that the commitment of physicians and nurses to the broader values of health care transcends service to immediate clients or merely earning a fee.

8. To enunciate its points of contact with basic social values and to remind its practitioners and clients of the profession’s commitment to such values, a profession develops a formal or an unwritten code of ethics, a code which is more systematic, broad, and binding on members than the codes of ethics of occupations or unions. The ethical code exists to instill the profession’s value system and social commitment into its practitioners, though it may be used to regulate actions of its members as well.3

At this point in its development, the records management field is not in an effective position to control directly many of the elements in the professional model. Unlike medicine, law, and librarianship, for example, there is no single universally recognized and required educational credential for the practice of records management. The field does not have the influence sufficient to persuade universities to provide a mandated curriculum. There is, as yet, little hard evidence that client service is the primary motivating factor for being a records manager. Unlike a variety of other professions (e.g., law, medicine, nursing), the field has not yet received sufficient community endorsement to set up a licensing system which requires a prescribed education credential from programs accredited by a professional association. Nor is there the requirement of passing an examination to be legally licensed. While the Certified Records Manager (CRM) credential is helpful in many ways, there are no laws requiring the CRM for practice as a records manager.4

A rigorous review of the elements of the professional model above suggest that there are some limits to what those within the field or in ARMA International can do to accelerate the professionalization process. It is also clear, however, that the field, through ARMA International as its professional association, can develop and to some extent insist upon adherence to a wide-ranging and meaningful code of ethics, a code which can, in turn, lead to the eventual fulfillment of some of the other elements of the professional model.5 Related groups, such as the American Library Association, the Society of American Archivists, and the Data Processing Management Association have developed such codes, and there is no reason why ARMA International cannot do so as well.

Society and the Code of Ethics

In achieving greater recognition as a profession, two related factors can most benefit information and records management: demonstration of the relevance of this field to social values and the development of a code of ethics which embodies those values. A standard definition of “profession” notes that it “involves the application of aspects of society’s basic values” [emphasis supplied].6 The codification of the profession’s relationship with its larger society is accomplished through the principles in its written code of ethics, which is developed, interpreted, and augmented by the group’s professional association.

At a time when public and media discussions of ethics focus on activities related to areas of direct misconduct, such as lying, cheating, and stealing, it is important to recall that the concept of “professional ethics” encompasses far more than mere avoidance of wrong doing. The scope of “professional ethics,” in fact, covers additional obligations of a higher order than behavior..

An important element of many professions’ codes of ethics – known as “social ethics”7 incorporates values, principles, and aspirations which speak directly to the social relevance of the profession in addition to and separately from that part of the code which may regulate conduct and behavior. Social ethics, then, should not be confused with ethics related to morality, religion, or philosophy.

Regardless of how useful their technical skills may be, an occupational group which has no broad relevance to society and the common good will never be granted the status and admiration that society provides those groups it accepts as professions. While expanding and updating one’s work knowledge and skills is important and commendable, there is far more to being a member of a recognized profession than possessing skills which may impress only one’s work associates.

Such a distinction is easy to demonstrate in the context of records management. Which seems more professional in character: becoming an in-house expert on a new optical disc technology, or refusing to turn over records demanded by your organization’s CEO, who you know plans to use them for illegal or immoral purposes? Which is more professional: finding an innovative way to deal with a persistent filing problem, or working to create and implement policies to protect the right to privacy of the clients and staff of your organization? To those who believe that “professionalism” means only becoming more adept at the skills of their trade, society’s historical message is clear: “Your occupation can never become a profession.” Beyond that, to assume that one’s ethical commitment and obligations extend solely to one’s work environment or merely to one’s professional association is, we believe, a dangerously narrow view.

