HEART OF THE MATTER
Stockholm: TAM-Arkiv 2022
in their own words
Editor: Lars-Erik Hansen
© TAM-ARKIV. 2009, 2022. And Author(s)
Original title: I handlingarnas centrum : Registratorer berättar, Stockholm 2009
(Red. Lars-Erik Hansen)
English title: Heart of the Matter : Registrars in their own words, Stockholm 2022
(Ed. Lars-Erik Hansen)
Translation: Andreas Lindahl and Anna Lundkvist
Sleeve concept and design: Karin Didring Leksell
This is a digital rendition.
Preamble ................................................................................. 4
Introduction ............................................................................. 6
The Registrar – from yesterday and today, to tomorrow ....... 8
Professional memories of registrars ..................................... 23
By the Prime Minister’s side with the mail in hand ............... 24
From the catwalk at Alexandra to the registrar at SÄS ....... 31
Archival exam lifted the level of discourse ........................... 41
Slipped in on a banana peel ................................................. 48
Should you have respect for paper clips? ............................ 64
Technology takes the cake ................................................... 70
Could not stand seeing blood – started at the county council .. 74
Born to register ..................................................................... 78
Historical interest adds up .................................................... 85
Time for the registrar profession to become its own
profession? ............................................................................ 89
Smooth control or iron hand? ............................................. 100
It can be considered a fatal gap in a person’s general education if he or she
has a poor contemporary orientation. Surely, to mention an example, one must
probably all have heard of the Russian writer and Nobel laureate Alexandr
Solzhenitsyn, considered as one of the major authors literally and morally, and
the conscience of the Russian people during the Communist regime. Not know-
ing who Solzhenitsyn is means missing an important point of reference, much
like not knowing who Hitler or Stalin were. But it is not only the leading pol-
iticians, statesmen or writers who are of importance. In each society, dierent
activities take place on a daily basis in everyday life that only glimpses past in
the political game or rarely or never can be found in great thinkers. Be it the
intellectuals of rst rank that shape people’s mindset and express both concerns
as well as hopes. The potentates of power (i.e. the leading politicians) are often
short-lived, while the intellectuals can characterize a whole contemporary think-
ing and emotional orientation. On the other hand, everyday life is often not
central, and knowledge of the entire occupational activities tends to disappear.
TAM-Arkiv has everyday life focus, and the following pages present a series of
stories that express the everyday lives of registrars.
The published texts all testify to a large joy of storytelling and they are gener-
ally well written and give a good picture of the work of the registrar. Linguistic
usage is sometimes quite spontaneous, although texts are structured. Some have
written relatively analytical texts, e.g. how the role of registrar changes when
new technologies are introduced, and also looking into the future of the regis-
trar’s work. In the stories there is a lot of evidence registrars’ professional pride
when a registrar is described as a spider in the web. However, many express
dissatisfaction with the conditions of pay of the profession. Out of the total of
thirty professional memories that have come to TAM-Arkiv, have all been writ-
ten by women. The stories of their lives and experiences as registrars are capti-
vating. Some describe their hobbies, e.g. interest for ction and language. Some
are longer, others shorter, but the length is not decisive. What is exciting is that
the registrars give a comprehensive description of their profession, a profession
which only exceptionally passes as a stripe marker in literature. Of course it’s a
shame, when it’s actually about a professional group at the centre of documents!
Working with the Registrar is not static by any means. Needless to say, it has
been a part of the document management in agencies and authorities for a long
time, but as with any other profession it has undergone changes due to the shift
from manual routines to digital techniques, in the wake of the ever-sharpening
and rening of activities within certain authorities, etc.
For a long time, the core of the registrar’s operational work largely consisted
of the activities accounted for here: registration of public documents, allocation
of cases to the right department/administrator, post registration of activities in
the case (when resent to the register) and in the closure of cases. Many registrars
will certainly recognize themselves in these activities. Also, registrars have in
many cases been dealing with the disclosure of cases and condentiality assess-
ments. Contacts with the public and the media often go through the registrars
or are referred by them to the right person.
The purpose of the chapter “The Registrar – from yesterday and today, to to-
morrow” is to analyze the changes in the registrar profession with a focus on the
period which spans from 1970 to 2008. The professional role of the Registrar,
how is it aected by digitization?
A long letter in the hands of a registrar. Photo: unknown.
The chapter is based on my own experiences within the professional eld,
alongside the knowledge derived from a series of interviews with registrars and,
nally, written professional memories collected by TAM-Arkiv itself.
The chapter provides a description of what the registrar function often looks
like prior to the actual introduction of a digital document management system
within an organization. Furthermore, the changes within the registrar profes-
sion are outlined here, the makeup of the registrar profession is transformed by
the document management system once it is implemented. The individuals, de-
partments or organizations put under scrutiny here all share a common interest
in a well-functioning Registrar, all of which come out unchanged in the period
of investigation. Also, the events that give rise to activities in the Registrar are
relatively static. This chapter also highlights a number of proposals for improve-
ment, as presented by registrars themselves. Registrars interviewed by the editor
of this book in an exchange of ideas and experiences have all been keen to
create more ecient ways of working, in general. The picture of the profession
that presents itself includes everything from operational to strategic activities.
Managing Director, TAM-Arkiv
The Registrar – from
yesterday and today,
There are a range of individuals, professional roles and groups, organizations,
alongside agencies and authorities that depend on and have an interest in a
Registrar function that runs smoothly. In working with this book, the following
stakeholders became clear:
The General Public
How do activities commence within the Registrar?
What starts o a range of activities within the Registrar? In order to give an
answer to this question, one has to group the activities in question. According
to the registrars interviewed for this study, there are three groups of activities:
event-driven, time-driven and law-driven.
Some activities within the registrar function start when one of the stakeholders
expose a need for information from the current records register. The registrar,
being the expert she/he is in the eld, is then often the one who is trying to solve
the need for information. The event-driven activities are outlined below in the
following model (gure 1):
Registrars often receive queries from administrators and managers about the
handling of documents and cases, what needs to be registered and not. Also,
it is very common for registrars to inform other sta or those outside of the
Registrar about the laws and regulations governing the registration and the rou-
tines and procedures contained in the registrar’s work (see gure 1, Queries and
When administrators are preparing a case, information often wished for per-
tains to similar cases previously decided within the organization so as to e.g.
avoid additional work. Often administrators have to be aided in searching these
cases by a registrar (see gure 1, Retrieving material).
When the case ocer is working on a case, she or he often makes notes re-
garding events on an ongoing basis in a register sheet accompanying the dossier.
It may be incoming or drawn up documents. As soon as the case is closed and
the dossier is returned to the register, registration system. The registrar records
the events recorded on the register sheet in the registration system (see gure 1,
Registering activities from register sheets).
The times the registrar or general public request information from the diary,
the registrar assesses whether the material may be released. In cases where the
Figure 1: Event-driven activities within the current records function
Queries and information
regarding the current records
An administrator or other
stakeholder are in need of
information from the current
Extraction of a CJ list
Assessing the extraction of
Registering activities from a
register sheet which has been
registrar does not have the knowledge to decide on extradition, she or he will
forward this question either to the responsible ocer or to a lawyer (see Figure
1, Assessing the extradition of material).
In keeping with his role as law enforcement authority, the Chancellor of
Justice (CJ) exerts oversight of the ability of all public authorities in living up to
the Swedish legislation regarding public access. Very much in line with this, CJ
controls their case management to see how long processing times they have. CJ
also asks authorities to report cases that have been open more than six months
from a certain date. The so-called CJ list to the Chancellor of Justice is issued
once a year and contains the overall number of open cases from the previous
year (see gure 1, Extraction of a CJ list).
There are recursive activities that the registrars know of beforehand. Often,
these are relatively easy to plan and resource, given the regularity with which
they recur, although the actual handling of mails may vary for various rea-
sons, e.g. unforeseen events occurring. The time-drive start-up activities can be
summed up in the model below (gure 2):
The handling of mails is a daily recurring routine nationwide and within all
sectors of society. Mails usually reach us via three channels: enveloped letters,
e-mails and faxes (see gure 2, Handling of mails). Files are then packaged to
be delivered to an archivist. It is a routine that is carried out regularly, as often
as each year. Sometimes it so happens that the registrar is a salaried archivist as
well (see gure 2, Delivery of le). For instance, collection of lists (see gure 2)
means sending weekly and/or daily mailing lists to the press, a circumstance in
which a journalist may catch the full width of incoming and solicited mails. This
activity concerns the extraction of a list of the number of open cases, normally
distributed to the administrators. Along the same line, important means and
measures within the Registrar include volumes of cases distributed over various
Figure 2: Time-driven activities within the diary function
Collection of statistics
Ex: mailing list
Handling of mails
Applies to all channels
Collection of statistics
Ex: number of cases
for each case catergory
Delivery of le
Files delivered to
branch oces or dierent administrators (see gure 2, Collection of statistics).
The status of cases – open or closed – are also important statistics. In addition,
the frequency of change, throughput time and the number of condentiality
tests are important measures.
There are rules and regulations governing the work a registrar really does.
Most importantly, tryckfrihetsförordningen (TF, roughly The Freedom of
Association and Press Act). Authorities and agencies have public documents.
The public, according to the second chapter in TF, has the right to inform
itself about the public documents of their choosing. Likewise, a person who
wishes to inform himself about documents of his or her choosing has the right
to do so (2nd Chpt. § 12, TF). However, there are restrictions on the right to is-
sue a public document. In the Secrecy Act (Sekretesslagen), SekrL, (1980:100)
it is stated, inter alia, that a view must be taken to national security, relations
with foreign powers and privacy. The purpose of registration (i.e. to register
the documents received and drawn up in a case) is to facilitate access to public
documents. A viable principle of public access depends on the proper func-
tioning of the register, so that it is easy to trace which documents have been
received or drawn up (prop. 1979/80:2 Part A p. 354). These are law-driven
activities within the register function (see gure 3):
Paper-based document management
What processes do the registrar’s work dominate in an organization with mainly
paper-based document management? The work is often carried out dierently,
and a comprehensive description is not possible to account for here. For exam-
ple, there are dierences in how to handle originals and copies in the oces, of
activities within certain authorities, etc.
The following diagram (see gure 4) illustrates the operational processes that
may exist for the registration function of a mainly paper-based organization.
The processes are distributed between dierent functions/stakeholders. Mail
handling is often part of many activities in the register function but is often
handled by the caretaker, who sometimes uses a registrar to assess what is to be
added to the register function.
Figure 3: Law-driven activities within the register function
When all mail is sorted, the registrar carries out an assessment and an ap-
praisal of it. After that, a registration takes place in a registration system. For
example, the case may be referred to as a matter of urgency. The case then
receives a unique id (an identity) and is assigned to a category according to a
predetermined registration plan. The registered documents are often entered in
a le together with an attached register sheet, where the administrator can note
the activities in the case during processing. Cases and other items received are
then allocated within the organization to a department, unit or section, or in
some cases directly to administrators for preparation. The administrator inves-
tigates and proposes measures in his/her case and makes ongoing notes on the
register sheet. When the case is closed, the administrator sends the le back to
the registrar’s oce. The registrar receives and closes the case and notes the ac-
tivities listed on the registration sheet. After that, the le is often put in a local ar-
chive. The les are packaged and delivered after some time to a central archive.
Digitized document management
Registrars working in organizations with a digital document management pro-
cess face new processes, such as the creation of a digital document management
system, such as scanning. The competence of the registrar in the registration
and classication of scanned documents is often of great importance. Many
organizations have already noted that the thing with scanning documents is
gradually being replaced by internet services and machine-to-machine commu-
nication, such as e-mail. The trend is leaning towards scanning all paper-borne
information. A basis for scanning is shipped o to either an external scan pro-
Figure 4: The processes and actors of the register function in an organization with mainly paper-based
Registering Allocation Information
retrieval Case closures Delivery to
vider or to the self-same organization from dierent sources, i.e. from munici-
palities, authorities, county councils and the general public. The scanning ser-
vice often includes mail handling. Then follows a mostly complicated technical
process with e-folders, e-documents, e-reception, etc.
There is a slight tendency that the operative processes of the register function
are lessening in terms of space and volume with digital information management,
because some menial tasks are transferred to administrators. Administrators
themselves are seeking information, registering documents as well as closing cases
at hand. This in turn increases the demand for knowledge in diary routines (clas-
sication in a system support) among the administrators, and consequently the
registrars face a much greater responsibility in furthering knowledge.
Increased governance as well as digitization of information also tend to re-
duce double storage. Information is no longer available both in a digital le
structure in folders and at the same time in e-mail programs such as attach-
ments, etc. To a varying degree, organizations are beginning to work in favour
of digital archiving. A prerequisite for the entire document management chain
to function digitally is that the register function is managed digitally.
Figure 5: Processes of the register function and stakeholders within an organization with digital
retrieval Case closures Statistics
Figure 6: Registrar work with scanning and digital support for the administrator
Start Documents arrive to the organization and are subject to classication
End Administratiors process hte assignment (documnet or case) and then close the case
(all channels) Flyers &
offers To be scanned
Litter bin Store and save
diary Keep records
it is a new case or a
case alreday in the
to unit or person
Yes No No
The registration process
What does the registration process look like in a digital document management
organization? Here is an example (see also gure 6, on the opposite side).
