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 renowned for being fans of the Information Management Community having been the main publishers for a lot of the books that I read as part of my Information and Records Management Career.  You can see a list of the books here.

“Information Rights for Records Managers” was published in November 2018,  approximately 6 months after the Data Protection Act 2018 became enforced in the UK.  As we know it had hung around since 2016 because of the GDPR but equally to have a book at this level of detail is a fantastic asset to any Records Manager.

The book cover for the book reviewed in this blog. It's red and has the FP for Facet Publishing on the front plus with white writing saying "Information Rights for Records Managers - Rachel Maguire"

Rachael and her Book

A little bit about the Author,  Rachael has been in the information profession for over 20 years.  I’ve known Rachael since the beginning of my career which started in 2007.  Rachael is a fabulous woman and extremely knowledgable in her field of work.  I was extremely lucky to have Rachael as one of the accreditation panel members when I received my IRMS Accreditation in 2015.

Book Background

Information Rights for Records Managers aims to be as comprehensive as possible, including coverage of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR),  so that the guidance practitioners can provide is as fully informed as possible. Content covered includes:

  • Responding to FOI requests, including exemptions, internal reviews and benchmarking
  • Coverage of DPA and GDPR regulations, where the differences lie and what the implications are for professionals operating under the acts
  • Personal data requests and enquiries under GDPR
  • Working with the European Information Regulations (EIR) and where the differences lie with FOI
  • Discussion of the two strands of records management and information rights work and how the two interact in daily work
  • Practical case studies from a range of organisations and institutions to demonstrate practice.

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 you need to download into your brain. “Information Rights for Records Managers” is littered with really useful diagrams and I implore you to have “Information Rights for Records Managers” by your office desk just for the tables and figurines alone…   My favourite tables are on page 40 and 41 where exemptions under FOI are listed and cross-reference the similarities and differences as to what section it is under FOI and FOISA and also 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 isn’t too scary with the language it uses and it keeps you in the know without excessive words. There is no legal jargon in it and so it appeals to those who do not have a legal background or understand legalise. I’m the perfect kind of reader for this book as I’m not only dyslexic but I’m also not very good with the recall of what section is what and what exemption is for who. So even though I suggest beginners, it’s actually very good for someone who just needs a quick reference guide too.

Easy Read

The book is nice and small 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 in nicely.

I note within the book that Rachael refers to most information rights folk having come from a Records Management, Information Management or Librarian background. I myself have not experienced this. Records Management just isn’t a popular topic and still today I struggle to get experienced Data Protection Professionals to do Information Asset Registers instead of just doing a Records of Processing Activity. They focus on the processing rather than on the Records/Assets themselves because that is a legal requirement. Where you need I feel in any case, 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 have 2 main criticisms; both of which revolve around the book title: “Information Rights for Records Managers” and it basically only covers in great detail the Data Protection Act 2018, Freedom of Information 2000 (and the Scottish equivalent) and the Environmental Information Regulations. Also, it’s covering of Information Law. The Rights part of it is really very small.

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 that are all information related that is covered in 10 pages. To me, it feels like it’s not enough especially when the notes page is double. To only cover such mass of legislation in 10 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 contents of the book are excellent. However, it is basically an introduction to the big 3 laws that revolve around information. It is, for all intents and purposes, an introduction to information law.  There is nothing specifically about why it should be for 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.”

This book is not just solely for a Records Manager. 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 in a council. They 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.” but when buying a book online, you’re not likely to see that back cover information and 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.

Small things

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.

Conclusion

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:

Special Offer:

Get a 40% discount off the paperback edition of “Information Rights for Records Managers” by Rachel Maguire (so you pay £41.97 rather than the RRP of £69.95). Email info@facetpublishing.co.uk and quote the code RMGIRLBLOG40 (do not supply payment card or bank account details by email). A member of the team will be in touch to process your order. This discount is available until 30 September 2020.

I give this book an 9/10,  1 mark lost for the misleading title.

In exchange for an honest and impartial review, Facet sent me this book for free. Thank you so much to Facet Publishing for sending me “Information Rights for Records Managers” for review.

Facet Publishing (FP)'s logo

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