To become recognized, valued, and respected as a profession, an occupation must demonstrate that it can and does serve some cause greater than merely making (or saving) money for its clients. Historically, the professions of law, medicine, nursing, and the ministry have done this to the satisfaction of the public. Saving souls and lives, creating and enforcing laws for the common good, correcting injustice, and offering comfort in times of disaster or tragedy – these are activities which serve the public welfare. We all admire the U.S. physician, for example, who went to the U.S.S.R. to treat victims of radiation poisoning in Chernobyl. We respect the dentist who gives up his annual vacation to treat those in need in Central America. It is difficult not to admire the minister who spends much of his time in work with the homeless.8

As records management continues to aspire to enhanced professional status, it is time to ask what records managers should do to capture the public’s attention, to inspire public trust and admiration, to earn the understanding and respect of society. To the broader public, saving records is not as important as saving lives. Ensuring proper retention of records does not quite have the public appeal of ensuring justice. To what extent do some or all of the functions and value of records management – as reflected in ARMA International’s current code of ethics serve the larger public good?

The ARMA International Code of Ethics

Because it must be updated to reflect developing societal concerns, a profession’s code of ethics undergoes continuous review and development. The code of ethics sponsored by ARMA International, however, has not been substantially revised in over 20 years. More importantly, it fails to address any issues of broad social importance. Its latest text (1989) is provided here:

I, as a member of the Association of Records Managers and Administrators Inc., and in accordance with its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, acknowledge that:

I have an obligation to other members of this Association, my country, my employers, and my fellow employees, to contribute, whenever possible, to the promotion of the profession of records management, especially through training, study, education, and research;

I have an obligation to share and disseminate accurate knowledge of the various areas of records management;

That I have an obligation to maintain and enhance the reputation of the Association by exemplary conduct and performance of duties to the best of my ability;

I further acknowledge that I must make an earnest effort, as a matter of integrity, to fulfill these obligations.9

While a code of ethics may be an appropriate element of the bylaws of ARMA International, it is not loyalty to ARMA International, to one’s employer, or even to records management as a calling that should characterize the focus of a code of ethics for contemporary information and records management. “The professional is expected above all to be loyal to the ideas, ethics, and standards [emphasis supplied] of [his] profession rather than to the employer…”‘o It seems clear, then, that loyalty to “ideas, ethics, and standards” requires a much higher demand on the practitioner’s loyalty than that just to the field or the professional association.

What is very much needed is a clear commitment by records managers to basic and noncontroversial principles which transcend time and reach well beyond the limitations of the work place. Such principles must say to society and to those they work with: ‘This is where we stand.” In its present state, however, the written code of ethics for the field of information and records management seems more like a loyalty oath for a trade union member than a code of ethics for a member of a profession.

Ethical Codes of Other Information Professions

As part of a new direction, we can look to the codes of ethics of other fields in the information professions. For example, the code of ethics for librarians in the U.S. has been available since 1939, and the “Statement on Professional Ethics,” revised and adopted by the Council of the American Library Association (ALA) in 1981, commits librarians to several specific functions of societal value which extend in importance beyond the day-to-day operation of libraries. For example, the librarian protects the interests of citizens and society through:

1. Resisting all forms of censorship and abridgements of intellectual freedom.

2. Ensuring their users’ rights to privacy “with respect to information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, or acquired.”

3. Subordinating personal interests to those of their clientele and institutions. II

Ultimately, it is the librarian’s social and thus ethical – responsibility to ensure the right of all persons to have access to information that can enhance or enrich their roles as citizens, students, or workers. These social obligations facilitate librarianship’s ongoing passage through the professionalization process, and ALA’s standing Committee on Professional Ethics continues its attention to the code of ethics through interpretation, explanation, and additions.

Founded some 60 years after the American Library Association, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) has also developed and approved (1980) a “Code of Ethics for Archivists”Iz with some broad-reaching societal implications. These include:

1. Making available as widely as possible records of value.

2. Doing all possible to protect the physical and intellectual value of records in their care for society’s future use.

3. Protecting the rights of individuals by refusing to reveal information from restricted records holdings.

4. Performing their functions in the contexts both of institutional policy and statutory responsibility.

The SAA code, like that issued by ALA, is under ongoing review and development.