Mail arrives at an authority; an assessment of the content is made duly. The
documents to be scanned are submitted for preparation and scanning. The dig-
ital documents are stored and metadata is added. Documents that cannot or
must be scanned are recorded electronically and the location is specied so that
they are still searchable.
The mail received by e-mail or received via the scan is assessed, stored and
recorded in the document management system. The documents relating to al-
ready pending cases are linked to them. New cases will have a new case folder,
etc. The processing is conducted as much as before, although the number of au-
tomated operations tends to increase. All documents are provided with a set of
metadata, which, among other things, provides information on the information
provided by the document and puts it into context. Meta-data tagging does not
only occur when a document is received or drawn up within an organization, it
Often, permissions are set in a digital case management. The introduction
of digital case management often involves new forms of work, as it facilitates
the interaction between divisions, oces, within counties, between counties and
across the country and, in the long term, also within the EU and otherwise
internationally. The aim is also for the citizen to be able to handle their cases
through increased self-service. This requires the control of access, including the
use of the internet to protect the privacy of individuals.
When documents are to be archived, they are automatically transferred
to an archive system and managed in an archive process, often according
to the model described in the Open Archives Information System (OAIS)
The new registrar role
Digitization entails a shift of a registrar’s duties from operational to strategic.
The change means that the need for education is gradually increasing and that
the status of the profession is raised. The dierences between the registrars and
the various activities of archivists are reduced and the two occupational groups
will thus continue to be interdependent. The work with e.g. guidelines, referral
responses and information often occur as a collaboration between an archive
and registrar functions.
In small organizations, a person often works within many of the functional pro-
cesses of the diary and at dierent levels. In the morning, the registrar can e.g. work
with operative activities, in the afternoon work with the training of administrators as
part of an operational support eort within the organization (see Figure 7).
Without strategic management responsibilities, the operational activities
may lead registrars to be generally well aware of the need for support from
Management. However, what the aid should look like is a matter that few regis-
trars highlight, at least the registrars I met.
It is oftentimes obvious that management has a responsibility for the opera-
Figure 7: Levels of responsibility for the registration function processes
There is a description of OAIS in ”Dokumenthantering i processorienterade organisationer” see
Hansen & Löfgren ”Den digitala dokumenthanteringsprocessen kräver ett digitalt arkiv (OAIS)”,
(edited by Anneli Sundqvist) Stockholm 2005.
tional part of the registrars’ business, but operates less well. What can a relatively
ecient organization with clear roles and a pronounced responsibility when it
comes to the registrar’s activities look like in real terms? What can a relationship
between strategic management and strategic support look like? And how do
strategic issues position themselves to the operational activities of such a regis-
trar? In the following we will be taking a closer look at these issues. Important to
underline is that a division of responsibilities and roles is important even in an
organization that has not implemented digital document management.
Strategic management, steering and follow-up
In order to eectively control, lead and follow up registration activities, devel-
oped strategic support is needed. If, for instance, the registrar is working on a dig-
ital document management system that includes scanning, the management must
have access to a strategic scanning project which will then be thoroughly managed
and administered. The purpose in this example may be to dimension, optimize,
and follow up the scanning service by studying the proportion of scanned dossiers
or assess the quality of the scanned material. Part of the strategic management
work is to take explicit responsibility for the registration system managed within
its own organization. Management (or the person representing the management)
owns the system product and also has a management responsibility for the man-
agement organization that needs to be built up. Therefore, it is management that
should lead development of the system and, among other things, the development
of being responsible for ensuring that the right skills and adequate resources are
available to secure a good quality in the register activities. Registrar activities de-
pend on a product-responsible entity, a strategic support. Whoever is put in charge
of a registering system must lay the ground stones for a solid administration plan.
The work includes ordering assignments and following up activities. In addition,
work needs to be given the green light or vice versa by the one responsible and the
owner of the product or system. Usually, a great many agreements also need to
be administered; for instance, agreements concerning potential external contribu-
tors, such agreements the management are ultimately responsible for.
The registrar is the key person in the diary function with all its activities. That
is why the registrar should be involved in developing of the diary function as
strategic support. Information is here to facilitate the management’s role in the
decision-making work aiming at strategic development. Very often the registrar
holds information within the following activities:
• Analysis of surrounding world
• Strategic support
• Utterances and remissals
• Information architecture (IT support)
Analysis of surrounding world
Registrars often monitor what is going on in their profession. They nd out
how other authorities, municipalities, county councils and companies do; how
they handle scanned documents, how they solve the issue of unregistered
e-mail or what it takes to publish the diary on the internet. They also nd
out the advantages and disadvantages of various system support available in
the market. They studies how others conduct education, how others prepare
From a strategic perspective, it is important to realize that projects involving an
organization’s information supply are of central importance to management.
Nevertheless, it is not so common for registrars to be involved in planning when
implementing an electronic document management system. However, it is even
more worrying that the proportion of registrars who are involved in such proj-
ects in the actual implementation does not increase signicantly. Among the
interviewed registrars and in the over thirty professional memories are the few
who explicitly speak of this. Many registrars’ work seems to be more opera-
tional, although their operational competence is extremely important in all sys-
tem development in the document management area.
Utterances and remissals
Some registrars assist in the preparation of referral responses and other utter-
ances, e.g. on proposals for guidelines on document management coming from
other organizations. Responses to proposals for international standards can also
be processed and analyzed.
Guidelines are conducive to good standards when it comes to document man-
agement and a certain sense of increased order within an organization.
These guidelines often tend to be based on laws, byelaws and regulations in
the eld and usually they are relatively abstract, i.e. describing only benchmarks
in the business as a whole in the shape of paragraphs, for instance, and how
they should be used. Hands-on examples are often highlighted to facilitate the
implementation of guidelines.
As required, operational support within the registrar’s business demands infor-
mation and dialogue with those responsible for the strategic work in an organi-
zation where the operational work is separate from the strategic.
Information Architecture (IT Support)
The activities of the registrar are involved in an organization’s work with its
information architecture (IT support). Within an organization that runs a rel-
atively ecient diary management, work is ongoing on strategic management
and the description of its document management and information ows within
the authority as a whole. Information management activities here include work
on models (eg conceptual model, OAIS model) and control documents (eg infor-
mation or document management plan, diary plan).
In an organization with digital document management mainly, the registrar’s
activities consist purely operationally of assessing the content of scanned doc-
uments, registering documents and keeping records and their documents, and
distributing documents and cases within the organization. The work also in-
cludes linking received documents to pre-existing cases (see Figures 5–7).
The registrar’s operational activities are primarily dependent on one
operational support in day-to-day work, not by the longer-term strategic opera-
tions. In order for the work to work functionally, there must be eective under-
lying support in the shape and form of maintenance and betterment, guidelines
and routines as well as learning.
Maintenance and betterment
Operational support consists of a coordination of the daily registrar activities,
e.g. in terms of work allocation and priorities. The operational support person
should also act as a contact person internally within his or her own organization,
but also externally.
Guidelines and routines
Operational support also includes investigating and deciding on issues concern-
ing one uniform working method, e.g. what to record in the diary. A common
way is to develop routine descriptions to facilitate ongoing work.
In order for operational support to work, education is of central importance.
Training is needed for users of a diary management program. But users also
need knowledge of guidelines and routine descriptions that aect the support
function, e.g. ocial register. As for support, the overall support surely needs to
be user-friendly in terms of accessibility, etc. Information should also be posted
on the organization’s internal website (e.g. intranet). Arranging user conferences
can be a great way to direct and concentrate training eorts.
Registrars propose improvements
Many registrars are aware of their role within the organization, as well as the
ensuring of the administrative quality of the function. Together with the archives,
they form the foundation of order in the function. Their work increases the pos-
sibility of overview and control of documents that come in and out of the orga-
nization. As such, they constitute a guarantee of legal security for citizens, as the
risk of cases disappearing is reduced. It is thanks to registrars and archives that it
is possible to create uniform routines for registration and archiving. This also cre-
ates opportunities for retrieving information. In the interviews with the registrars
as well as in the received collective work memories, there were clear requests for
improvements, partly from the diary function and partly before the introduction
of digital case management. Three suggestions for improvement predominate:
• Higher level of competence
• Change in attitude
• Increased availability
Higher level of competence
The registrars place demands on a higher level of competence among those
who work with and record documents. Above all, this shortage is great knowl-
edge of what to register and how. Higher levels of competence lead to better
information quality in the diary, e.g. a more uniform classication and clearer
issues of opinion. This provides better conditions for searching and nding the
right information. To achieve this, guidelines and learning are required from
both registrars (superusers) and users who are to use the system.
Change in attitude
There is also a desire for a changed attitude of management and other sta towards
the registrar’s activities. It is not uncommon for the registrar to be seen as a “side
job” that someone can handle in addition to other tasks. This can help to ensure
that no one wants to be responsible for the diary as a whole, as it can be seen as an
unimportant task. This problem may increase if the administrators are to be more
involved in the registration of events in the case management process. One advan-
tage of the administrators becoming more active in the registration is of course that
more directly addressed e-mail is entered into the diary. Another advantage is that
the administrators gain greater transparency in the diary operations. However, for
this to work, increased training of sta within the organization is required.
Without digital case or document management, there are only a few persons
who can obtain the information available registered in a diary. Some registrars
believe that without digital case management, the diary is an under-utilized re-
source. In order to increase accessibility, they emphasize the importance of a
clear classication and well-dened security routines (authorization, etc.). They
also believe that those who metadata tag the scanned documents need knowledge
to make the marking search-ecient. In summary, almost all registrars want to
improve their operations and continue their work on streamlining work meth-
ods and creating clear descriptions and examples of what should be recorded
and how the information should be classied based solely on the diary plan
and document management plan. The registrars also note that there are both
advantages and disadvantages to the new opportunities, e.g. the Internet, which
makes information easily accessible to increasingly larger groups of stakehold-
ers both within and outside the authority. They believe that this places higher
demands on the person working within the system to do the right thing. The
consequences when someone makes a mistake can be huge when the informa-
tion is automatically published on the intranet or the internet. Many registrars
are aware of the shortcomings in the registrar’s function. A common deciency
is that registrars within an organization or within the registrar collective as a
whole classify cases dierently. This leads to poorer quality of the system, as the
opportunities for information retrieval are deteriorating. Another shortcoming
that registrars address is that when open cases are not digital, there is no support
for storing and retrieving work material within the organization.
Lars-Erik Hansen, PhD in contemporary history and archivist by profession
A Swedish registrar. Photo:
Allan Myrman. The TCO
image archive, TAM-Arkiv
By the Prime Minister’s
side with the mail in hand
Vivianne Liliansdotter’s recollections
I have never suered from a lack of taking points at dinners, mingling and
”What, will you open the Prime Minister’s mail?”
…and so it goes, and I explain what a registrar really is and what an import-
ant role we have, namely that we register the present for the future.
For the past twenty-ve years I have been working as registrar at the Cabinet
Oce, the prime minister’s oce in the Government Oce.
It has been extremely interesting and stimulating but also dicult many times.
And I mean emotionally dicult. I am thinking among other things of the mur-
der of Olof Palme in 1986, the sinking of Estonia in 1994, the terrorist attack
September 11 in 2001, the murder of Anna Lindh in 2003 and the tsunami in
Thailand in 2004. With sadness in my heart, I have handled all the condolences
owing in expressing great resentment, anxiety, fear, etc.
My working life has been an exciting journey, from a calmer climate at all
with a manual register to today’s slim and exible organization, where employ-
ees are exposed to high demands and recurrent changes. In addition to the
enormous change in the profession, with the computerization, for my part, I
have also had recurrent new elections and thus a new government has brought
about major changes. Me and my colleague usually jokeily say we don’t have to
change jobs...the job changes itself. Ability exibility has been of the utmost im-
portance when we have had dierent client conditions with changing majorities
and, above all, a completely dierent political focus.
How did it start?
How did I end up here?
I grew up in a villa in Enskede with my mother, father and big sister. When
I was ve years old, my parents divorced, and me and my mother moved to
Kungsängen just outside Stockholm. Mom, who worked as secretary, remarried
a few years later and our family was extended by two little brothers. My father,
who worked as a painter, moved with my sister to Bagarmossen. I nd my child-
hood happy, with a warm, lovely family and many friends.
After high school, I entered the DIK stream. It would be the distribution and
oce stream, but The Natural Sciences Streamers persisted in calling it “Stupid
Club”. Unfortunately, it was only two years but was known as a stream that gave
students jobs after completing their studies.
Then followed a few years when I lapped trips with various jobs, as a reception-
ist at Södermalm’s driving school, a seller in a clothing boutique, an errand boy
in the Old Town (what nice backyards there are if you only have right port code).
Finally, I ended up at something called Oljeersättningsfonden (Oil
Compensation Fund), a committee under the ministry of industry at the time.
