Records Administrator finds joy in her job

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By Jennifer Garcia

Anyone who’s kept receipts and paper records over a long period of time knows how easy it is to accumulate them and how hard it is to weed through them and sort them out.

Imagine having 6,000 containers full of not just paper records, but other miscellaneous items, that need to be looked through.

Barb Ricci knows exactly how it feels to face such a daunting task. Ricci, the new records administrator for Los Alamos County, has only been on the job a few weeks, but she hit the ground running and is now in the process of trying to sort through the county’s records.

She’s no stranger to records management, however. She has 30 years of experience in the business world and an understanding of both the operation and management aspects of the record keeping business and knows what needs to be kept and what can be disposed of.

An Española native, Ricci graduated high school and went to New Mexico State University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in business administration.

After college, she traveled to both the East Coast and the West Coast, where she met her husband, John, a Sonoma, Calif., native.

After their son Brandon was born, the Riccis decided to move back to Northern New Mexico.

“We came back to New Mexico to raise our son in Northern New Mexico where there was family and a better quality of life, in terms of a slower pace.” Ricci said. “As I continued to work, I’ve always worked in executive-level type positions as well as operations and economic development. I had an opportunity to work with an economic firm when I moved back to New Mexico,” she said.

In fact, the opportunity Ricci is referring to was with an Indian Pueblo, for whom she helped generate business.

Since coming back to New Mexico, Ricci has also worked for Day and Zimmermann, a company based in Philadelphia, with offices in New Mexico. While working for Day and Zimmermann, she became involved in records managements. Some of her duties included converting paper records to electronic form.

“It was a great opportunity. I became the director of operations and managed the business for about 8 years,” she said. “During that time, I decided to go back to school for my master’s. I did night classes at the University of Phoenix and got my master’s in organizational development.”

She also worked for the New Mexico State Land Office, where she was the director of records management.

“I was entrusted with managing state trust land records leases,” Ricci commented. “We had about 75,000 records that we managed for the Trust. I helped create an internal imagining division for the State Land Office that allowed us to image the records that we needed to keep long-term.”

Ricci’s decision to apply for the records administrator position for the county came about by chance. She was working for the Land office when she was asked to take part in the hiring process for the county position.

“I was asked to sit in on the interview process to find a records administrator for the county,” she said. However, after reviewing the job description, she realized that she had all of the qualifications for the job. “So I applied instead of sitting in on the panel. Luckily, I was chosen,” she said.

Though she’s found her job with the county to be challenging, she’s confident that she can handle the task at hand.

“It’s extremely challenging. I have the opportunity to be the pioneer when it comes to the records management process,” she said. “They’ve (the county) stored records for years but haven’t known how to manage them based on retention schedules and the process that records have to go through to ensure security, compliance and transparency.”

Ricci said that she’s in the process of assessing the records that are currently being stored and is taking a look at the records that have met the retention schedule and the records that need to be kept. Once the records have been assessed, Ricci said a record center will be created so that the records will be kept and protected under the state’s laws and regulations.

The most challenging aspect of the job for Ricci so far, has been the desire to get everything done in a short amount of time.

“Everyone wants to have the records and information plan in place and organized and functioning the way it’s supposed to,” she commented. “It’s just a matter of time. I’m racing against the clock.”  

Ricci is handling the task with cool confidence and seems undeterred.

“I’ll do it for you, just give me the time,” she said regarding her comment about racing against the clock.

Ricci said that even though she’s only been in her new position for a short time, the people she works with are a great group.

“I’ve loved my time here. Everyone’s been extremely cooperative and pleasant to work with. I feel blessed to be part of the county. I think I’ll make a really positive impact as time progresses,” she commented.

She’s hoping to make a huge impact for the county as far as records and information management are concerned.

When she’s not sorting through records, Ricci enjoys gardening and painting. In addition, she enjoys riding with her husband on their Harley Davidson motorcycle, reading and cooking both Italian and northern New Mexico fare.

 “I love to cook and drink great wine. I married a guy from Sonoma, so I truly understand the quality of good living,” she said.