It might not be Christmas yet, but we’re getting into the wrapping early. Or in this case RAP’ing.
Ok, so we’re not actually talking about wrapping presents, or the musical genre either. Here at QSA we have our own RAP, a Restricted Access Period (RAP) and that’s what we’re getting into.
RAPs are a crucial part of the work we do here at Queensland State Archives. Records in our custody must have a RAP applied to them when they’re transferred. This RAP determines if a record is open and available for the public (everyone) to access or if access is limited for a set period of time and access is only allowed with permission from the responsible agency.
Who sets this RAP, you ask? The owners of the records – also known as the responsible public authority.
Setting the RAP isn’t just something that is important when records are transferred to us. One of our main roles here is to provide access to the recorded history of Queensland available in the QSA records. To do that, we’re committed to providing more access to Queensland’s records wherever possible. In fact, we’re so committed we’ve devoted a whole project to RAPs!
So, what does this project entail? The RAP Review Project has been looking at ways to provide more access to records. At the moment, around 42% of our collection is closed under a RAP, meaning no one can access those records without permission from the responsible agency. Sometimes these records need to be closed, but not in all cases, so this project is looking at reducing that number, so we can open more records.
That’s what we want to do. Now you’re probably wondering how we intend to do that.
What we have done so far is:
- updated the information and advice available on our website about how and when to set or change a RAP
- created a practical guide on setting RAPs (kind of like a handy cheat sheet)
- updated the RAP notice form – you know, the one that you will fill out when setting or changing a RAP – so it is more meaningful for you (and us) and easier for you to fill out.
All of this is aimed at helping agencies determine if records should be open or need to be restricted.
So what’s coming up next? The next step is already underway – it involves us going through what records are closed and which ones might not need to be. Once we’ve done that, it’s over to you… well those of you who are responsible for records here at QSA. If we identify some of your records that might not need to be closed or where the RAP can be shortened, we’ll let you know and ask you to review those records to see if the RAP should be changed.
We’re pretty good at RAPs, but we don’t know your records like you do, which is why we need your help. It might be that the RAP shouldn’t change, but it’s a good opportunity to check. If you are transferring records to us in the future, think carefully about what the RAP should be. Hopefully the new resources will help.
So, watch this space for more information…we’ll keep you posted on how the unwrapping is going. And the present at the end of all this (sticking with the present unwrapping theme here) is more records for people to access.