There are at least two areas common to the librarians and the archivists’ codes of ethics which have widespread social application: the commitment to facilitating access to information and the protection of the privacy rights of individuals.3 We believe that both these ethical areas have important implications in the field of information and records management as well.

Every profession has issues about which its members are passionate. In their literature and from positions taken in the media and congressional testimony, it is clear that librarians, for example, are quite zealous about the social ideals they uphold. In battling censorship and other abridgements of intellectual freedom or in refusing to permit invasion of privacy even with the threat of confronting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – the commitment of the professional librarian is well documented.l4 It is those ethical issues of concern common to both librarians and members of society that most inflame librarians. Also, it is only in these areas not procedures, techniques, and technologies – where members of society and members of a profession will find an intersection of interests. What passions, what social issues, what ethical concerns, do the public and records managers share? A Role for

ARMA International

It is far more important, in fact, that records managers have a code of ethics which reflects their obligation to protect the interests of society than it is for librarians and archivists to have such a code. This is the case simply because the activities involved with the creation, storage, retrieval, dissemination, use, and disposition of personal records more nearly touch the lives of all citizens in all countries than do the activities of librarianship or archival science. While not all persons actively make use of libraries or archival collections, all persons, by the very nature of their existence, are participants in the records process through their birth and death records, school records, work records, health and insurance records, vehicle records, and in many cases legal, marital, military, and pension records.

Unlike other fields, such as librarianship, archival science, data processing,ls MIS,16 information science,l7 and engineering,ls the field of information and records management has yet to address fully its broader social roles, functions, and benefits. We believe that the reason for not having done so in the past is the necessary focus in such a young field on the techniques and technologies needed to develop its initial knowledge base. Clearly, however, records managers have and are obliged to identify and actively respond to social concerns and responsibilities. It is, of course, the role of ARMA International to lead in such an effort and to use identified patterns of social responsiveness to advance the field’s professional interests.

Although some records management textbooks mention that records management has social responsibilities, they fail to provide specific illustrations. We should consider examples of how management of the recordkeeping process can be made more meaningful in a societal context. Such examples can, in turn, help establish an ethical pattern that will provide greater momentum along the path toward professional status. Below is a brief list of records related activities, projects, and accomplishments which suggest that information and records management does have a calling to increasingly higher levels of social responsibility

Examples of Benefits of Recordkeeping to Society

Many important stories that break into the media do not focus on the relevance of records to the event or discovery. Nevertheless, records may easily be seen to have a societal impact. One can pick up almost any newspaper or magazine today to validate this assertion. The following represent but a few examples:

1. Many remember the tragic deaths of the U.S. Marines in Beirut, but few know that rapid identification of the bodies was made possible because of a Computer Assisted Retrieval (CAR) records system. The speed of this records system allowed the Marine Corps to tell anxious families more quickly if their relatives were among the casualties 20

2. The only way Vietnam veterans can prove exposure to Agent Orange and receive compensation is through access to records maintained at the U.S. National Archives.

3. The eventual downfall of the late Ferdinand Marcos, Philippine dictator, began with the use of U.S. Army Intelligence records disproving his fraudulent claim to be a WW II freedom fighter.

4. Only through access to carefully maintained records have Japanese Americans (Nisei) interned in the U.S. during WWII been able to document their claims for compensation.

5. A variety of Nazi war criminals have been traced over the years from clues provided from records maintained at the Berlin Document Center (U.S. Department of State). 21

6. The people of El Salvador were able to conduct their first fraud-free national elections in 1984 only because of microfilming birth and death records and creating a computerized registry of eligible voters.22

7. Through a computerized system of over 30 million records maintained by the Red Cross, thousands of German families separated during WWII have been reunited.”

