In the landscape of information management, archivists and records managers are often combined, leading to a misconception that they serve identical functions. However, a closer examination reveals nuances that underscore the specialized expertise and unique contributions each profession brings to the table.

While both archivists and records managers deal with the preservation and organization of information assets, their focus, methodologies, and objectives differ. Exploring these differences not only clarifies the distinct responsibilities of archivists and records managers but also emphasizes their crucial roles in safeguarding and maximizing the value of organizational information. Continue reading to learn more about the distinctions between archivists and records managers, and how the two roles overlap.


An archivist primarily oversees historical documents and artifacts, ranging from handwritten letters and journals to photographs, maps, and other significant relics. Archivists are commonly employed by museums, libraries, and cultural institutions as they prioritize the preservation and accessibility of historical materials for future generations.

Preservation is a cornerstone of an archivist’s role, involving meticulous handling and storage of documents alongside efforts to digitize materials for wider access. Additionally, archivists may curate exhibits, create finding aids for researchers, and delve into historical research to provide context for the materials they manage. Ultimately, their focus is on safeguarding historical documents and ensuring they are available to those who seek them.

In the realm of historical preservation, archivists emerge as the custodians of our past. Archivists meticulously handle, digitize, and curate — not just for accessibility, but to weave a narrative that enriches our understanding of history. Their commitment extends beyond safeguarding; it’s about ensuring that the treasures of our past remain vividly accessible for the curious minds of the future.

Records Managers

On the other hand, a records manager is tasked with the day-to-day management of an organization’s records. This encompasses a broad spectrum, from financial records and personnel files to legal documents and project files. Employed by businesses, government agencies, and various organizations, records managers ensure records are appropriately classified and organized for easy retrieval.

One key aspect of a records manager’s job is ensuring that records are properly classified and organized so that they can be easily accessed when needed. This often involves developing and implementing record retention policies, which specify how long different record types should be retained and when they can be destroyed. Additionally, records managers are often responsible for ensuring that records are properly secured and protected from unauthorized access.

Records managers may also be involved in developing and implementing document management systems, which are used to manage and store electronic records. These systems may include everything from simple file-sharing tools to more complex content management systems that can automatically classify and index records based on their content.

In the grand composition of organizational efficiency, records managers take the lead, harmonizing record accessibility while hitting the right notes of legal and regulatory compliance.

The Similarities Between Archivists and Records Managers

While archivists and records managers have distinct focuses, there are areas of significant overlap in their roles. For example, both archivists and records managers may be involved in developing and implementing record retention policies, and both may be responsible for ensuring that records are properly classified and organized.

Ultimately, both professions are dedicated to managing and preserving information, whether for historical legacy or day-to-day operations, ensuring accessibility while adhering to legal and regulatory requirements.

This is where a vendor partner may be able to help both professionals meet their individual requirements. A records and information management partner can help implement a standardized information governance strategy and simplified solution for the retention of all types of records throughout the organization.

For more information on the relationship between archiving and records management, join us on Thursday, March 28th at 1:00 PM EST for our webinar, Preserving the Past, Managing the Present, and Planning for the Future – A Discussion on Archiving, Records, and Data.

This webinar is a discussion on the differences and overlaps between archivists, records managers, and data professionals, as well as the importance of archiving and its relationship to records management and data retention.