Ever wonder what exciting new projects the many employees at NARA are working on? The “What are You Working On?” blog feature aims to introduce a variety of NARA employees and highlight some of the exciting projects we are working on around the agency. Check for this blog series on Wednesdays!
This week, we introduce Meg Phillips, Electronic Records Lifecycle Coordinator.
What is your name and title?
Meg Phillips, Electronic Records Lifecycle Coordinator
Where is your job located?
My office is at Archives II in College Park, MD. However, I actually live in Philadelphia and work part of the time from the NARA building in Northeast Philadelphia on Townsend Road. I travel back and forth from Philly to Archives II a lot!
What is your job in a nutshell?
I help NARA’s senior management with Electronic Records Archives (ERA) planning and integration of ERA into the work of the National Archives. ERA has been one of the biggest projects NARA has ever taken on and it affects the work of many different offices. My job is ensuring that all the threads come together so the agency leadership understands how the project is going and can guide it in the right direction.
What are you working on right now?
I’m focused on several big projects related to ERA, which is NARA’s critical effort to preserve electronic records, make them accessible to the public, and support scheduling and accessioning of records in all formats. I’m currently trying to make sure that NARA offices have identified their top priority needs so the most important needs get met before the current system development phase ends. We’ve made great progress with ERA and are currently relying on it to store vast numbers of Federal, Congressional, and Presidential records, but we still have work to do. For example, later this year we plan to launch a prototype of the public access interface of ERA for the public to try and comment on. We’ll also be launching an important part of our preservation strategy, a framework for migrating electronic records from obsolete formats into more accessible, modern formats. Another big thing I’m working on is helping NARA plan for full deployment of the Federal agency interface of ERA in July 2011. That will allow agencies to create records retention schedules and arrange for accession of their records to the Archives online. That will be a big moment for us and there is a lot to do to make sure it goes smoothly.
How long have you been at NARA? Have you worked at any other NARA location?
I began my NARA career in 2002 as part of the records management staff of the Mid Atlantic Region in Philadelphia. While working as the Electronic Records Project Manager and ERA Coordinator for the Office of Regional Records Services, I got to visit a lot of NARA facilities and meet the great staff in the archives, records management, and Federal Records Centers programs all over the country. I didn’t get to visit all of them, though, and so far I’ve only visited Presidential Libraries as a tourist. Someday I hope to visit even more sites.
What has changed since you started at NARA?
I’m really excited by the explosion of social media projects at NARA, and one of the biggest changes is the increased support for staff collaboration on projects. When I first started, it was a challenge to share ideas and strategies with colleagues around NARA who were working on similar projects. I think the combination of improved collaboration tools and new ideas about improving NARA’s work culture are starting to make a difference in what we can all accomplish together.
How did you end up working at NARA?
I enjoyed my previous job running the archives and records management program for a large non-profit in Philadelphia. It was a great place to work, but I didn’t have the resources to do much with electronic records. We scheduled electronic records, but we left the responsibility for maintaining the permanent ones in the hands of the creating offices. I thought it would be great to work at one of the small handful of places that had the resources and the clear mandate to figure out how to preserve permanent electronic records. When an opportunity to join the records management staff of NARA’s Mid Atlantic Region came up, I jumped at the chance to work at one of those places where important progress on electronic records could happen. The records management job description emphasized the need to advise Federal agencies on electronic recordkeeping, so I figured I’d at least have a good view of what was happening even if that wouldn’t be the main focus of my job. As I’ve changed jobs at NARA and started working more closely with the ERA project, I’ve gotten really close to one of the original reasons I wanted to work here. Of course, now I have the inside view and I know that this isn’t easy, but it’s still satisfying to remember that we’re working on a really critical problem.
What are your passions or interests outside of work?
I go sailing every chance I get! I’ve also been taking a flamenco dance class for several years and I just love it. There’s lots of rhythmic stomping and gorgeous hand movements. I’m not very good yet, but you may catch me clicking my heels on the nice hard floors at Archives II while I wait for an elevator. Sometimes I can’t resist trying to practice a new step when I think no-one is looking.
What is the last book you read, or the last book you loved?
The last book I really loved was Michael Lewis’s The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. Lewis gives a vivid, clear, and infuriating explanation of the recent financial crisis by focusing on the few guys who saw the collapse of the subprime mortgage market coming. The book I’m reading now is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. I got hooked on the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series just like half of America!
Meet more NARA employees: http://www.archives.gov/careers/employees/