Book Review: Information Rights for Records Managers
By Rachael Maguire
Book title: Information Rights for Records Managers |Author: Rachael Maguire | Published date:Nov 2018 |Pages: 224pp | Style available: Paperback, Hardback & Ebook
ISBN: 9781783302444 (Paperback) | Price: £69.95 | CILIP members price: £55.95
I was given the opportunity to review Rachael Maguire’s book “Information Rights for Records Managers” by Facet Publishing. Facet Publishing is well known withing the Information Management Community. They have published many of the books that I read for professional development. You can see a list of the books here.
“Information Rights for Records Managers” was published in November 2018, approximately six months after the Data Protection Act 2018 was enforced in the UK.
Rachael and her Book
Rachael has been in the information profession for over 20 years. I’ve known Rachael since I started my career back in 2007. Rachael is a fabulous woman and extremely knowledgeable in her field. I was extremely lucky to have Rachael as one of the panel members when I received my IRMS Accreditation in 2015.
Information Rights for Records Managers aims to be comprehensive. It covers the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR and aims to fully inform practitioners. Content covered includes:
- Responding to FOI requests, including exemptions, internal reviews and benchmarking
- Coverage of DPA and GDPR regulations – the differences and the implications for professionals operating under these acts
- Personal data requests and enquiries under GDPR
- Working with the European Information Regulations (EIR) and the differences from FOI
- The two strands of records management and information rights, and how the two interact in practice
- Practical case studies from a range of organisations and institutions
Tables and Figurines in this Book
I absolutely love a good figurine or a table within books especially when there is a lot of information to process. “Information Rights for Records Managers” is full of really useful diagrams. I implore you to keep “Information Rights for Records Managers” on your desk for the tables and figurines alone… My favourite tables are on page 40 and 41 which list exemptions under the FOI. Rachael cross-references similarities and differences between FOI and FOISA. She also indicates where the public interest test and prejudice test applies against each exemption. Beee-uuuua-ti-ful!
The book is a great size for a beginner to digest. The content and language is accessible. There is no legal jargon and therefore it appeals to those who do not have a legal background or understand legalise. It’s perfect for me as I’m both dyslexic and not very good with the recall of information. The book is useful for beginners and those who need a quick reference guide too.
The book is nice and compact, so it’s not too daunting. It’s a handy A5 size and about 1.5cm thick. The book has a good glue bond at the edge and is secured nicely!
In the book, Rachael refers to most information rights folk as coming from a Records Management, Information Management or Librarian background. I think this book would be great for anyone wanting to get into the Information Law profession without having to become a lawyer first.
‘What’s In A Name’
I only have two criticisms, both of which are related to the book title: “Information Rights for Records Managers”. As a small book, it only covers in great detail the Data Protection Act 2018, Freedom of Information 2000 (and the Scottish equivalent) and the Environmental Information Regulations. The coverage of Information Law is minimal.
Moreover, there is a single chapter on Access to Medical Records, Access to Local Government Records, Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations, Privacy Electronic Communication Regulations, E-privacy, Computer Misuse Act, Public Records Act, The Code of Practice for Records Management and INSPIRE regulations. These are key pieces of legislation and are covered in ten pages. To cover so much legislation in ten pages feels very short and rushed. Almost an afterthought.
A book for Records Managers?
The other criticism is that it’s not necessarily for Records Managers. The content of the book is excellent. However, it is basically an introduction to the big three laws pertaining to information. It is an introduction to information law and there is nothing specifically aimed at Records Managers.
“This book aims to fill this knowledge gap by offering a fully up to date, accessible, comprehensive guide to information rights specifically for those without a legal background.”
I feel the book may have missed a lot of its audience on the basis of the title. This could be used by someone who is a bursar in a school or by a business support officer in a council. You don’t need to be a Records Manager to read or need this book.
Do Records Managers end up in Information Rights?
It is true, in accordance with the book, that Records Managers have tended to find themselves given the responsibility. However, so have Information Governance people and Archivists. The back cover says “The book will be useful reading for all professionals in the public and private sectors who have responsibility for information rights, particularly around FOI and DPA. Its introductory nature will also mean that it will be very useful students and new professionals seeking to increase their knowledge.”. However, when buying a book online, you’re not likely to see that back cover information. You’ll only see the back cover information if the title of the book has called out to you.
In this case, I would have called the book “Information Law: A look at big 3 laws without the legalise” or “Beginners guide to Information Law”. These are probably also terrible, but all I’m saying is that it has very little to do with Records Managers. Since it has covered FOISA, I expected there to be more information about the Public Records (Scotland) Act which details a lot more about information requirements and how it complements Information Rights.
There are only 3 pages on Resources that also doesn’t cover all resources available such as IRMS and DP Forum and more. There’s also Jon Baines’s blog which is “Information Rights (and wrongs)” and it is strange that it is not mentioned (given the title) which I think is a huge shame as he is a very eloquent writer. As for the rest of the content, it’s quite frankly, bloody good. This may not be the book for you if you’re looking for records manager topics. Although you might still learn a lot. If you’re an information professional wanting to know more about Information Law then this book is for you. Don’t shy away because of the title. As someone who is a nerd across the whole information sphere, this book is awesome. I have already used it several times when needing to quickly know about comparisons between FOI and FOISA.
So my conclusion – this book is fabulous. Terrible title but the content is brilliant. As ever, the book shows just how knowledgeable Rachael Maguire is. I will never get bored reading anything Rachael writes, Rachael’s knowledge knows no bounds and is so extensive. I look forward to the next book that Rachael publishes.
You can grab this book from the Facet Website for the price of £69.95 – Unfortunately, a lot of academic books are pricey and for someone wanting to jump in on a topic such as this, it can cost them a lot of money. Since Records Managers rarely get a good salary, you might have to rely on your organisation to pay for this… However, if you buy it now, the kind people at Facet have this offer for my readership:
I give this book an 9/10, 1 mark lost for the misleading title.
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