Meet the Staff Feature: Devon Henschel

For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.

Name: Devon Henschel

Title: Records Management Archivist

Specialties: Local government records management and training

How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?

I received my undergraduate degree in Anthropology, with a concentration in Museum Studies, from the University of Alabama. Despite my degree being in Anthropology, most of my work experience is with libraries, both public and academic. Many of the skills I developed in my library positions, especially my attention to detail and ability to walk patrons through obscure or complicated processes they don’t have to deal with every day, have been a great benefit in my current work at the ADAH. The ADAH was already on my radar as a great historical resource in the state, and this job proved to be great opportunity to combine my interests and experience to help create and preserve what will become the historical record, while putting to use the detail-oriented mindset I’ve fostered in the library world.

What is your role?

I work primarily with local governments and the records they create. In the future, I will be training public officials, especially local agencies, on managing their records – how to organize, store, and permanently preserve permanent records or eventually dispose of temporary records in accordance with the Record Disposition Authority (RDA) and with destruction notices. Though there are only fifteen local RDAs, they are organized by type so that each one covers a multitude of individual agencies. Think about how many schools there are in Alabama – the RDA for Boards of Education applies to all of them. The same concept applies to the RDAs for Municipalities, governing local governments, and to Law Enforcement Agencies, governing local police departments and county sheriff’s offices. Those fifteen local RDAs keep me busy!

What is something people don’t know about the Records Management Section?

Just how much we deal with! Many people don’t think about how many records government agencies produce in a given year. We’re here to help them wade through all of it, armed with an RDA. As support staff for the State Records Commission and Local Government Records Commission, we are responsible for creating and revising these RDAs in cooperation with agencies, ultimately outlining what records need to be kept and for how long. Right now, our section works with everyone from large state agencies like the Office of Information Technology, to small state agencies like the Multiple Needs Child Office, to local agencies such as the Lakeview Fire Protection District, all while keeping in the back of our minds that we’ll need to create new RDAs with new agencies like the Bicentennial Commission. There’s something new every day, and I love the variety.

For people who don’t think about their records every day, why is records management important?

Many employees – and especially state employees – produce and accumulate an enormous amount of records. These might range from historically significant documents, such as meeting minutes, to less important records, like potluck fliers and the internet printouts shoved in a drawer. Some records need to be kept permanently to show the work agencies do, but most records can be disposed of in a short period of time. Many records don’t need to be kept longer than a day, like the ubiquitous “donuts in the break room” email. Implementing a records management system and a plan to dispose of what you don’t need cuts down on the records clutter – both paper and electronic – so that day-to-day operations can run more smoothly. Luckily, we’re here to help!

What are your hobbies outside of work?

In the past few years, I’ve really gotten into cooking and baking, and I’m always on the lookout for new desserts and breads I can test out in my stand mixer. Beyond that, I love embroidering, discovering new walking and hiking trails, and piecing together jigsaw puzzles.

Meet the Staff Feature: David Spriegel

For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.

Name: David Spriegel

Title: Records Management Archivist

Specialties: I serve as a liaison to the Secretary of State’s Office.

How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?

Before beginning my current position, I worked for the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a digital archivist. There, I was tasked with assisting a federal agency (in Omaha, Nebraska) to organize their born-digital records during the implementation of a content management system. Prior to this, I assisted several local government clients in Lake County, Illinois, with records management efforts. 

What is something you enjoy about working in records management?

What I enjoy about records management is the opportunity to see how minute details can combine to create a larger picture of an organization. I view records management and archives as two sides of the same coin – both relate to information management within an organization, but records management reduces the amount of materials that are transferred to the archives. In terms of educating staff about records management, what is most powerful to me is that the smallest changes can make the biggest differences. 

What do you view as the biggest challenge facing the profession today?

I believe that the biggest challenge is advocating for the continued relevance of the profession. Archives and records management compete for space and funding among current concepts such as big data, software development, and mass digitization. Also vital is emphasizing the importance of preserving permanent records. Most important in terms of individual programs and projects is that archives and records management should be integrated from the outset rather than as a final requirement. 

What are your hobbies when you are not at work?

Outside of work, I enjoy watching documentaries and mysteries, reading, and walking. I also like attending museums and cultural events. 

Meet the Staff Feature: Rebecca Jackson

Name: Rebecca Jackson

For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.

Title: Records Management Archivist

Specialties: Working with state agencies to transfer permanent records to the Archives and helping local governments receive approval to destroy their obsolete records.

How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?

I previously worked for around a decade at non-profit organizations that focused on policy research and advocacy. My work at these organizations was all about connecting and empowering citizens with the information and resources they needed to be a part of the policy-making process. While in many ways my previous work experience is very different from the work I do at the Archives, I am still working towards connecting people to the government that serves them.

What is something you enjoy about working in records management?

I love being a small part in bringing new records into the Archives that will be here for researchers, historians, and the public long after I leave. When we get something that I find interesting, I want to shout from the rooftop to let everyone know. I start thinking about all the ways the records can be used and analyzed and the insight they can provide.