8. Many of the more than 10,000 “disappeared ones” in Argentina had children kidnaped or born in captivity. Hundreds of these children have been returned to their legitimate families through comparing original birth certificates against falsified ones.24

These few examples25 suggest service to society that reaches far beyond the dayto-day concerns or techniques of the workplace, and they are examples which all individuals can understand and appreciate. While positive private-sector examples are less publicized, there is a well documented acceleration of interest in meaningful corporate codes of ethics whose parameters include positive stances on social responsibilities.26 We believe that through activities and services which have broader, societal-level implications the public can better understand the deeper values of the records management field and that the frequent public image of records work as being dull, tedious, clerical, or inconsequential can be offset by an increase in the respect and support extended to more widely recognized professions.

Toward a New Code of Ethics for Records Managers

A code of ethics should have at least two categories of precepts: (1) those which encourage a high standard of normative behavior on the part of practitioners toward their clients/employers and toward each other,” and (2) those which articulate the group’s social values, which, in turn, underlie the value of the group to society and cause society to appreciate the group. Since it is the responsibility of a professional association to sponsor, develop, publish, and interpret a code of ethics, we can only suggest some basic tenets from the sphere of social ethics applicable in both the public and private sectors – which indicate directions a new code might take:

1. Within justified legal, proprietary, and national defense constraints, practitioners of information and records management support the principle of the free flow of and access to information in society as a necessary condition for an informed populace and maintenance of democratic processes.

2. Practitioners of information and records management support the principle that information must be created and maintained as credibly and as accurately as possible to protect the rights of those about whom information is gathered.

3. Ensuring the accuracy and reliability of information is ultimately the responsibility of in-formation and records management professionals. Practitioners of information and records management, therefore, reject delegation of final responsibility for the quality of information resources to clerical-level personnel or to impersonal mechanical systems, such as computers.

4. Collection of information about persons is held to be a privilege in trust, and thus practitioners of information and records management uphold the basic rights to privacy of all individuals, including their right to be free from all improper, illegal, and unnecessary use of information about them.

5. Practitioners of information and records management unequivocally condemn the development or continued use of any information collection systems or procedures which dehumanize any person or expose any individual to prejudice or harassment resulting from outdated, erroneous, or misleading information.

6. Practitioners of information and records management unequivocally condemn and stand ready to resist with all means possible the illegal, unethical, or immoral use of information by any person against another person, by an organization against an individual, or an organization against another organization.

7. Practitioners of information and records management are responsible members of society and insist on compliance with statutory and regulatory law related to the creation, storage, use, conversion, and destruction of recorded information. They strongly resist, therefore, any pressure or subornation to mishandle or misuse information or records – even when proper handling may have an adverse affect on the organizations for which they work.2

We hope these few precepts will stimulate further thought and discussion. The social values they address can exemplify possible directions for a new code of ethics for information and records management.

The Next Steps

It takes many years for an occupation to achieve genuine professional status. This has been true for those occupations society now universally accepts as professions (e.g., law and medicine). The case will not be different for records management. While there are no timesaving short cuts that guarantee an occupation reduced time as a probationer in the professionalization process, the development, adoption, review, and maintenance of a thoughtful and thorough code of ethics by the professional association can have a positive effect. Particularly when the work and language of the field is technical or arcane, the written code of ethics may be the sole point of contact, or bridge, between the profession and the larger society. Without such a bridge, society may have little hope of understanding the social value of the profession. It seems likely that members of a profession who deny the importance of a broad based written code of ethics state clearly that they do not care whether society or those they work with understand or accept their principles or values.