There, I worked as receptionist and stepped in as assistant if necessary.
To the Prime Minister’s Ofce
When they were moving from Riddarholmen after two years, I chose to move
on. Among the Government Oces (RK, Regeringskansliet) internally adver-
tised posts, I saw on a job as a registrar at the Prime Minister’s Oce (SB,
Statsrådsberedningen). I applied for the position and got to come to an inter-
view. Only then did I understand how interesting and important – especially
from a democratic point of view – the job I was looking for was and of course
still is. You could probably say it’s a unique service, and to my great joy, that it
was just me who got the job.
The main registrar, who has worked there for fteen years, became my men-
tor and friend. She taught me the basics of the extensive work on a registrar’s
oce. The basics yes, my rst task was to sort in about three thousand closed
but completely unsorted cases in archive boxes. With great zeal, I took me on
the task. Luckily, I already liked sorting. I guess the trickiest bit was to unfold the
archive boxes in a smooth way.
After this ordeal, it was time for me to deal with the documents received. Our
rst responsibility at the Prime Minister’s Oce is to distribute the documents
to the right recipient, that is, department of fact, parties, private recipients, per-
sonnel, legal, security, press and, in particular, the Foreign Oce for privacy
assessment. There’s an incredibly large variation on it materials coming in.
Before I joined SB, I had no idea that one could write to the Prime Minister. Even
less that this writing employs many people. We record about ten thousand letters
each year, and very large resources are invested in the handling of these letters.
Transparency and information about government work that prevail today are citi-
zens’ opportunities to participate in the public debate, and this is clear in my work.
The public’s letter to the Prime Minister of Sweden may come out dierently.
It is not entirely easy to put the arrival stamp at the top right corner which is
practice. Some write on each free space of paper, be it anything from a large
poster to a small COOP receipt. Appreciation and criticism blended in a mud-
dle, and gifts such as drawings, ties, glasses. Olof Palme got an engagement ring
from an avid female admirer; another admirer sent him his conrmation bible.
But I don’t think anything beats the probably very upset tax-payer who submit-
ted his tax return form after he used it as toilet paper!
The letters are mostly very personal and the senders often leave out them-
selves for help. Few know that the letters are public documents that can be read
by anyone. Many, on the other hand, believe that the Prime Minister can inter-
vene in individual cases.
The actual registration
When the basic sorting is complete, the tour will be to the registration itself,
which was manual at the time. Four sheets of carbon in between. A rst side
with a full sheet in chronological order, the other three sheets perforated in four
so-called “loose ends”.
It was now that we set the criteria for future search, so it was really a matter of
thinking and writing right. The name and company, authority or organization
of the informer; Then address, subject matter and other accepted information.
Finally, we folded and pulled apart the loose ends, sorted them alphabetically
and nally sorted them into a binder that was our search register. I often think
back to it today, when I easily free text search or take out mail and balance lists
based on a variety of search criteria.
Status of the profession
My rst twenty years we were on the same plane as the Prime Minister and his
sta. At that time, the political leadership and we apolitical employees were very
integrated, and we had, for example, common coee breaks and parties. The
administrators often came in to us and discussed their cases. We had, and still do,
have a letter unit consisting of about ve politically appointed letter-responders.
Today, after some reorganizations, we sit completely separate from our client
both locally and administratively. Thus, the close contact with the administra-
tors of the dierent units has ceased and today, virtually no one, except the letter
unit, knows who I am.
As far as the status of the registrar is concerned, I think it varies depending on
who is watching us – journalists, the public or administrators. In RK there is a
low-status view that is very slowly changing. But there are, of course, managers
who know what a registrar does, and value what we do and the knowledge that
In the past, low security thinking
Looking back, I can see that we were very protectionless. Safety thinking was
much lower. For example, we ourselves received public visits through the en-
trance. If someone had been wanting to carry out some kind of attack, it would
not have been very dicult. In all these years, however, nothing like this ever
happened; on the contrary, it was fruitful and interesting visits. It is, among
other things, contact with the public and the media that makes this work so
interesting. You’re really involved in the whole process.
We received journalists from all over the world, I remember especially when
we were visited by a large number of journalists from future EU countries. It
really gave us the opportunity to present the Swedish principle of public access
in full and show how the regulatory framework works. After we have informed
about our operations, we suggested that they could search for their respective
heads of government to see if they wrote anything. There were some hits on
letters that were covered by foreign secrecy. After contact with Lars Danielsson,
who was then in charge of the Foreign Oce, condentiality was lifted and the
journalist was able to read the letters. It aroused great appreciation but also a
Computerization makes its entry
In 1985, the computerization came to us and after a few turns and tours back
and forth the choice fell on the computer company Wang. It was incredibly
interesting to be part of the development when the system was built, based
entirely on our criteria. I became a so-called system administrator who helped
users, took backup and had contact with the consultants at Wang if necessary.
Taking backup was heavy and time consuming, there were several large round
discs, about forty centimeters in diameter, 25 centimetres high weighing about
ve kilos each, and they would be taken out and put into a special order every
SB was the rst to computerize its business but eventually most departments,
which at the time were very independent devices, started to acquire word pro-
cessors and computer-based registries. Unfortunately, there were many dierent
systems, which could not communicate with each other. Today, it is much more
exible when all departments have the same registration system with a common
database that allows us to search and read in the registries of the dierent de-
partments. A whole IT-only department was set up, so I stopped working as user
support and devoted myself entirely to the registrar’s work.
A few years later, I took a leave of absence for a year in the United States,
an unforgettable trip with my best friend in a VW bus. We drove from the west
coast to the east coast and back again. It was amazing to experience how the
landscape changed from one state to another. I fell in love with San Diego where
I had the opportunity to study English for six months.
Once home, I happily dealt with the work again. It was really fun to come
back and meet all the colleagues. And certainly it felt very special when, albeit
a very small part of the story on 1 July 1991, I reverently registered Ingvar
Carlsson’s letter to the President of the European Communities, Hans van den
Broek, requesting membership of the European Communities.
The downs and rises of life
In 1991 there was a tremendous disaster. My mom and spare dad died in a
tragic accident. Me and my mother were very close, we shared an interest in
dance, lm and music, we celebrated holidays together and we also worked so
close to each other that we often ate lunch together. There was a very big void
Fishing with sons.
after both and also great upheavals for me and my siblings. My little brother,
who was only 12 years old, moved in with me. Throughout this time, my col-
leagues were amazing and I received tremendous support. To cope with all the
practicalities, I took two years o for studies and attended an environmental
training near home.
Time passes and heals, almost, all wounds. After two years I came back to my
dear place of work and once again got to be right in the middle of the action.
Now it was time for Sweden’s EU entry.
It was intense years of referendum and preparations for membership. Many
letter writers liked the idea. When I search for the word EU in the SB’s registry
for 1994, I get eight hundred and three hits, if I do the same search in 1993; I
get forty-one hits.
Life rolled on and in 1997 I became the happy mother of a little boy and two
years later he got a little brother. My cuddly, kind, funny, wonderful boys are
the best thing I’ve done in my entire life. Being a mother with all that it means
with both joy and sadness enriches my life 100 percent. The Cabinet Oce is a
workplace that has as a policy that it should be possible to reconcile working life
with parenting and I think that has worked well. Though it is clear, many times
I am torn between the will (and the requirement) to nish at work and the time
when I have to pick up at kindergarten/school.
Education and work experience
As for education, I took a basic course in registration at Mariebergs arkivbyrå
(Marieberg’s archive oce) when I had been working a few months at SB. I have
also had time for a number of dierent courses and the occasional registrar con-
ference. Otherwise, I learned everything on the spot, you can probably compare
it to going as apprentice. Not until 2004 did I take a real registrar training, a
20-point course that Mid Sweden University gives in Härnösand. Despite the
fact that as a single, full-time working mother of young children get to, I also
read the continuation course that gave another ten points. It was a great feeling
to nally get the status of trained registrar.
E-mail is introduced
During Carl Bildt’s time as Prime Minister, e-mails were introduced at the
Government Oces. He was the rst Head of Government in Europe to com-
municate with the public via electronic mail. In March 1994, he connected to
an information database. And Bildt continues to be rst, what I know he is the
only blogging government minister today.
E-mail has enabled rapid contact possibilities and simplication of adminis-
trative procedures with shorter processing times. At the same time, killing boring
and time-consuming moments have been created. Going through and clearing
the inbox from about three hundred spam mails every day is not fun. Similarly,
we can be totally email-bombed when something has happened that ires the
citizens. When I watch tv, hear about new bills, watch a hot TV debate or simi-
lar, I can be sure that the letter harvest increased considerably until the next day.
One hope with the new digital systems was that the amount of paper would
be reduced in oces and archives. The idea was good but the reality is not
quite so simple. At RK more paper than ever before is processed. Today you
can throw away ill-conceived, un-reected thoughts and views at any time of
the day. Preferably a Friday or Saturday night after the news. After all, a certain
hindsight and reection are required when you only have paper and pencil. You
have to have an envelope, nd out and write down an address, go to the mailbox
and, not least, pay for the postage. The e-mail is so impersonal, I miss the variety
that the paper letters still contain. Children’s colourful drawings, collage and
yes, even a used tax form.
I conclude by attaching a picture of a letter of dierent format.
The letter writer received a long and comprehensive response, and is a good
example of how citizens’ opinions and thoughts are met.
From the catwalk at
Alexandra to the
registrar at SÄS
Gunilla Karlsson’s recollections
I am today a forty-eight year young woman (born 1959 in Borås), who has
worked as a registrar in public service for almost thirteen years. It’s a job I enjoy
and I think it’s just as fun to go to every day. Who would have thought this to
be the case when I – as a 18-year old – worked in the glamorous fashion and
mannequin industry? It’s a long way from the nightclub Alexandra’s “catwalk”
to the hospital’s registrar and archives where I am today. Let me tell you.
My family consisted of four people, mother, father, my brother – who is three
years younger than me – and I. We grew up in a two-bedroom at and only
when I was thirteen years old did I get my own room. My parents were young
when they had me, dad was eighteen and mom twenty-one. Dad went to school
seven years and my mother went to three-year grammar school after elemen-
tary school. I come from a working-class family, where my father rst worked at
his brother’s shirt factory as a cutter but after a few years started his own shirt
making with about twenty employed sewing maids. My mother worked as a day
care mother when my brother and I grew up, but started at the social insurance
oce when I was in my teens. There she worked as an assistant/secretary in the
Department for Pensions. My brother left school after elementary school and to-
day works as a warehouse manager at a major company here in Borås.
There were no ”children of academics” in my circle of friends when I was
growing up, and there were very few of us who studied on right after primary
school. But I know that many did it later, at KomVux (the municipal adult edu-
cation). I have always been a keen reader of literature, and when I was younger I
used to write a lot. I wrote poems as well as short stories, and my friends were my
”readers”. So the written and read word has always been close to my heart. Music
and animals have also been interests that I have devoted myself to through life,
and people. When I was thirty-eight and newly divorced (after twenty-two years
of marriage) I seriously thought about getting back on the school bench. I wanted
to study social work. For various reasons, I put down those concerns.
My daughter is currently studying at Halmstad University, Media and
Communication Studies. She has inherited my interest in writing, and she is
very good at it. My son is very good at IT, computer programming and elec-
tronics among other things, but does not work today because of the diculties
arising from a disability that he has. I divorced in 1997, ten years ago this year.
In 2000 I met my current partner, together we have ve children (my two and
his three) and a dog. We live in the country, between his and my hometown. We
both have about a 20 km distance to work.
I had some very tough years between 1997 and 2000. Ill health, a harrowing
divorce, an overcrowding of jobs combined with poor income and the fact that
I was a self-sucient mother eventually led to the body saying stop. For about
two years I was on and o sick leave, for a maximum of several months. But
I recovered, my children got older and we nally got solid ground under foot. I
went down in and reduced my working hours (to six hours a day) and met my
current partner. Today I feel excellent and enjoy my new life extremely well. In
addition to family and dog, my great interest today is gardening and our cottage
by the sea in Bohuslän. So to the story of my path to my profession:
Catwalk and homesickness
After elementary school I was not very motivated to study, I also had no idea
what I wanted to work with when I grew older. A little at random I applied to
the oces and distribution stream in high school that I went to for a year. My
rst summer holiday during high school I worked in a nursing home for the
elderly, enjoying every bit of it. Back then there were plenty of jobs, to just pick
and choose. I dropped out of school, because I wanted to continue working in
health care. I did so for a year, too, but when I was about seventeen, I was sud-
denly “discovered”. Then it rolled on, I travelled around along with some other
“models”. A famous clothing brand at the time oered me to participate in a
show where we showed o their clothes during show-like forms at discos, clubs,
fairs and the like all around Sweden. When we came to Stockholm, I was oered
model jobs both in Paris, London and Stockholm. I stayed in Stockholm about
six months before I started longing to go home and away from the hectic and
not at all so – as I thought at rst – glamorous model world. I felt like the girl
from the country and longed for a normal job!
