Profile on MARA Student Pamela Lutzker
Published: March 8, 2017 by Anna Maloney
“If you want to do anything with electronic records, MARA is the only way to go,” says Pamela Lutzker, who enrolled in the MARA program to refresh her RIM skills.
Before Pamela Lutzker enrolled in the Master of Archives and Records Administration program, she was a stay-at-home mom, volunteering her time to build a database of backlogged donations at her daughter’s school library. Prior to being a stay-at-home mom, she worked in quality control at an aircraft parts distribution center, where she built databases, created policies and procedures, prepared for ISO 9001/AS9100 compliance, and developed an audit program.
As she prepared to reenter the workforce, Lutzker looked for a graduate program that would help her to redevelop those skills. Like many MARA students, her research started with the Master of Library and Information Science program at San José State University, where she ultimately found that MARA would be a better fit for her interests and goals. “It was exactly what I was looking for. [I enjoy] organizing electronic information and teasing out more information about assets.”
Since joining the MARA program in the spring of 2014, Lutzker has been engaged in and amazed by the philosophy of records and information management. Although she has enjoyed all of the MARA courses, one of the most rewarding courses was MARA 204 Management of Records and Archival Institutions, taught by Jason Kaltenbacher. Projects in this course, and in MARA 210 Records Creation, Appraisal and Retention, “really made me think about how things are set up, from SWOT [Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats] to records series. Theory is wonderful, but writing papers doesn’t always sink in. Projects force you to understand.”
One of the biggest obstacles Lutzker sees businesses facing is a failure to think of information management in the long term. She strongly feels that institutions need to take the long view when organizing information and ask three important questions: 1) Where is the program going? 2) How do we get there? 3) What can we do now, so that when we get there, we don’t have problems? “My son-in-law has a BA and is working on an MBA, but there was no conversation about records and it wasn’t part of the curriculum. How can you run a business without that?” Lutzker asks.
In addition to developing her knowledge of RIM practices, Lutzker was able to supplement her background in database creation with MLIS courses in HTML and web design, database management, text and data mining, and metadata. Her mind is “more geared toward electronic things.”
Lutzker has utilized her course work and her previous technical experience while serving as the student project coordinator for the International Directory of National Archives. The IDNA project (https://idnaproject.org/), which was formally launched in the fall of 2016, will result in a reference book that will serve as a single source for national archives around the globe.
As the student project coordinator for the inaugural semester (she used the position to substitute the MARA internship requirement), Lutzker gained invaluable experience in project management, online research, and information gathering. This semester, she has taken on a research role, writing entries for Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. She hopes to stay with the project through its completion in December 2017, especially as student and alumni researchers begin to tackle the more challenging entries. Once the project is completed, Lutzker hopes to build an online database of national archives. “Database engineering starts from the beginning, pulling information together and setting up relationships. IDNA is looking at what exists now, in the middle of the information lifecycle.”
Lutzker has taken advantage of every opportunity the MARA program has afforded her. Looking toward the future of the profession, she predicts that models of physical records and artifacts management will be relegated to the past, while the work of libraries, archives, and museums becomes more integrated and reliant on electronic management techniques. And for future RIM students, she has one recommendation: “If you want to do anything with electronic records, MARA is the only way to go.”