At least three things are needed to carry forward the work of developing a new code of ethics for information and records management. First, a significant number of persons in the field must realize the desirability of having such a code. Second, ARMA International, as the field’s professional association, must formally endorse and sponsor development of such a code, one which can have true international application. Third, a standing committee consisting of knowledgeable persons in the field must be given a mandate to develop and maintain the code over time. This group will wish to address at least two types of principles: those which relate to right and wrongful conduct by practitioners and those which address the relationship of the field’s value system to the larger society. (While both are important, the latter has been our concern here.) Whether or not ARMA International wishes to sponsor a professional standards review process to handle alleged breaches of professional conduct as DPMA and ALA have considered doing* is a matter for review. Since many other professional organizations have devised formal processes to develop and review their society-responsive codes, the development task for ARMA International would be considerably easier.

For those who find the prospect of defining the values of records management to society to be too abstract and cannot see “what’s in it for me” in developing a code of ethics, a word of caution may be valuable. In our increasingly litigious age, members of occupational groups tend to lose law suits (e.g., malpractice and other torts) when their work can be shown to fall below “the standard of care” which, for that field, should have been given by the practitioner. The standard of care rests with the standards of the field at large, and these are often rooted in the professional standards enunciated in the field’s ethical code. Without a code of ethics which is sufficiently detailed and comprehensive in scope, the standard of care for a records manager in a given situation may be too easily interpreted and possibly distorted by those whose understanding of the principles of information and records management is limited.

We believe the early adoption by the records management community through ARMA International of a code of ethics which has both behavioral and social elements is needed to help explain the field’s responsibilities and value to society. While upholding and advancing the principles of the code could do much to further understanding of records management in the larger socio-political arena, it will be just as important to some records management practitioners that the code can increase understanding of their field among those general managers whom we believe need to understand better the central value system of the field as well as its more obvious management goals. There has been an accelerating interest by the public in ethical behavior and by senior corporate managers of larger companies in ethical codes. Given these interests, an effort now to develop a fresh, strong, and effective approach to a code of ethics for the field of information and records management would be quite timely


1. Anne Craig Humphreys, “Records Managers as Professionals: A Sociological Perspective.” Records Management Quarterly, 18,

iii (July 1984), 16-20.

2. There are several helpful approaches to and descriptions of the professional model in the literature of sociology (e.g., see items by Greenwood, Etzioni, Volmer and Mills, Moore, and Cullen in the Bibliography below).

3. The outline of the model used here is based closely on that provided by Ronald L. Pavalko, Sociology of Occupations and Professions (Itasca, IL: F E. Peacock, 1971), pp. 16-27.

4. Despite its positive tone, a brief comparison by an ARMA past president of the current status of the records management field to the fiveelement Greenwood professional model (see Bibliography) fully supports the view that the field has, as yet, come only a short distance in the professionalization process (Martin Richelsoph, “Chairman ‘s Letter,”” ARMA International, News, Notes, and Quotes, 14, iv [September 1989], 3).

5. In an effective parallel argument, Robert E. Cleary suggests that the code of ethics enacted in 1984 by the American Society for Public Administration has provided a significant momentum in professionalization for public administrators (“A Code of Ethics,” Bureaucrat, 18, i [Spring 1989], 17-19).

6. Thomas Ford Hoult, ed., Dictionary of Modern Sociology (Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams, 1977), p. 251.

7. See “social ethics,” Henry Pratt Fairchild, ed., Dictionary of Sociology (Totowa, NJ: Littlefield, Adams & Co., 1970), p. 282; a deeper treatment is Robert T. Harris, Social Ethics (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1962).

8. J. Michael Pemberton, “Records Management, Professionalism, and Social Values,” Records Management Quarterly, 21, iv (October, 1987), 50.

9. ARMA International, Administrative Letters, No.101 (“Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws”), Effective Date: August 21, 1989.

10. Hoult, pp. 251-252.

11. “Statement on Ethics and Librarians’ Code of Ethics,” American Libraries, 13, ix (October 1982), 595.

12. David E. Horn, “Ethics for Archivists: The SAA’s Code and Comments — A Special Edition with Introduction,” privately issued, August, 1988, and revised August, 1989; the code and commentary were originally published as [SAA] Code of Ethics Task Force, A Code of Ethics for Archivists,” American Archivist, 43, iii (Summer 1980), 414-418.