After the year in Stockholm followed a time with various dierent jobs. For a
while I worked in a kiosk and over a summer I was very happy with work at a
dog kennel. I returned a few months to work at Borås hospital, where I now sat
at night in patients who needed extra supervision. Aged twenty-two almost, I
got a job taking down orders at Hennes & Mauritz Rowells, a mail order rm
which sold clothes among other things. I enjoyed my time and this later led to
me getting my rst permanent job, as a shop assistant at Hennes & Mauritz
store in the large shopping mall Knalleland in Borås. When I was twenty-one, I
had my rst child (1980) and when I was twenty-three (1983) I had my second.
I worked now for a few years as a shop assistant in the children’s department at
Hennes & Mauritz. It was a fun time. I was young and fashion appealed to me,
while I noticed that the service profession suited me well.
After six years in stores, I started to feel like I wanted to do something else. I
applied to KomVux where I studied a three-year nancial high school stream.
Unlike when I was in high school, I now loved schoolwork. I greedily devoured
all new knowledge and was very ambitious. I still didn’t know what I wanted to
be, but I discovered, among other things, that I liked to write and as I said I had
a certain aptitude for service. My interest began to lean towards the secretarial
In police custody
After “the student”, I got lucky and, as one among three hundred and fty
applicants, got a job as an assistant in the police department’s theft and vio-
lence department. We were two people working together in a dispatch, where
we served about twenty detectives. We wrote reports and interrogations after
dictates, pasted pictures from crime scenes, received phone calls from the public
and more. At that time we had no computers, but we registered (=wrote down)
all the data on cards that we then sorted in card boxes. This was in the early 90’s,
and computers slowly began to make their entrance into the police department’s
oce. Slowly and with some resistance, we gradually switched from our cards
to registering in the computer. But oh, how it felt uncertain at rst, and how we
missed browsing in our cards…
But what a job!! I was very happy, the tasks were interesting and compelling,
and the working climate was very pleasant. The last year at the police, I worked
in the expedition of the Scout and Technical Division, where, after some time,
I was given the responsibility of solely managing the technical division’s seizure
ledger. This meant that I had to register seized goods in a computer system.
The goods were given a number, which together with the year when the seizure
was placed became the identication number of the goods. A printer then spat
out the seizure protocol, which would then be distributed to several dierent
instances. I kept and copied to sort into the mounting brackets, partly by id-no,
partly by type of goods (I think it was). I noticed after a while that I felt some
satisfaction when I managed to keep “good order” on the documents and I think
it was the embryo of my later interest in the registrar’s work, although it was still
largely about chance that I later became a registrar.
I spent about three glorious years with the police. Unfortunately, state sub-
sidies to the authority – as well as to many other public authorities at the time
– and when 15 civilian employees had to quit, I was one of them. With sadness
in our hearts, we hand over the administrative tasks to the police.
Two months I went out of work after being laid o by the police. Zestily I read
job classieds and nally I found a job that attracted me, at SWEDAC.
The SWEDAC Authority is a national accreditation body responsible for
control matters under the Technical Control Act. This means that they test the
skills of activities that carry out analysis, testing, calibration, certication, con-
trol and inspection. SWEDAC is also responsible for legal measurement, noble
metals and coordination of market surveillance in Sweden. An industry in the
technical eld, then! Not exactly my strong point, but what appealed to me was
the description of the work of the registrar that made me apply for at the au-
thority. Despite a well-formulated job advertisement, I didn’t really know what a
registrar was doing professionally, but I understood at the job interview that my
experience of working with the police ledger was absolutely right.
So my ”career” began. I got the job as registrar in the register and thus be-
longed to the administrative department in organizational terms. The rst six
months on my new job I had the previous registrar as mentor and professional
godparent. I got into work quite quickly and after the time of introduction I
was the sole one who handled the register. Initially I worked half-time as regis-
trar and half-time as secretary for a technical unit. But the authority expanded
greatly during the years I worked there, from having been thirty employees
when I started, we were about ninety people when I quit. The number of
cases was also large, from about two thousand cases per year when I started,
to about four thousand ve hundred cases per year when I left SWEDAC nine
years later. I remember always having big piles of actions that I was behind
with. It was quite tedious, and the work was of course also many times quite
monotonous. Pretty soon I had to abandon the role of secretary to fully devote
myself to the register.
Open and secret matters
From start, an older DOS program was used by me for registering. In order
to handle the rather large amount of “secret” matters that the authority had,
the program was structured so that we had two registers that were identically
similar, an “open” and a “secret” register. In the open register I listed all public
cases, but dealing with a secret matter, I rst had to enter the information that
was public in the open register, and then go into the secret register and enter the
information that was not public. In some cases, I had to ll in information in
both systems, which meant that I also had to search two systems for a particular
case. Oh Lord, what routines, when I think back! The programs were very slow
at that, and sometimes a search would take up to a minute!
After a few years, however, a new electronic case management system was
purchased, ÄHS. I participated, together with the administrative manager and
data manager, in the actual process that preceded the purchase. The new system
made the registration much easier, especially when the old system was “phased
out”. This authority had the practice of the administrators always receiving
the original documents, after they had been registered. And they worked with
them until it was time for shelving. Only then did I get the full case with all the
documents. Administrators in the process of “tidying” up had my desk littered
with colossal piles of would-be shelved documents each summer and Christmas
holiday. Sometimes I worked until nine o’clock in the evening and still did not
have time to get the work away as I wished.
When I was hired, the archives belonging to the authority were somewhat be-
hind. No one had previously had time to “clear”. There were piles of les along
the walls of the archive room, and it was dicult to nd anything when you
wanted to produce an older document. Sorting in a new one was not easier.
The interior of the archive was also of an older and not very easy-to-work kind.
Having been employed for a couple of years I took a grip on the archiving bit
very seriously. The old and very heavy sheet metal shelves were thrown out and
all the documents and case les stored in the archive I carried out in two nearby
Then we took in quotes and compared proposals from dierent suppliers. I
had to handle the procurement relatively independently, with the administrative
manager as support and expert help, which was very instructive. Anyway, the
new archive interior was ordered at last. The new shelves did roll like the previ-
ous ones in rails on the oor. The dierence being the new ones had ball-bear-
ing wheels made of steel and steering wheels on the short sides that allowed the
shelves to be moved by cranking the steering wheel. This was a dream come
true, compared to before when I with all my body weight had to nudge the
heavy, well-stocked metal shelves to get in between.
I learned a lot from working out the new archive. It was also exciting to follow
the organization’s changes over the years. At times I sank into deep concentra-
tion over some interesting old document.
The archive was ready, and then I and another person hired to help in the
register a few hours a day.
Inaugurating the new archival premises
Our director general cut blue-and-yellow ribbons that we attached across the
archive door. On the computer we had made a slide show explaining, among
other things, the application of the principle of public access. We had also made
a before-and-after collage of the archive’s transformation. We were treated to
cider and nuts, to music performed by the “archival troubadour” (who was our
musical data manager). All the employees at the authority, from cleaner to di-
rector general were invited, and everyone turned up! It was very successful, and
the director general concluded in his speech that this was surely the rst and last
time he would be inaugurating an archival facility… He thought it was a very
nice initiative. Wonderful memories!
Branch in Stockholm
I worked at the authority’s head oce in Borås, and we also had a “branch”
in Stockholm. In the rst few years, the Stockholm Oce’s general documents
were registered by the registrar of the branch oce, after which she called me
and so I registered the documents “by phone”. It wasn’t always that easy, due
to the fact that some documents were in English among other things, but also
simply because it could be dicult sometimes when you could not determine
the actual content of the document. Yet we did relatively well. However, it was
not very eective, it could take quite a long time from time to time. Well, that
problem solved itself after we got the electronic case management system ÄHS.
The Stockholm oce was then able to register its own. We worked in the same
database, so it was easy to get an overview of eg. today’s mail.
Needless to say, with time the number of cases grew, and after ve or six years
we were four registrars. I served as the main registrar, so sometimes I went up
to the Stockholm oce to educate, inform or just meet with the registrars who
worked there. I also had to spearhead some introduction and information mea-
sures for newly hired sta, or for guests visiting SWEDAC at times.
I particularly remember an occasion when we had visits by government of-
cials from Africa who would get an insight into the accreditation work. They
also wanted information on the Swedish principle of public access, and on how
a register worked. Loaded with overheads (the in thing at the time, so to speak)
with the info rendered in English I hit the “stage”. I encountered ten very curi-
ous Africans, dressed in costumes with sparkling colours and a lot of jewelry that
glittered. They asked many questions and sometimes appreciative hummings
were heard from them. After the presentation, they all applauded. It felt strange,
but I was later told that it is a custom with them. If they were impressed or if it
was just out of courtesy I’ll leave unsaid, but it was a nice and dierent feature
of everyday life in my work as a registrar.
During my years at the authority I received various courses and trainings,
including management knowledge, as well as several courses on registers and
archives. In addition to that, I got to attend an English Cambridge rst certi-
cate training, then we had a lot of international contacts and many documents
were written in English.
Since SWEDAC is a government agency, the authority was required to pro-
duce and present a CJ list every year. This was often quite extensive work, but
at the same time a good way to keep track of mainly older cases. During my
years at the government agency I also launched my own list, which I named the
GK list (my name is Gunilla Karlsson, so I thought it a bit resourceful). The list
was the same as in the CJ list, but with the dierence that the GK list contained
the cases that we initiated ourselves and which did not need to be reported to
Justitiekanslern (the Chancellor of Justice). A good way of clearing the register,
SWEDAC was occasionally visited by a representative from the National
Archives (Riksarkivet). The purpose was to see how we complied with the deci-
sions and rules that the National Archives had developed in its regulations and
general advice regarding the administration of the state’s public documents.
These visits I experienced as something very good, and especially the rst few
years they were very helpful, as I had many questions that I could shoot with
the representative. SWEDAC was really an educational and pleasant workplace.
After nine years, I still felt it was time to try my wings again. I applied for and
got a job as registrar at the Gothenburg Municipal Association, GR. GR is a
co-operative organization for thirteen municipalities in the Gothenburg region.
My rst task was to develop and build up the register function, which was lag-
ging behind when I got there. I participated in and led in some parts the work
to develop a document management plan for the organization. I developed rou-
tines and was involved in purchasing a new case management system (Diabas).
It was fun, and I learned a lot along the way. Among other things, I received
an initial training in procurement procedure through the City of Gothenburg.
The register sorted directly under the federal leadership of this authority, and
since the amount of the case was not very large, during the latter part of my
employment I was allowed to work as a department economist for the federal
management and as secretary of the municipal director group. To a small ex-
tent, I also worked on certain secretarial duties for the federal director.
The secretary of the federal director and I worked very closely together
during this time, and I did learn a lot from her. She was/is a very professional
and nice person and I enjoyed both our cooperation and the tasks themselves.
My position also included being responsible for the authority’s gift store, as well
as the purchase of gifts themselves. In addition, I was GR’s contact person on
cleaning and local aairs. Many dierent tasks, therefore. I enjoyed GR, but the
commute down to Gothenburg was quite stressful after a while, so I started to
look around for another job in my hometown Borås again. When a classied
seeking a substitute as secretary/registrar at the hospital’s oce appeared out of
the blue, I applied for it with great enthusiasm. Also this time I was lucky to get
the job that I was looking for.
Södra Älvsborg Hospital, SÄS
And at Södra Älvsborg Hospital I am today, just over three years later. I am very
happy and I have had the opportunity to develop routines, a registry plan and
develop a local document plan. The purpose of the plan is to make it an inter-
nal tool to make it easier to keep track of and nd their way in the huge ow
of documents within the organization. In the hospital world, I do not think that
there has always been such a clear and open tradition when it comes to register
work. The work here was therefore very much about information about the reg-
ister and its function and purpose at the beginning. In my opinion, the registrar
and the register work best if the employees view the function as a service and
a good help to keep good order of the organization’s documents, not as some
”forenger of distrust”.
I think we have done quite well in “putting the registry on the map” within
our hospital. Also working at the managing oce of the Financial Department
and the Communications Department, both belonging to the registry in orga-
nizational terms, is the chief executive. Collaborating with him has taught me
a great deal, and still does, on legal issues concerning health and healthcare
among other things. We have the same view of the registration function and
of how important it is to comply with the publicity requirements that we as an
In my job today I have about four hundred cases per year. I have a good case
management system (Diabas). We have a local archive that’s in my oce, and a
nal archive located in the basement in the culverts of the hospital. I appreciate
the development that is taking place in our eld of work. Scanning and elec-
tronic documents change our routines. The administrators may retrieve docu-
ments from the registry. And the registry is made more visible when presented
on the intranet or the internet. In the past, one could sometimes think: – who
will ever see all these days, weeks and years of notes that I do? The publication
of the register online certainly places greater demands on me, but feels much
more “meaningful” in a way. Here at SÄS we are in the starting blocks to start
scanning and presenting the register on the intranet, later also on the internet.
