MARA Program Advisory Committee Member
MARA Program Advisory Committee member Geof Huth has decades of experience in the field of Records and Information Management and is an authority on best practices in records management in government. He currently serves as the Chief Records Officer of the New York State Unified Court System, ensuring that records support the efficient functioning of the court system as a whole. His office provides direct advisory services, retention scheduling, records center services, publications, and workshops to the thousands of individual courts in his state. Geof speaks frequently across the state and around the country about records management and archives. His publications include Preparing for the Worst: Managing Records Disasters and Conducting Needs Assessments for New Recordkeeping Systems. He has worked on the editorial boards that created the Glossary of Records and Information Management Terms (ARMA) and the forthcoming online Dictionary of Archives Terminology (SAA). Forthcoming in 2016 is his Appraising Digital Records, a module in SAA’s Trends in Archives Practice.
As a manager and administrator, Geof’s daily responsibilities consist largely of human interaction. He points out that, contrary to what some might think, the field of Records and Information Management is not a way to avoid humans. On the contrary, Geof spends much of his time working with staff, in both scheduled and unscheduled meetings, to manage whatever challenges they are facing.
In the field of Records and Information Management Geof values information not for its own sake but for its importance in human interaction and communication. He is interested in the ways in which information is recorded and delivered, not primarily for its historical value but in order to serve the human enterprise. Geof understands his work as the codification of knowledge, that is, to develop order, procedure, and regularity. Beyond the tools used to effect these results—such as retention and disposition schedules—he looks at systems broadly and how they could work better, so that they meet the information needs of his agency as well as the agencies it serves. Taken together, the governmental agencies with which he works can be understood as an archive or storage area for information, all tangibly and directly connected in complex ways through information.
As part of a government entity and as a Records and Information Management professional, his ultimate goal is service to people. In the end, the organizations with which he works are conglomerations of individuals. Geof argues that in order to succeed, information and knowledge professionals must focus on service.
Geof advises prospective Records and Information Management professionals to have dreams and work to realize them but to also be open to opportunity. Opportunity may not always align closely with one’s initial plans—and may be on the other side of the country—but being flexible and taking advantage of the opportunities that arise can lead to unexpected success. He also recommends diversifying in terms of knowledge and skills. In knowledge professions such as Records and Information Management, having broad rather than narrow interests can help you understand more types of industries, including their ways of communicating and their particular information needs. He believes that these two traits of openness and diversification can open up new, unexpected professional opportunities.