Note also Anne Cooke, “A Code of Ethics for Archivists: Some Points of Discussion,” Archives and Manuscripts [Australia], 15, i (1987), 95-104.

13. In this vein, see recent articles on related records management issues by McAdam and Rea in the Bibliography, below.

14. “Librarians Attack FBI Program at House Subcommittee Hearing,” American Libraries, 19, ii (July-August 1988), 562. This widely publicized problem involved the FBI asking librarians to violate their code of ethics, including the principle of intellectual freedom, by spying on and reporting “suspicious-looking” library users who might be Soviet spies.

15. Mark S. Frankel, “In Search of

Professionalism,” Data Management, 20, viii (August, 1982), 21-24 and Donald J. Berardo, “Professionalism: Are DPers Up a Tree Without It?” Data Management 20, viii (August 1982), 2829,33. Frankel, a student of ethics in professions, provides here an exceptionally clear rationale for technical fields having a code of ethics which is consistent with the values of society. Bernardo’s approach stresses greater attention to the human and societal aspects of data processing as a means of clarifying the field’s ultimate goals. See also Bill Zauld, IBM Chief Urges DP Education, Social Responsibility,” Data Management, 22, viii (September 1984), 30, 74; David Whieldon, “Ethics: MIS/DP’s New Challenge (Seventh in the 1984 Series of Roundtables),” Computer Decisions, 16, xiii (October 1984), 92-98,102,104, 108, 110.

16. G. J. Bologna, “The Ethics of Managing Information,”Journal of Systems Management, 38, viii (August 1987), 28-30; Jeffry Beeler, “MIS Has Its Insiders, Too,” Computerworld, 21, ix (March 2, 1987), 56, 63.

17. Manfred Kochen, “Ethics and Information Science,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 38, iii (May 1987), 206-210; Julia C. Blixrud, and Edmond J. Sawyer, “A Code of Ethics for ASIS: The Challenge Before Us,” Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science, 11, i (October 1984), 8-10; and Rafael Capurro, “Moral Issues in Information Science,” Stockholm: Royal Institute of Technology, 1985, ERIC Document No. 293551.

18. Leon Tabak, “Giving Engineers a Positive View of Social Responsibility,” SIGCSE Bulletin, 20, iv (December 1988), 29-31,37 and E. E. Slower and A. G. Oldenquist, “Chemical Engineering Ethics. II. One Code of Ethics for All Engineers,” Chemical Engineering Progress, 77, i (January 1981), 24-30.

19. Mary E. Robek, Gerald F Brown and Wilmer O. Maedke. Information and Records Management, 3rd ed. (Encino, CA. Glencoe,1987), p. 8.

20. Douglas B. McAllister, “CAR System Helps Marines Identify Beirut Casualties,” Journal of Information and Image Management, 17, ii (February 1984), 26-28.

21. George C. Browder, “Problems and Potentials of the Berlin Document Center,” Central European History, 5, iv (1972), 362-380.

22. Lee O. Pendergraft, CRM, “El Salvador Project – Keys to Fraudulent-free 1984 Elections: Team Training, Microfilm, CAR,” IMC Journal, 21, ii (Second Quarter, 1985), 22-26.

23. John Dornberg, “The Long Search for the Millions Uprooted by War,” Smithsonian, 8, xi (1978), 100-113.

24. Vance Muse, “Tearful Trial: Argentina’s Lost Children Go Home,” Life, 11, ix (August 1988), 78-82.

25. For assistance in developing this list our thanks go to Dr. Frank G. Burke, erstwhile Archivist of the United States and currently Professor, College of Library and Information Science, the University of Maryland, College Park.