It’s exciting, but I also get a mild dose of butteries in my stomach. SÄS is in
favour of the development of the register and its function, and I have, among
other things, been given the green light, together with the other hospital regis-
trars in the region, to set up a registrar network to further improve and hope-
fully also coordinate our functions so that we work in the most similar way
In addition to the work in the register, where I am solely responsible for the
function, I work together with the chief executive with the administrative work
on the board. I may also step in to replace the secretary of the board in case
of illness, holiday and the like. In addition, I also work as secretary to the chief
doctors in their work to administer reporting cases such as Lex Maria (law
governing the reporting of incidents of lethal maltreatment of patients), HSAN
reports (concerning poor hospital care in general) and more.
As far as prospects for the registrars are concerned, I feel that the profession
is becoming increasingly topical and attentive. It is becoming more and more
important to keep track of documents in the large document ow of any organi-
zation. The public and the press also demand more transparency and openness
than ever. Certainly, I think that the possibility of working with electronic docu-
ments is a good thing, and that it allows for more ecient processing. But I still
believe and hope anyway that the future will stick to paper-born documents in
registry and archive. I like to sort “my” papers. Furthermore, my belief is that
it is the best and least vulnerable way to store the information for a long time
I see the role of the register and the registrar very much as a service func-
tion. I have always wanted to put a mark of openness and good service on the
register function where I worked. And I think I’ve done quite well. It’s not just
about “taking care of a lot of dusty paper” as some people think. No, it’s very
much about providing service, being agile in the eternal work of searching for
documents that you have not received to the register and so on.
As a bit of curiosity, I can tell you that I have recently received a request from
a large organization in Geneva to help them in a document management proj-
ect according to the Swedish model. The project is brand new, and it feels very
interesting and also attering to have been asked!
How I like my work
What’s more, the idea that this registering and archiving work would be some-
thing “grey, dusty and boring” I have never experienced, quite the contrary!
Perhaps, it has partly been because I have always, in all my professions, had such
incredibly lovely and talented employees and work colleagues surrounding me.
Many of them have also become my friends for life.
I love my work, and I don’t actually think I’m going to change profession.
Certainly there are drawbacks. One such is the diculty of getting someone who
substitutes in the register for instance in case of illness and vacation. Sometimes
it can also be dicult to get a hearing for how important it is to get the docu-
ments to the registry for registration. But for the most part, as I said, I think it
is a very rewarding and fun work. In most cases, I have had great freedom to
inuence and design the work. But aecting the nal result is of course to a large
extent the attitude towards the registrar as manifested by the management and
I want to conclude my story by declaring that I will probably remain a regis-
trar until retirement – at least if I can decide for myself!
Archival exam lifted the
level of discourse
Birgitta Arvidson’s recollections
My name is Birgitta Arvidson and I was born in 1940, is thus retired or “reg-
istrar emerita” for a few years. With such an old and in some part traditional
profession, one can say emerita, I think. I have worked as registrar for about
thirty years – both within municipality and state – a profession with which I
have been very happy.
I was born in Norberg in Västmanland County. My father was a clerk and
my mother was a housewife, but she worked periodically, among other things, as
a teller in a bank. As a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian, but my father didn’t
think it was a profession for a girl. As I grew a little older, the teaching profession
attracted. Oce work was unthinkable to me. I had tried it for a couple of sum-
mer holidays and thought it was so boring. After a real degree I applied for the
teacher seminar, but luck was not on my side. They drew lots about who would
be granted admission and I got a rivet.
I had already met my future husband. We got married very young and had
three children. During the eleven years when I was at home with the children,
I was a ll-in teacher for periods. Then I realized that it was not a profession I
was suited to.
First knowledge of the registrar profession
After my home years, I attended a stenographer and correspondent education
and then got a job at a major public dental clinic. There I was in charge of the
purse, switchboard and the journal archive and thus got my rst knowledge of
thinning and preservation of archival material. It was great to get out into the
Artistic processing of a colour slide
world of work and the craving for knowledge was great with me. I completed
some subjects at KomVux (the municipal adult education) and got involved in
the union. Union issues dealing with gender and equality triggered my interest
After more than ve years, I felt it was time for something new. I applied for
a position at the school oce in the municipality we lived, and got the job. The
position involved responsibility for the administrative unit where focus lay on all
the writing of letters, investigations, budget, etc. as well as registry, archives and
internal information to all schools. Eventually, the substitute bank also came to
be on my unit.
My rst task was to create working registration procedures for the Registry.
I hardly knew what the word registry meant, and even less what it meant in
practical terms. Quite young and fearless, I thought I’d nd out. Said and done.
I contacted Kommunförbundet (the Association of Local Authorities), talked to
the municipal archivist and read books on the subject. It went well and I discov-
ered that it was a very fun job. At rst, my main task was to register. The work
yielded many contacts with principals and oce clerks out in the schools. Every
day I had mail opening together with the Head of School and other head of
units. It was interesting and instructive to be involved in the discussion on the
handling of the various cases.
During a minor reorganization at the oce, I became secretary of the school
board and its work committee. I thus left the practical work on the registra-
tion, but still had the overall responsibility for the work. I felt that my new tasks
required more knowledge. On my own initiative and with the support of the
Head of School, I took a course at the University, Administrative Technology.
It became a good foundation to stand on in my work on the school board. As
secretary, I presented certain matters at the meetings, wrote the minutes and
informed the press of the decisions. The media and the public were very in-
terested in the school board’s decisions. It was a bit tingly at rst with those
contacts but it was instructive.
I had good cooperation with the municipal secretary and we started work
to develop uniform protocol procedures for the municipal administrations.
Public access legislation and registration were important elements in this work.
I trained the members of the school board in publicity and condentiality and
registration. The municipality started a longer education under the auspices of
KomVux for its clerks. I was entrusted to pass on my knowledge of document
management and registration in this context.
The school administration had no archival plan and I saw the need for such.
I met the administrative sta out at the schools and then the principals and in-
formed about the need for an archiving plan and what benet they would have
from such a plan. We collected documents from the schools to the central oce.
Based on this material, I and a colleague worked out an archiving plan for the
elementary school areas.
After more than ten years in the school administration, it was time for new chal-
lenges. My husband and I moved to another municipality and I started looking
for a job. I got a job at the university at our new place of residence. The year
was 1984. At rst I worked as secretary at the Oce of Teacher Education.
When the registrar of the central administration was placed on sick leave due
to broken bones, I asked to substitute for her. When she then retired, I applied
for the job and got it. Here my rst task was to start a project to introduce com-
puter support to the registry. After a thorough pre-study and examination of the
computer support available on the market, we got a good system for the central
administration’s registration. The institutions soon began to ask whether they
could use the same system for their registration. We updated the system, and
from 1995, 1996, the entire university used the same register system. The system
has been in use until this year, 2007, when a new document management system
was put into operation, including the documents.
I soon discovered that those who worked in the function had a negative atti-
tude towards the registrar function. They refrained from registering their docu-
ments. I asked to come to units and institutions and inform about how the regis-
trar function worked and what benet the business function could have from it.
My position was and is that the registrar should not primarily hit people in the
head with legal clauses. It scares and gives the registrar a reputation for being
bureaucratic and a stickler for red tape. For me, it has been important to have an
operational point of view. The registrar should be a support for those who work
in the organization, listen, take advantage of ideas and from there discuss how
best to work with document management, so that the intentions of the laws are
also fullled. As a registrar, educating and informing employees creates goodwill
for the registrar function. In general, it is important for the registrar to establish
good relations with his/her surroundings both internally and externally. As soon
as something was unclear in a case, I contacted the person involved in the case
to nd out if there were more documents, how the case was in the process or
whatever it might be.
With regard to external contacts, I tried to have a good dialogue with the
journalists, discuss with them, for example, whether there were cases that were
sensitive. I couldn’t deny them access to them – if they were public – but maybe
make them think. A professional registrar, you have to respond to everyone
equally. If a person is rude or opinionated, it is important to restrain oneself.
Contacts with the public were usually related to the disclosure of documents or
that a person wanted to look in the registry. The disclosure of public documents
is a delicate task, in particular where there is information with condentiality. At
that time, the university’s lawyer meant a lot as discussion partner.
My duties at the university also included training and informing the registrars
at the departments and working with the archivist to create working procedures
for document management. Computer systems require strict rules on how the
information entered should look, so that the search is made easier. The common
computer system made a positive development of cooperation between the cen-
tral administration and the institutions. It was very inspiring.
Computer support increased community awareness
The introduction of computer support had a signicant impact on my role as
registrar. I no longer became so anonymous in my professional role by using the
same technical support as other employees. Questions about the registration
and structuring of information became not only the registrar’s everyday life,
but a concern for both administrators, managers, IT people and system build-
ers. The register became accessible to everyone by the search from their own
computer. In the manual system, the employee had to go to the registrar to see
what was in the register, and perhaps it never happened because they were too
far away from the registrar.
In addition to computer support, entry into the EU meant an increased in-
terest in the registrar function – or perhaps more in the principle of public
access. The availability of documents has been widely discussed in the EU. The
principle of public access to public access is something that the registrar knows
all about, and many came to me and asked questions about the handling of
documents that came from the EU, especially contracts.
Demands for increased skills
The above factors also made higher demands on my skills. I felt an increased
need to deepen and renew my knowledge, partly to be able to meet the new
requirements, and partly to be safer in my professional role and be able to as-
sert the function better in the organization. I applied for a home study course,
20 points in Archive and Information Science at Mitthögskolan in Härnösand.
When I told my boss it was obvious that I would be able to complete the course
in the service. The training was a huge kick for me both personally and profes-
sionally. I was so inspired that I crammed 60 points and was able to get a bach-
elor’s degree in the subject.
My essay was about the registrar’s professional role in change. It aroused
interest and made me kindle many new contacts with colleagues all over the
country. There was a lot of interest within the Corps in discussing the status
and future role of the profession. I received many requests to give lectures at
conferences and seminars for registrars arranged by Arkivrådet AAS (Swedish
Archives Council AAS) and other organizers. I also had the privilege of being
involved in training registrars at another authority. It has been rewarding and
instructive to discuss and exchange experiences with colleagues. Many registrars
are alone in their function at their own authority and then contact with others
means very much. At my own workplace we were several registrars and together
with the archivist and an assistant, we formed our own unit. We had a constant
discussion about the job.
A registrar has a lot of knowledge that she has acquired through experience
and practical work. It is a taciturn knowledge, which is dicult to verbalize and
to display paper on. There has been no regular vocational training for regis-
trars, except for shorter courses organized by their own organization or external
course providers. It is a great step forward that for some years now there has
been a graded education for registrars at Mid Sweden University in Härnösand.
Many colleagues have testied to how inspiring and fun it feels to have com-
pleted the training. Hopefully it will lead to a professional culture and a common
identity for the Corps as well as a better wage development. Maybe it can attract
more men to enter the profession.
Development requires more knowledge and new knowledge. Continued and
further training internally and for special needs in their own organization; ex-
ternal training and conferences are also needed in the future but will be comple-
mentary to academic education, as I see it.
Registrar of the Future
I am sure that the registrar of the future will be an expert and advisor in adminis-
trative law, and will convey knowledge about the laws and regulations that apply
to document management in public authorities. There are lawyers available, but
in their day-to-day work the registrar’s knowledge will be valuable. Disclosure of
documents, which are the exercise of public authority, becomes more complex
with electronic case management systems while making it practically easier, just
pressing a button. Disclosure of documents requires knowledge of the Law on
Personal Data, PUL, and public access legislation. This knowledge the archivist
and registrar possess, which means that they will act as publicity ocers.
The Registrar will coordinate and guide the organization of document man-
agement so that all documents are in the cases, that it can be established that
they exist and can be researched. As a result, the Registrar becomes an infor-
In the future, administrators and others will carry out some of the tasks tradi-
tionally performed by the registrar – to enter data in the register and to take out
registration numbers. In order for it to work properly for the business function,
training and information are needed. As an expert in the eld, the Registrar can
contribute to the knowledge of the organization by training those who are to
register and inform about changes and news that aect registration. In this way,
the registrar will act as a consultant to users.
The registrar’s future task will be to help document management and tech-
nology work well together. Quality review of the information entered into the
case management system becomes an important task. Many registrars are cur-
rently system managers. A complex electronic system is likely to require the
sharing of technical and substantive stewardship. I believe that in the future the
Registrar will be a content system manager for the registry.
Proud of my profession
What is a registrar? I have been asked this question at times – a registrar is
an information organizer and an information provider. I’ve felt proud to be a
registrar. It is a profession that has undergone changes. It’s not the same today,
as when I started over thirty years ago. Requirements have increased and tasks
have changed. I have seen this as a challenge and sought knowledge on dierent
paths. It depends a lot on the registrar itself how the function is viewed and used
in the business function. If you are condent in your professional role and think
that the job is fun and important, it rubs o on the surroundings and leads to a
positive attitude to the function. That’s my experience.
The spider in the web – it is a metaphor that we registrars are happy to use,
when we describe our function. I have lled the net with what I mean charac-
terizes a good registrar.
