The Department of Agriculture is historically and politically one of the key government departments it is also one of the largest a fact reflected in the amount of records and files generated in the course of its operations. The department has many large file stores; one of the largest is in Sandyford Co. Dublin containing 1,800 cubic feet of records mainly relating to the departments operations between ca.1930 and the late 1990s. During 2003 Eneclann was contracted to carry out a major survey of these records.
Among the problems identified by Eneclann were:
· Large scale ‘dumping’ of records
· Indiscriminate transfer of series – no intellectual control or appraisal
· Poor records management – no file transfer lists or file surveys
· Inadequate or inappropriate storage space
The result was a no-man’s-land of files requiring intervention in order to prevent the loss of important file series and to ensure that the department continues to meet its regulatory, legislative and administrative obligations.
Eneclann’s initial actions were to review departmental record policies and, with the input of the department, design a records management solution that dealt with the file store in Sandyford. Eneclann deployed a team of seven archivists who worked for over seven months to implement this plan and bring the extensive records store under control. The Eneclann team developed and implemented an agreed destruction schedule (with National Archives approval), listed and transferred files to the National Archives, and developed a retention schedule for future use. To date the team have listed over 50,000 files and scheduled over 100,000 files for destruction. We have also comprehensively listed a large store of Land Commission files, including deeds, title documents, maps, surveys, etc. This large-scale project involved cataloguing over 70,000 individual items over a period of 3 years. Eneclann have also prepared 5,000 files for transfer to the National Archives under the National Archives Act (1986).
Eneclann has carried out a number of projects for government departments and state agencies, the experience of the Department of Agriculture in dealing with its large record stores is fairly typical. The successful outcome of the records management project in the Department of Agriculture highlights how much can be achieved when a decision is taken to deal with the issue.
Eneclann has carried out similar projects for many government departments, references and further information available upon request.