26. Alexander Horniman. “Ethics Codes

Spread Despite Skepticism,” The Wall Street Journal, July 15,1988, p.15; Vernon R. Loucks, Jr., “A CEO Looks at Ethics,” Business Horizons, 30, ii (March-April 1987), 2-6; Patrick E. Murphy, “Creating Ethical Corporate Structures,” Sloan Management Review, 30, ii (Winter 1989), 8147.

27. An essay suggesting a code of ethics for records managers, one which stresses normative, behavioral aspects is Tom Lovett, “Is Your Organization Equipped to Handle More Information?” Modern Office and Data Management [Australia] 21, ii (March 1982), 35-36.

28. Several of the precepts suggested here are derived from a stimulating and timeless essay by Richard H. Lytle, “Ethics of Information Management,” Records Management Quarterly, 4, iv (October 1970), 5-8. Despite his excellent suggestions for modification, the ARMA code of ethics has escaped little more than minor textual adjustments during the 20 years since publication of Lytle’s article.

29. See Bruce E. Spiro, et al, “A Report on Enforcing DPMA Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct,” Data Management,20, v (May 1982), 32A et seq and Anne Marie Allison, “Ethics. Yes! Enforcement, No – or Maybe?” Library Administration and Management, 1, I (January 1987), 9-15. Discussion of ethical issues related to librarianship has led to a book-length study by Jonathan A. Lindsey and Anne E. Prentice, Professional Ethics and Librarians (Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press,1985).


Allison, Anne Marie. “Ethics, Yes! Enforcement, No – or Maybe?” Library Administration and Management, 1, i (January 1987), 9-15.

Berardo, Donald J. “Professionalism: Are DPers Up a Tree Without It?” Data Management, 20, viii (August 1982), 28-29, 33.

Browder, George C. “Problems and Potentials of the Berlin Document Center,” Central European History, 5, iv (1972), 362-380.

Capurro, Rafael. “Moral Issues in Information Science.” Stockholm: Royal Institute of Technology 1985. ERIC Document No. 293551.

Cullen, John B. The Structure of Professionalism: A Quantitative Examination. Princeton, NJ: Petrocelli Books, 1978.

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AUTHORS: At the time of publication of this article, J. Michael Pemberton was an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Tennessee and is Director of the Center for Information Studies there. He teaches in such areas as records management, archives and manuscripts, information technologies, and the management of information organizations. Dr. Pemberton is President of Information Management Associates Inc., a records management consulting firm. As a consultant, he has developed records management programs in universities and local governments.

He has been an English instructor at the university level, a librarian, an archivist, and he was his university’s first Records Management Officer. He has been awarded grants to study several aspects of records management, including university records management and forms design and management.

Dr. Pemberton has been active in ARMA International at the local and international levels. He was President of the East Tennessee Chapter from 1982 to 1984 and Chapter Member of the Year in 1983. He has served as chair of ARMA’s Education Committee and of the Industry Action Program group for Educators. In 1987 he was given an ARMA award for Exceptional Contribution to the Industry Action Program.

Dr. Pemberton has been the author or editor of numerous books and articles in such diverse areas as American literature, librarianship, records management, and information science. In July of 1987, he was named a contributing editor to Records Management Quarterly for which he reviews audiovisual materials.

He holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in English, a Masters in Library and Information Science, and a Doctorate in English.

At the time of publication of this article, Lee O. Pendergraft, CRM, was an independent records and information resources consultant based in Miami, Florida. His company provides services ranging from systems analysis and design, training, full project implementation and management. Lee currently works with South Florida municipalities and teaches at Miami-Dade Community College. In 1983 he was a project director involved in design training, implementation, and management of microfilming birth, death, and adoption records for the country of El Salvador. The project was in support of the 1984 presidential elections there.

Lee has more than 11 years of project management experience, including five years as an instructor for several different micrographics and records management seminars and courses. He holds a Bachelors degree from St. Thomas University in Miami, and has been a CRM since 1984. Articles by Pendergraft have appeared in several trade and industry periodicals.

Copyright Association of Records Managers and Administrators Inc. Oct 1998

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