Finally, if I am to summarize my view of a good registrar, it sounds like
this: The professional registrar conveys and organizes information, is an expert
in registration and can advise on it; have knowledge of applicable laws and
regulations, keep up to date with what is happening in the eld internally and
externally, keep in touch with the administrators, have knowledge of their own
organization – structure, working methods and culture, catch up on new cases,
assess what should and should not be registered, know who handles dierent
cases and where decisions are made, inform the surroundings about the use-
fulness of the registrar function, how it works and what routines apply, behave
safely and knowledgeably in contact with the public.
on a banana peel
Birgit Danielsson’s recollections
I’ve never met anyone who at school had a dream of becoming a registrar. It’s a
profession you don’t come into contact with until adulthood. The registrar used
to be an older, a bit dull person; room always smelling with old paper (she was
always a woman) and there were lots of binders.
So how did I get into the profession? This is my story:
I was born in 1945 and grew up in a hamlet in the countryside and I’m
number four in a sibling group of three sisters and a brother. I am a cord child,
and my mother was forty-two years old when I was born. My father was born in
1901 and my mother in 1905. They had completed ve-year elementary school,
A Swedish registrar at work at the SIF Oce in Scheelegatan in the 1940s (a section of a larger image).
as was customary at the time, and then began to work directly to make a living.
My parents were small farmers, they had to work hard and we had it pretty poor.
In the summer, my parents ran their little farm. In winter, my mother had to do
all the chores alone as my father drove timber in the forest every winter to earn
extra. He only came home some weekends from time to time to pick up supplies.
To extend the cash register, my mother weaved rag rugs, tapestries and table-
cloths for my aunt’s husband who was a salesman. For this work she received
a crown and fty ores per meter. I remember that before every Christmas she
weaved – until late at night to nish all the orders.
My parents were very careful that we children “behaved” and that meant
that we always did as we were told. We had to help out with the chores that we
managed. When I was in my teens, I made extra money by, three to four weeks
before midsummer, culling turnips for both my family and other families. For
this work I earned an ore per meter and was able to raise forty, fty crowns that I
was allowed to keep myself. That meant that until midsummer weekend I could
buy something extra, like soda or a coconut ball.
When I was in elementary school, my mother’s dream was always that I would
leave school as soon as possible and start working at the café in the church vil-
lage and help make money. However, I felt that I wanted to work on something
else and have a dierent life. With the help of my brother, who calculated that
we would receive subsidies that covered the cost because of our poor nances,
I was allowed to apply to the real school. But rst I had to promise my parents
not to demand more money than the education cost and to always help out if
necessary. I remembered the rst day when I took the bus the seventeen kilome-
ters to the central town where my real school debut was to take place. The day
in honor, my aunt had sewn a dark blue, pleated skirt and I had borrowed my
sister’s white lace blouse. The whole village had then had time to be horried
by this schooling and wondered how we could aord this, how I would wear
clothes for this and how I would cope with it given my allergies. At this time, it
was only “better families” who sent their children to the real school. Despite all
the bad prophecies, I passed the compulsory four years of real school the time,
graduating in 1963. I then applied for a one-year oce course.
After this training, I was ready to look for work and stand on my own two
feet. The only thing I thought about when I was sifting through the newspaper
classieds was to look at what I could apply for with my education. In this way
I ended up at the County Administrative Board in Falun. I remember so well
when I was at the job interview. I had a skirt that I sewed o a dress. The skirt
was a little crooked and I had to pull a little in it so that it looked straight. The
blouse was my sister’s white lace blouse that I had borrowed the rst day of
the real school. At the time of the interview I saw another applicant for the job
who seemed so parant and well-dressed that I didn’t think I stood a reasonable
chance of getting the job. Therefore, it came as a total over-call when it was
announced that I would get the job as writing assistant.
The job meant that I had to move to Falun. I was a little sorry for that. I
had never wanted to move there, because Borlänge was my wishplace. From
an acquaintance I got tips about a room with hotplate that I could rent. It was
located in an old house and the toilet was common to the three rental rooms
upstairs. Added may be that the winters were so cold that the water on the toilet
froze. Then we who lived there had to brush our teeth and wash ourselves at
work. The toilet we shared with the family we rented from. It was located on the
bottom and had two doors that could not be locked.
The job as writing assistant meant that I started typing with 10–12 copies. In
order for the text to appear on all the copies, I had to hit all the keys hard. It
was summer and hot and no matter how I washed my hands there was always
thumbprint on the pages. I was afraid and insecure and I remember how I snuck
into my room in the mornings.
Later I got to work on the County Administrative Board’s car register. This
work rst meant that I had to enter new owners, change of ownership, sales,
purchase, registration of new vehicles and more on paper sheets. These doc-
uments always lay in piles on my desk and they never ran out. I then shared a
room with another woman who was a few years older. She was well dressed and
wore gold bracelets that were ringing, and she never said a word to me.
Eventually I started working in the car registry room itself. It was a nice com-
munity between the three of us who worked there. We sat in a large room with
metal cabinets along the walls. In the metal cabinets there were paper sheets –
one for each vehicle. We had phones with long cords so that we reached all the
cabinets and could answer all requests from the public. When the car tax had
been sent out, we always received outraged phone calls from the public. Then I
heard things that I never thought you could say over the phone.
After three years as writing assistant, I was prepared to search on in life. I
jumped on a medical secretarial training course in 1966, a course that at the
time lasted a full Swedish semester. It was the second time for the course to be
held in Falun. I had saved money for board and lodging so that it would suce
during the training period.
With that education in the bag I applied for a position at Falun Hospital,
as secretary next to a curator with secretary. It was the rst time a curator at
the hospital had his own secretary. The work involved writing medical records
through dictaphone, making simple telephone assignments and also aiding an-
other curator with the printing of abortion investigations.
Operations expanded as the years passed and eventually the expedition had
ve curators working for them. I was constantly given extended tasks. Part of my
work was to call the social services around the county and, among other things,
arrange domestic help for patients who had to be discharged and ensure that the
child welfare ocer was arranged for unmarried mothers. I also helped arrange
medical certicates and assigning places at convalescence homes (which at this
time were located in dierent places in the county) for patients who needed af-
tercare but could not remain in the hospital.
I had always rented a room with the same family (those with the water that froze
in the winter) and moved with to a newer villa where I and two girls rented up-
stairs. There was a hot-plate, but we were only allowed to make coee. There
was no shower, and the family who were our landlord had wishes that we would
rather not stay in the house over the weekends.
Eventually, I got help from my manager at the curatorial oce to rent an
older apartment without a shower from the hospital; for at that time there were
sta apartments . The apartment was upstairs. It was very responsive, but there
was a toilet and there I washed some clothes that I then hung on a washing
line in the kitchen. I lived there for a few years. I remember that towards the
end there was, among other things, a faulty toilet that you always had to bring
a bucket of water to ush. But after all - it was my own apartment and I was
queen of it all.
To the Ofce of the County Administrative Board
After ten years, I felt it was time to look around. I had applied for some jobs and
was also interviewed at one of the jobs but was informed that staying ten years
in one place was a sign of inenterprise – denitely no merit. But perseverance
does it. In 1977, I joined the oce of the county administrative board, as typist
at the information department. I handled writing cases, some telephone con-
tacts, sending county council documents to the press, wrote information sheets
to employees, provided advertisements to newspapers and more. I stayed for
almost three years before it was time to change jobs again. This time I chose to
quit, because all the people I worked with had moved on to other jobs.
The terrifying big city
An advertisement in the newspaper enticed me to apply to the Swedish Road
Administration, which would move to Borlänge. They were looking for a secre-
tary to type on a word processor. The job was located in Stockholm for about six
months before moving on to Borlänge. I was still an insecure person and the big
city of Stockholm made me feel uneasy. Maybe that’s exactly why I decided to
take on this challenge. In all my previous jobs, everything had been written on a
regular typewriter, and I didn’t even know what a word processor was. Said and
done, I got the job and moved to Stockholm in the spring of 1980.
I was lucky enough to get hold of a small apartment about ten minutes’ walk
from work. The apartment I had to rent black. The toilet room was so small
that you had to back in, and then you had the washbasin almost in your knees
and lap. The shower was in the basement, in a small room latched only with
a hasp in the door. The big advantage was that it was close to work, and also
to the bus and cab if I was going out to have fun some night. Of course, I still
had my apartment in Falun – had then recently got hold of a small half-room
through Kopparstaden – and then withdrew the double cost of the dwelling in
The day I made my way down to Stockholm I was so nervous that I couldn’t
talk to my acquaintance who drove me down.
At the Swedish Road Administration in Stockholm I got to sit in a writing
room with a girl who was hired. Since I was quick and good at typing, I also
had to help other employees with writing dierent letters. For a while I had two
typewriters on each desk. Then I wrote letters on one typewriter and then I spun
around and wrote longer letters on the other. The word processor would come
into the picture after moving to Borlänge. This was also the rst time I came
into contact with the registry, because I sometimes worked with the registrar and
helped her stamp and hand out the requested drawings.
Most weekends I went home because my old parents needed to be seen and
looked after. Unfortunate circumstances had allowed them to move and build a
small house for themselves and I felt compelled to stand up and make life a little
more fun for them. My other siblings had built their own lives and thought and
felt I could take that responsibility.
Södermalm, Stockholm. Photo: Foto-Hernried
When the Swedish Road Administration moved to Borlänge, I ended up in
the Bridge Section of the Technical Department as secretary. My managing
director was very knowledgeable in everything related to bridges. But he could
come in the morning at eight o’clock, with a letter of twenty pages that he wrote
by hand at home in the evening. The papers were rolled up and rolled up no
matter how I tried to get them to stay xed the way I wanted. Everything should
be ready for a meeting at nine o’clock, which meant that I gradually had to copy
the pages I had time to nish in the required number and leave to the gentlemen
who were at the meeting.
Then I was supposed to learn how to type on a word processor. It was a
Wang. It was not altogether easy to understand how it worked! I had a younger
co-worker who would teach me, and there were a lot of funny episodes before
I gained enough knowledge. We were four secretaries in the section, and when
someone was gone I had to step in there too. Then I had to write letters to
the administrators and stamp bridge drawings that belonged. The stamp was
the same as a registrar uses, heavy and unwieldy. A number of drawings could
amount to a large carton, and it was a matter of stealing on to keep up with
everything before the day’s mail would be sent. Furthermore, I handled the
budget, travel follow-up and the like. I was busy and once it was really tangled
with the nancial follow-up. One of the managers told me that the fastest thing
was to multiply everything by 1,2. An administrator helped me with this, and we
got it in on time. Later I discovered that the decimal point ended up wrong on a
record so that we had got thirty-ve weeks of collaboration time. My managing
director hadn’t observed this – and nobody else either!
During this time I co-travelled from Falun. This meant that I each morning
half-ran, bag at my ngertips, down to town to t the time that was said and
catch the car.
To the Registrar
After about two and a half years, in 1985, there was an internally advertised
position as registrar at the Road Administration in Falun (VFW). I longed to
be able to cycle downtown in eight minutes, avoid the commute and be able to
meet acquaintances at lunch, and did not hesitate for a second but applied for
the position. It didn’t help that my managing director called me into his room,
looked at me and asked how much I wanted to stay. I had made my mind up, I
wanted to work in my hometown!
So there came the banana peel – and a new era began for me! Since I suc-
ceeded a lady who was about to retire, it was important for me to quickly get
an idea of what the registrar’s work was about. Not entirely simple! I did my
best and spent a lot of time hitting the binders that were there to gure out
how it all worked. The registration went to the use of a form set and lled in
the information on the regular typewriter. The rst page, which was original
and was white, was put in a binder. One page was blue and it was sorted into
a large and clumsy ring binder by class and event number. Work plan cases
were sorted by work plan, for example W-2346-70. One page was pink and it
went with the case to the administrator. Last page had yellow border and was
sorted in a card box by name. There was a lot of searching in that box so the
thumb was often on the move. Each action was entered at the respective Event
Number, by hand and with archive-resistant ink pen. The rst few years as a
registrar, after new year I had to take the binder with the original pages and
visit a printing house because these pages would be bound in. Later it was con-
sidered too expensive so that rule was scrapped. A permit template for heavy
transport was completed by the registrar. The stamp duty (a stamp purchased
in the post oce) and special stamp were used for the permit. The registrar
also kept track of the response times of the administrators on dierent letters.
If the letter was not answered in time, it was the registrar’s task to send a re-
minder to the administrator.
The registrar would also help in the writing room if necessary and man-
age the mail when the caretaker was free. In the writing room worked two
part-time ladies, and they would also replace me when I needed to be free.
Therefore, it was important that they had knowledge of the work in the reg-
istry. Since this was in the summer, I wanted to take a few days o. The oce
manager granted me a week in exchange for promising to be available by
telephone at noon every day so that I could tell my substitute how the mail
should be handled.
