Information Studies


Geoffrey Yeo investigates the relationships between information, data and records

Book cover: Records, Information and Data
In July 2018, Facet Publishing announced the release of Records, Information and Data: Exploring the Role of Record-Keeping in an Information Culture by Geoffrey Yeo (Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Information Studies at University College London).


In a society that increasingly emphasizes digital information and data, questions arise about the place of longer-established concepts such as records and archives. Records, Information and Data sets out to investigate the relationships between information (or data) and records, and to examine the place of record-making and record-keeping in today’s information culture.

The book starts with an exploration of the concepts of records and archives; setting today’s record-keeping and archival practices in their historical context whilst examining changing perceptions of how these concepts are understood. It asks whether and how far understandings derived from the fields of information management and data science/administration can enhance our knowledge of how records function. It argues that concepts of information and data cannot provide a fully adequate basis for reflective professional thinking about records and that record-keeping practices still have distinct and important roles to play in contemporary society.

 Reviews of Records, Information and Data:

‘How well do we understand the similarities and differences between records, information, and data? ... Have we adequately contemplated where we are going in our rush to adopt the emperor’s new clothes of information management? What are the consequences of downplaying ... those unique skills that records professionals must have? ... Can the making and keeping of records continue to be regarded as a separate, distinct, and worthy endeavour in the digital age? Geoffrey Yeo ... addresses these questions in this timely book, which should be read by all records professionals. ... His language is clear, dispassionate, and direct. ... Make no mistake: records matter. They are not some quaint and archaic subset of the modern, thrusting world of data or information. They matter because they play a unique and vital role in society. ... Yeo’s book is ... a reassertion and rearticulation of our enduring core purpose.’ (Adrian Cunningham, Archivaria, Canada)

 Yeo’s book provides a lucid argument for the need for records managers and archivists to resist the song of the information sirens. Philosophically grounded and analytically clear, Records, Information and Data offers a view of records capable of acting as the foundation for a renewed archival discipline for the twenty-first century.’ (Juan Ilerbaig, American Archivist, USA)

‘Geoffrey Yeo—whose scholarship has long challenged our understandings of records—provides a powerful defense of the record and of recordkeeping. In seven assiduously researched chapters, Yeo traces the history, roles, and affordances of records and recordkeeping, firmly establishing that records ... have distinct roles in the performance of action and the construction of our social world. ... Yeo’s book ... masterfully traces the shifting, uncertain definitions of both “information” and “data” ... [and] lays bare a number of the assumptions that underlie much information and data rhetoric. ... Yeo is a powerful writer ... and ... this book ... is a persuasive, cogent introduction to the distinctive character and ongoing necessity of records and recordkeeping.’ (Darra Hofman, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, USA/Canada)

‘This is an erudite and well-researched piece of work, substantiated with a wealth of references … and … making a strong case that recordkeeping is distinct from the related disciplines of information and data management. … Yeo has distilled a broad range of thought into a cogent argument for the distinctiveness and necessity of recordkeeping amidst the information culture of the twenty-first century. … Every recordkeeping professional should try to get hold of a copy and consider its implications. Apart from being a thought-provoking and insightful read, it provides clarity for those trying to advocate for recordkeeping while negotiating the cultural shifts towards information and data as preeminent paradigms. (Greg Rolan, Archives and Manuscripts, Australia)

Geoffrey Yeo's previous work for Facet includes Managing Records: A Handbook of Principles and Practice (with Elizabeth Shepherd, 2003), and Managing Records in Global Financial Markets (with Lynn Coleman, Victoria Lemieux and Rod Stone, 2011).  He is also the author of Record-Making and Record-Keeping in Early Societies, published by Routledge in 2021.