Crockett, Margaret. The no-nonsense guide to archives and recordkeeping.. London: Facet Publishing, 2016. xii, 2012 p. ISBN 978-1-85604-855-2. £49.95.

Margaret Crockett, a consultant of records management based in London has produced a practical handbook that integrates several related areas: records management, archives management, and information management. The guide deals with paper and digital documents, highlighting what is common in the procedures and also providing specific advice when it is necessary. This is another integrative plane that will help to attract the attention of professionals working with both types of records.

The text takes the reader through the definitions of the main concepts in all three areas and the main actors involved in creation and use of records, setting standards for professional activities or uniting professionals in the area. The structure of the book follows the logic of the life-cycle of the record – from its creation, active life of a current record, becoming an archival record, and ending with the issues and recommendations for preservation. One can also track the main processes of management from the planning of the records management programme through the acquisition, classification, accessing and use, disposal and preparation for re-use of records. Metadata, security, appraisal, disposal, the issues of legacy systems and many other aspects of the professional records’ curation find their place in relevant chapters.

The structure of the guide makes it possible to use it as a reference book with access points to its content in many places, so that it is not necessary to read the whole text or the entire chapter for extraction of useful information or recommendations. The use of lists, tables, text boxes and other page design and structuring devices facilitate this approach to the text.

There are some very useful elements in the text that will help in professional work, namely, checklists, especially those related to various activities, such as managing current records, conducting digital records workshop, appraising records, or measures for protection against pests. Most of the tables in the text are also helping to summarise and structure useful practical information and the author uses them very imaginatively.

The text is well written by a highly competent and experienced professional. I found it quite abstract and fitting any context and any organization. There is Anglo-American bias, inevitable due to the intended geographical areas and the experience of the author, but any professional may use it for general guidance and by finding equivalent documents or acts from their own countries.

The abstract nature of the text that is its main strength can also be regarded as the main weakness as the text acquires an introductory character. Professional records managers in organizations and especially archives may not find solutions for more complex problems of their practices. However, this feature is in line with the intended audience of the practitioners that lack training in the area. To some extent the text may be used in teaching of the undergraduate students to prepare them to the practical placements or internships.

Elena Maceviciute
Swedish School of Library and Information Science
University of Borås
August, 2016