The daily routine of Road Administration
The day began at eight o’clock in the register with the caretaker handing over
the post to the registrar for mail opening. The mail was cracked open by hand
and once I was told that I was not t for my job because I cracked open too
slowly. Then, the sta, who were dependent on my postal service, did not man-
age to go home at 3:30 p.m., which was the earliest time when sta were allowed
to go home. Of course, the registrar was there every day until 4:30 p.m. The
mail was then sorted into dierent piles. The invoices were submitted directly
to the nance sta, privately addressed mail/advertising the caretaker took on
the next mail tour, and the registrar took care of the mail to be registered. The
mailing routine at VFW at the time was that once the mail had been opened and
sorted, the oce manager was to go through the cases that were to be registered
and check if the registrar had classied the cases correctly. Then it was the reg-
istrar’s turn to take care of it all. After the mail was completed towards lunch-
time, the registrar went around to the administrators in question and handed
over their work. Then followed the other tasks; insert today’s form set into the
respective binder, any reminder to administrators about the current watch date
(I entered all the watch dates in my calendar to remember to remind the admin-
istrators), printing of transport permits, closing cases, possible writing job, look
for pending cases with thumb for completion, take care of the mail from today’s
later post tour. And then it was just to start all over again! If the caretaker was
free, it was the registrar’s job to arrange the mailing rounds in the house and
make sure the mail got away in the afternoon.
Work plan routine: Work plan cases were handled as follows: The work plan was as-
signed a new object number, such as W-2346-70. The numbering was handled
by the Department of Work Plans. The item was archived on the item number
but consisted of dierent event numbers depending on the action carried out.
If a road sign had been added, this was registered on the TR30 and so on. And
the item number was always entered.
Balance routine, CJ list: In autumn and spring, the registrar also sent balance
lists to the administrators on open cases and every January the registrar drew up
the CJ list on the basis of documentation from the administrators. The CJ list
was then submitted to the chief registrar at the head oce in Borlänge.
Local archive routine: The registrar also managed the local archives, so that older
documents ended up in the right place and culled documents according to the
As a curiosity, I can mention that one day two senior military personnel came
to visit. They were checking the secret plans of the VFW in case of war. These
were locked in my safe. The person authorized to open this envelope was either
the road manager or his replacement. The road manager was out of town and
his replacement was also unavailable. Since it was not a sharp situation, we
could but smile a little furtively at the situation. It all ended with the military be-
ing allowed to leave without being able to complete their mission. As we jokingly
recalled afterwards: In the event of war, the enemy should come during oce
hours and when the right managing director is in place.
A few years later, when the oce manager retired, he was replaced by a ju-
nior manager who fully delegated the registration procedures to the registrar. I
was called up to the new managing director one day, because he wanted to know
if everything that was registered really needed to be registered. He felt that you
could see in new ways and streamline and simplify the whole lot. Then I had the
opportunity to tell him about the laws and regulations that governed the registry
and archives. He was satised with that and everything went on in its tracks...
Since I always strived to do as good a job as possible, I was also on loan to the
Road Administration in Östersund a few times and to the Road Administration
in Uppsala. I received these oers through the registrar Anita Mellin, whom I
met in Stockholm before the Swedish Road Administration moved to Borlänge.
She is now chief registrar at the head oce in Borlänge.
Of course, it was not easy to come to another county and manage a foreign
diary, but at the same time it was very instructive. Although road administra-
tions had dierent procedures and the organizations were not quite the same,
there was a lot of correspondences. A novice, this was good schooling and a
useful experience. I could look in the binders and check routines and see if there
was anything I could take with me. I was also at the head oce in Borlänge on
a few occasions and looked at their routines.
The work was very independent at VFW and new issues constantly appeared.
One piece of advice from the Chief Registrar was that I should out of the leg-
islation get routines that were appropriate for my business and stick with them.
I also signed up for the courses that were available, among others, a course
for registrars, oentlighet och sekretess (publicity and condentiality) organized
by SIPU and a course in archiving conducted at the regional state archives in
So a few years passed in peace and quiet, until the Swedish Road Administration
would be reorganized. The thoughts about what would happen were many, but
the road manager and my managing director did not believe that Falun would
suer. Oh, how wrong they were! When the decision was taken on the reorgani-
zation, it turned out that almost the entire Road Administration would disappear.
By then I had started with computer-based registration. How it would be
possible, I had learned by being on loan to the head oce in Borlänge, where
the chief registrar provided the knowledge. At rst, my managing director was
not particularly motivated by this transition, nor were my two replacements. I
had to promise them to run the registration on computer myself, and if I was
free, my replacements typed in the changes to the paper binder and then I had
to rewrite the changes to the data when I returned to work.
So six months passed, until my managing director sat in a meeting with
other managers and was told how good it was of the Road Administration to
have been looking ahead and having taken the step that everyone later would
have to take. The Falun Road Administration was the third or fourth Road
Administration to start with a computer-based registration. Then my profes-
sional outlook changed! I was also taught how to administer databases and try
to see if the Road Administration could use this approach. I visited the depart-
ments and tried to get the appropriate material to put into a database.
Some registrars refused to learn the computerized routines, saying they had
work enough anyway. I myself must admit that I was opposed to computeriza-
tion at rst but realized that I would not be able to stop the development. I’ve
never regretted jumping on the train.
Then came the big change! Road Administration was to almost completely dis-
appear – only a small local oce would be located in Falun and the work would
be directed from Härnösand, where a regional oce would be set up. It was
a tough time! We who worked in Falun had been lulled by our managers in
the assurance that everything with us would certainly remain with us. We had
changed a lot of our way of working already. Now came the awakening! In
addition to the head oce in Borlänge, seven regions were set up – in Luleå,
Härnösand, Stockholm, Eskilstuna, Jönköping, Kristianstad and Göteborg.
Road Administrations disappeared. Those of us who did not get a job in Falun
could apply to the regions, and if we did not get a job there, we would be lo-
cated in Östersund until further notice. We were oered to go on a job search
trip to Härnösand and Eskilstuna, which I supported. Look, you can always
look, I thought! But for me, it was just Falun – that’s where I wanted to be... It
was a few tough weeks when I thought here and there, back and forth. I also
had some thoughts about possible archival training if it would not work out
As for the working environment, no new furniture was purchased for the of-
ce. If the lock on the hurts broke, it was repaired with a piece of steel wire,
height-adjustable desks had not been heard of, my typewriter table that stood
unsteadily was allowed to be so. All to be sparing with the tax revenue and make
sure they were used for the roads instead. This time, my position belonged to the
human resources department and a registrar was not highly regarded among
the employees there. A later human resources manager became more interested
when I explained in more detail why and how the law stood and what the conse-
quences could be. The employees I came into contact with as registrar were in-
terested. Those saw the importance of having a registrar who was interested in
the job and who wanted order. The fact that the registration was computerized
was not a big issue for them because everything worked well. The chief registrar
in Borlänge was my contact when it came to archival matters. I had no contact
with any other interest groups.
Before Christmas I received an oer to become registrar at the regional oce
in Eskilstuna. The business was due to be up and running on January 1, so it
was important to think quickly. My assigned manager in Härnösand did not like
the idea but wanted me to stay and attend to mine. Despite this, I accepted the
oer and suddenly had to pack the bag to Eskilstuna and region Mälardalen in
January 1992. I then promised my manager in Härnösand to help out also in
Falun and ensure that the business was being managed. I was hoping that this
would be the merit that could get me placed in Falun.
Registrar in Eskilstuna
In Eskilstuna we were ve people at rst, so I had to take care of a little that came
my way – being a registrar, caretaker, secretary, etc. Region Mälardalen (VMN)
consisted of the road administrations in Nyköping, Uppsala and Västerås, and
this meant that all pending registered cases would be entered in the same data-
base. Two of the regions had hitherto registered manually. So, a real horsework!
That meant I worked till nine in the evenings. On weekends I commuted to
Falun where I usually worked one day a week, many times on Saturdays, until
the managing director in Härnösand made his mind up. Today I do not under-
stand how I coped with all this. The positive thing about the placement in VMN
was that I felt that I had the necessary experience about how routines should be
set up, how the work should be handled in the best way and how the cooperation
with the administrators should be handled. I was also in charge of the sta who
managed the registration at the local oces in Uppsala, Örebro and Västerås. It
was the secretary in each place who had registration as “as well”.
Routines as registrar at VMN
The registrar’s routines followed much the same routines as at VFW. Mail ar-
rived at eight in the morning, then followed sorting and mailing tour with doc-
uments that should not be registered. Me and a colleague shared the chore as
caretaker but it was mostly me who made sure that the mailing tours were
handled. Then at 4:30 pm it was my task to make sure that the mailbox came
to the reception for further promotion to the mail truck. Today’s mail was regis-
tered and then submitted to the secretary or head of the respective department.
Closing cases, checking the response times for the administrators, many visits by
administrators with dierent questions, lled the day incidentally.
When needed, meetings were arranged in Eskilstuna with the sta who han-
dled the registration at the local oces. Frequent telephone contacts were also
maintained. All this because the routines would be the same regardless of where
the documents were handled. Balance lists and CJ lists were handled in the
same way as at road administration. Thanks to new technology, cases were well
controlled by the registrar. Among other things, it was checked that the name
of the case administrator was registered on each case so that there was always
someone responsible. Mailing lists were also printed every day and checked to
make sure everything looked right.
Here at VMN, too, it was the registrar’s job to manage local archives, ensure
that the documents to be preserved ended up in the end archive, documents
were thinned, and the archive list managed. Although I did everything I could
to show that I was a force to be reckoned with, I did not get the job in Falun.
My managing director in Härnösand called and thought I could ask the head
of human resources in Eskilstuna if there was anything I could do in Eskilstuna.
Consequently, I was permanently employed in Eskilstuna from July 1992.
Those who became employees of region Mälardalen usually commuted from
Nyköping/Uppsala/Örebro and Västerås and did not settle in Eskilstuna. This
meant that you were quite alone if you stayed some weekend. I also felt that
although I commuted to Falun on weekends, I started to lose the acquaintances
I had. I longed for home to Falun.
Actually, it was a boost with the job in VMN, because I was involved in starting
up the business. When I started there, we were about ten people and I helped
with a little of each. Mail handling, registration, writing letters and minutes, and
more. I really proved to myself that I had learned the profession of registrar and
was able to practice it in a good way. The relationship with the colleagues was
good and I felt that everyone listened when I made my remarks about registra-
tion and requirements of the law. After the redevelopment of VMN’s premises,
the working environment was very good, with suitable rooms and furniture.
During this period I was active in the trade union work. My interest in art made
me responsible for the VMN Art Club. Unfortunately, my managing director
(I belonged to the human resources department here too) was not interested in
raising the salary I had, despite increased responsibility and great interest.
Home to Dalarna
My chance came after about a year, when the head oce in Borlänge was re-
organized and Traksäkerhetsverket (Swedish Transport Administration) was
to merge with Vägverket (Swedish Road Administration). Two full-time regis-
trars were sought to be responsible for a “block” each in Borlänge. Of course,
I submitted an application, for the jobs of a registrar, there were not many in
Dalarna. I got a bite at work as a registrar at VT (Technical Department). I
had previously applied for a job at Banverket (Swedish Rail Administration) in
Borlänge and been to an interview but not got the job. Said and done! After a
year and a half, I was on my way home again! I left Eskilstuna with mixed feel-
ings, because I felt I would miss both my job and my colleagues.
In the spring of 1993, I joined the VT department, where the registrar was
part of the sta together with the chief, controller and department secretary.
The department consisted of the vehicle section that previously belonged to
the Swedish Transport Administration, the bridge section’s various oces and
the road section’s oce. My managing director liked order, but also thought
the registrar was an important person. When the governing body of the VT
department went to look at road construction sites I was also on the team; I
was present at various work meetings, visible to the administrators so that they
would not forget to register documents (including e-mail). In some years, the
Vehicle Section was also in charge of cases relating to the import of vehicles.
We checked that all documents were in order and that the rules were complied
with. For instance, one person was only allowed to import one vehicle per year.
As many tried to evade regulations, these cases were constantly pending for
police, tax authorities and others. Much time was therefore spent copying cases
to authorities. Otherwise, all routines that I previously described at VFW and
Since I am curious and want to learn as much as I can about my work, I ap-
plied for a one-year substitute as registrar on the second block, the government
part, in 1995. I thought it was interesting to gain registrar experience from all
departments in Borlänge.
The registrar handled the local archives at the jobs, too. At this time there
was only one person who held the position of both chief registrar and state
archivist, which is why the registrar also took care of the archiving on the
Swedish Road Administration’s end archives and thinned documents accord-
ing to the archive list.
Then it was time for a new reorganization of the diary. It took place in July
1996 and the registrars came under the Law and Procurement department. The
purpose of that placement was that the registrars should be more in closer con-
tact with the lawyers in order to be able to consult them on legal matters. It was
the rst time since I became a registrar that we worked in a group. The depart-
ments were divided between us. We had our own responsibilities but would still
ensure that all the work that existed “between the chairs” oated on. The area
of responsibility also included archiving documents and managing the local ar-
chives for their cases. A registrar also became coordinator of the register group.
She was to ensure that work in the group went along smoothly, by arranging
routines for, for instance, mail opening and planning so that the job would run
smoothly despite holidays, and by reminding of balance and CJ lists and more.