What do you view as the biggest challenge facing the profession today?

I think Archivists are getting a handle on electronic records and how to manage, collect, and preserve them. But as governments move more into the collection and analysis of big data, I worry that we will have a harder time conceptualizing, collecting, and preserving these records.

What are your hobbies when you are not at work?

I enjoy spending time outdoors with my husband and dog, hiking, swimming, gardening, and lounging in my hammock. I also enjoy cooking, eating, and exploring new places.

Meet the Staff Feature: Michael Grissett

For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.

Name: Michael Grissett

Title: Records Center Archivist

Specialties: Operational Organization, Procedure and Work Flow Design, Risk Management

How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?

I have had a lifelong fascination with History, Geography, and other social sciences. I initially studied Engineering at Auburn University but ultimately pursued my passion and graduated with a degree in history. I have been working at the State Records Center since mid-October of 2018, and I think the position is a perfect fit for me.

What is something you enjoy about working in records management?

It’s exciting to work at a critical junction in the operation of state government. While the staff at the Records Center is small relative to the other divisions within the Archives, the work here keeps us on our feet and gives me a firsthand look at the immediate and long-term challenges of preserving paper records.

What exactly does the Records Center do that is different from the bulk of the Records Management Section?

The State Records Center coordinates with state agencies to store, file, re-file, deliver, and destroy temporary records on the agencies’ behalf. The division was established in the late 1980s in response to the lack of temporary records storage options at the state level. In essence, we interact with the bulk of records which state agencies may not use on a daily basis, but which they are nonetheless legally required to maintain. Unlike the bulk of the Records Management Section, the Records Center directly handles agencies’ temporary records being moved and stored, from Delivery to Disposition.

Doesn’t electronic record creation and storage render your service unnecessary?

One may think that, but many agencies continue to create and retain a large volume of paper records. Electronic records are easier to access and require less physical storage space, but they are more susceptible to security breaches. Paper records maintained at a secure location permit sensitive information to be preserved and accessed when necessary, without the risk of electronic data breaches that can be expensive to prepare for and recover from.  

What are your hobbies when you are not at work?

I like to read on current and past events, cook, play the drums, hang out with friends, and play video games when not at work.

Getting to Know the Local Government Records Commission

If you have ever enrolled in a public school, checked out a book from the public library, registered your car with the DMV, or received a parking ticket, you have been involved in the creation of local government records. Local records promote government transparency and may have future historical or research significance.

The Local Government Records Commission (LGRC) determines which records have permanent value and which may be destroyed. Established in 1987, the Commission consists of sixteen members. The Governor appoints ten members, including a representative from a historically black college or university; one probate judge who is not a chairman of a county commission; one chairman of a county commission who is not a probate judge; one county administrator; one county taxation official; two city clerks; one superintendent of a county or municipal school system; one county sheriff; and one municipal police chief. Another two representatives come from Auburn University and the University of Alabama. The remaining four members are ex officio and include the Director of the Department of Archives and History, the Chief Examiner of the Department of Examiners of Public Accounts, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State. More information about the creation and composition of the LGRC is available on the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) website.

The LGRC is responsible for issuing retention guidelines and other regulations for local government records based on their evidential, informational, and historical value. The Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) Records Management staff support the LGRC by conducting surveys of public records created by counties, municipalities, and other agencies of local government and developing retention schedules (more formally known as Records Disposition Authorities or RDAs) and by offering records management training. The RDA designates which records are temporary and permanent and gives local governments the authority to destroy temporary records after a specified amount of time, or retention period.

Unlike state agencies, most local agencies do not have their own RDAs. Instead, there are generic RDAs for the following types of government entities:

  • 911 Emergency Communications Districts
  • Archives and Museums
  • Boards of Education
  • County Commission
  • County Boards of Registrars
  • County Probate Offices
  • County Taxation Offices
  • Emergency Management Agencies
  • Fire Departments
  • Health Care Authorities
  • Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Municipalities
  • Public Libraries
  • Racing Commissions
  • Regional Planning Commissions

Local governments use the appropriate RDA to determine which of their temporary records are eligible for destruction. The responsible local official submits a Local Government Records Destruction Notice to ADAH to receive a letter of eligibility. Local agencies are legally obligated to report destruction to the LGRC. See our website and our blog post “Local Government Records Destruction 101” for more detailed instructions. 

Local governments who identify records outside the current scope of the RDA can submit a request to ADAH Records Management archivists for review and presentation to the LGRC at one of two annual meetings in April and October.

As the support staff for the LGRC, ADAH assists local governments not only with temporary record destruction but also with the preservation of permanent records. ADAH offers free on-site advice about permanent record housing, storage and shelving, security, environmental control, and disaster preparedness and on long-term preservation planning for electronic records.

If you have questions about the Local Government Records Commission, would like more information about local RDAs, or would like to schedule on-site training, please contact Rebecca Hebert at