At this stage, too, came the change of the chief registrar. The person who has
been the chief registrar/archivist for several years would now only devote him-
self to the job as archivist.
So life went on! A few years later, the Swedish Road Administration region
Stockholm needed a registrar who could step in a few months and help two newly
employed registrars. There were many documents to be checked o and written
into the register. The register system was also in need of a refurbishment so that
lists could be sent out to the administrators on open cases, missing documents and
suchlike. I was there almost three months and in the end I got the name “Lisa the
Lister” because the administrators thought that my questionnaires never ended.
The downside of forthcomingness
Then what was not allowed to happen happened and I was on sick leave. It
all started with headaches, body aches and numb arms, diculty sleeping and
anxiety. It was simply a tremendous stress reaction, and I ended up getting long-
term sick leave for almost three years. I was properly lectured by doctors for not
listening to the body. I had not understood how important this was but forced
the body on. This had been going on for a long time, because I had never
learned to say the word “no”, but always acted forthcoming.
But shame on the one who gives in! Eventually I started working and training
out to be able to come back. During my sick leave, the diary/the archive had
become a department of its own and also moved in with the archive appendix so
that we all sat in the same corridor. My managing director was accommodating
and helped me get tasks that t with my “handicap” and I managed to get up
to 75 percent and received sick allowance of 25 percent. Worked with a small
part of the registration and forwarding of misremitted letters both to the county
administrative boards and the trac register.
After a few years, the 50 percent state registrar job was available and my manag-
ing director asked me if I was interested. Would I be the chief registrar? What
a challenge! I didn’t think I had anything to lose but accepted the oer. The
remaining 25 percent I worked for the register side checking mailing lists etc.
Presently the driver’s unit registered in our diary system and the girls who had
registration as side task had a hard time remembering all the rules. Therefore,
it was good to look at the mailing lists and send emails when someone on the
driver’s unit or any registrar needed information about corrections made, etc.
Work as chief registrar (the title was later changed to state registrar because I
lacked responsibility for personnel) meant: coordinating the contacts between the
registrars of the regions, compiling the CJ list, helping with the newsletter sent
to all registrars and archivists within the Swedish Road Administration approx-
imately every two months, arranging the practicalities of the networking meet-
ings that were arranged twice a year, arranging information and course meetings
together with archivist and courses for the secretary of the driver’s unit on what
registration means in terms of laws and regulations and practical exercises.
The feeling of standing up in front of all these participants from dierent
authorities was incredible, to capture the participants’ interest and to feel that
“now it is…this is it…”. At that moment I felt that I had succeeded – and that
I was satised with my performance.
After a few years at 75 percent, I felt that the body could not cope. It was hard
not to get stressed and I always felt very tired. In the meantime, I had turned
61 and therefore applied for compensation from my job by 25 percent at the
beginning of 2007. I have since worked half-time, because the idea of quitting
work completely has never been a way out for me.
This year, major challenges have come our way here at the Swedish Road
Administration. On the one hand, Produktion och Konsult (Production and
Consulting) will be incorporated, and the service units will cooperate with
Banverket in order to be able to streamline the work. A new authority is to be
created and ready by the end of the year.
The registration system at the Swedish Road Administration shall be re-
placed by a new system and an e-archive shall be established; everything to be
involved in the development that is taking place today. The registrar’s future
role at Vägverket nobody knows anything about! Personally, I think that if you
take on the new things that are happening and are open to change, there is the
possibility of something new and better. I see some similarities with the major
change that took place when the registration began to be computerized. Those
registrars who were not interested disappeared, and those who could see the
possibility of computerized registration and all the possibilities that existed were
left. With this change in the register, I see new opportunities with more coop-
eration with administrators and the chance for better status of the registrar.
However, in order to be able to work with more advanced registration systems
with e-archives, a completely new training will be required. Perhaps it will be
the archivists who will act as registrars of the future or that the registrars acquire
archivist training. Only the future knows.
Finally, I would like to say that I never regretted slipping on a banana peel
into the registrar’s profession. It has given me a lot! With the Swedish Road
Administration as workplace, I have had the opportunity to visit and work at
various road administration oces in the country. For the most part, it has been
up to myself to develop my role. Over the years, I have met with many interest-
ing people and ended in exciting situations. I’ve always been passionate about
the profession and I’m still passionate about everything you can get out of the
job as registrar. If you look at the possibilities and take advantage of them, there
are no limits!!
I still remember the comment I received from an administrator I met in the
corridor at the Road Administration in Falun: “Think Birgit, as soon as I see you
I think of the balance list.” Then you can say that the message has come across.
It has always been important for me to get the administrators in the register
mindset. Because as it is said “A system is never better than the weakest link”.
Good cooperation always yields a good result.
So what does a good registrar look like? I believe that it is a person who is inter-
ested in his/her work and sees development opportunities and takes advantage of
these. A person who realizes that the register/archive area needs to be highlighted.
A person who understands to advertise his profession in dierent ways. A person
who has good contact with his/her clients and who can be seen at, for instance,
workplace meetings. A person who makes use of the educational opportunities
available. A person who is meticulous and professional in his/her profession!
Life outside of work
After my body told me to stop, I have had to set up my life by listening primarily
to what my body agrees to do. I need quiet days, but I also need days when
things happen. I like to travel and see new environments and meet new people.
I have some friends who feel “nourishing” for my life and who I like to meet.
Like to read a good book and also like music in many forms. I have participated
in rallies for old cars with my neighbour, when we had up-to-date clothes on us.
I have a sister who is ill and I support, and as a counterweight to that, me and
a neighbour have taken on a girl who immigrated from Liberia to a Swedish
boyfriend. Her boyfriend works a lot abroad, and we have often taken Anita
with us, to our friends at that, and shown her how we live in Sweden.
Incidentally, I like to exercise. For three semesters I have gone on dance class
in Argentine tango. I am also “great aunt” to two little boys in Nyköping (about
one and two and a half years old). Enjoying life and trying to get good things
out of the years that are left. I like to laugh, and I oer more to myself than I
Note sheets. Photo: Andreas Lindahl
Should you have respect
for paper clips?
Monica Andersson’s recollections
My name is Monica Andersson. I was born in 1955 in Solna where I also grew
up. I have no siblings but always had good friends. Already at the age of seven I
lost my dad, so it was my mother and I who lived together. Many a time money
was kind of short of supply, but there was always warmth and the door was
open to good friends. My mother had been a housewife but then started working
as day nurse. We were getting along quite nely, even though the sorrow having
lost dad was indescribable. We lived in Solna in a newly produced residential
area and enjoyed life. School was close and there were plenty of friends. We
often went to Småland in the summers where we had relatives.
Somewhere around the age of six I was rmly convinced I wanted to be-
come a cleaning maid. It was my professional dream for many years! I did the
schooling well, and after ninth grade I continued at Kungsholmen’s gymna-
sium, two-year economic stream. In grammar school, pryo (practical vocational
training) was involved in two professions. My rst gadget job was as a cold la-
dle at restaurant Stallmästargården, the second was at the post oce in Solna
Centrum. Why there did not become a cleaning job I really don’t know, but I
suppose it was good because the contacts I nourished at Posten (The Royal Swedish
Mail) helped me into getting a job in 1973 at Postens Centralförvaltning. It was in
the human resources department that I started my working life. I was quick to type
(a fast typer) and had to start my employment in the writing room. There were three
of us working in the same room and typing everything on typewriters. It was full
speed all the time as the machines rattled and we produced employment certicates,
compilations of candidates for vacancies, circulars and more at a furious pace. My
duties also included lling in at the register when they needed extra people.
At the registrar’s ofce
“You should have a tremendous respect for paper clips.” That’s the rst thing I
heard when I sat down with the registrar at Postens Centralförvaltning in 1973
to learn the job so that I could jump in and substitute.
A registrar and an assistant worked at the registrar’s oce. There was always
a great atmosphere there, and despite all the courses and all educations I later
attended, it was there that I learned the registrar profession. ”You should have
a tremendous respect for paper clips” is something that sits in the spinal cord,
as well as the way of respectfully handling the papers at the mail opening. At
that time, it was called mail opening, now we try to call the same thing to assess
I was quickly drawn to the registrar and the archive. As soon as I could, I
tried to help with closing and sorting cases, picking up and putting back in the
archives, writing loan notes on borrowed documents. Interest in archival work
only grew stronger over the years. And even if it’s not a cleaning job, it’s keeping
order. It suits me perfectly.
The post oce was in constant change and was regularly reorganized. In
1980 I joined Posten’s building section to be part of a project group but also
to substitute as registrar if necessary. There were other good and competent
girls there but no one wanted to invest in the registrar job. I wanted to, and in
1984 I became the regular registrar after the then regular who retired. It was a
great time and this also included being the supervisor of the writing function, a
group of about four, ve people. At that time, the administrators submitted their
printing concepts to the registrar, which would then distribute this and then
counter-read the prints against the concepts. At that time, the administrators
were very careful to register their documents. Since most, probably ninety-ve
percent of the documents, passed the registrar and writing room, it was auto-
matically made a check that the documents were registered.
The register was carried manually and on a typewriter. The register was posted
on a form set consisting of four sheets. It held four cases per sheet:
Part l constituted the diary itself – the original.
Part 2 submission register.
Part 3 index.
Part 4 balance.
When a sheet was lled with four cases, the form kit was divided. When data
on incoming and outgoing documents were registered, it was done by hand with
archive-proof pen. For cases that received many documents and thus calendar
lines, additional sheets were inserted.
At the beginning of each year, the strips for part 2–4 would be passed through
and put in order, part 2 in alphabetical order, part 3 in the order of les. Part
2 and 3 were taped up on cardboard sheets which were then left for binding to
bookbinding. It was a laborious job that took its time and often lagging several
years behind. Of these strips, a submission register and an index became bound
in books. When a year was ready to leave to the bookbindery, I felt proud to have
nished another year.
Part 1 was also bound eventually, when cases were closed and no more notes
were expected to be made. Part 4 was the balance of cases and revealed all open
unnished cases. Every time a case was closed in the register and could be ar-
chived, that strip with that registration number would be removed. The balance
was the one I wanted to keep thin and it felt good to nish cases.
Image below: Two female postal workers in 1966. Photo: Curt Carlsson. From the archive pertaining
to Postverkets Tjänstemannaförbund (roughly: Association of Ocials within the Swedish Mail
It was actually a very good system and easy to have an overview of, but can
not be compared to the nice search functions available in digital systems. Times
have changed so that the registrar profession that was a craft now requires more
I have worked in various departments within Posten, both large and small,
in a ministry and now at a foundation. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a big or
small workplace. The work is the same and you must have all knowledge of
the legislation in force regardless of the size of the workplace. Being a regis-
trar is to take part in the whole activity and to be in contact with everybody
who works there. To be called “The Spider in the Web” ts very well. For
me it is nice to feel “ready” when I go home, that everything that has been
received ended up right and been registered. What is to be registered, that
is. Keeping track of the case balance and pulling out lists to administrators
with questions about the closure of cases and what happens is also a big part
that I like.
Since I have always enjoyed the archival work of listing and drawing up archival
plans, labeling and organizing archives, it is perfectly tting that these two work
positions are so closely linked. I am not a trained archivist, although I work with
such tasks. And also there at Posten I learned to list and organize archives. Just
think how important it is that the documents end up right. A missorted case can
only be found by chance.
Thanks to the uniform listing of archives with an archive schedule that is the
same for all authorities, it is easy to ll in and not too dicult to quickly learn
the structure of the archive.
Socialdepartementet (The Ministry of Social Affairs)
Between 1992 and 1999 – after my time at Posten – I worked at Socialde-
partementets registratorskontor (the Ministry of Social Aairs’ registrar’s oce).
There was a large archive of more than ten thousand cases per year to register.
During these years I was on maternity leave for just over two years and when I
came back in 1997 something had changed and after a few years I started look-
ing for another workplace. What distinguishes the work at the ministry from my
other workplaces is the rich contact with the press and private individuals who
wanted to take part of the documents received. Every day a journalist from TT
(TT News Agency) would come to look through today’s mail. With journalists
it was pretty easy, they generally knew what they wanted to look at. Private in-
dividuals demanded more as they often had plenty of time and wanted service
to produce all sorts of documents received by the Minister of Social Aairs. I
liked this contact, and over time we divided the work so that I took care of those
KK-stiftelsen (The Knowledge Foundation)
On a tip from a friend I saw a classied for a registrar position at KK-stiftelsen
where work also included organizing and building the archive. And the work-
ing hours were eighty percent! I shall have that position!, I thought. I applied
and got it, too. It was fun and a challenge to almost start from scratch with the
build-up of the archive. It was a matter of collecting material and documents
to be stored there, much of what had previously been with the administrators.
I started there right after the Christmas and New Year holidays in 2000. When
I showed up just before Christmas at my new workplace, I got a list from my
manager with items that should be taken care of, a list compiled by the National
Archives (Riksarkivet). That’s right, I was on Christmas leave, a little woeful
and very impatient, before I started dealing with it. The rst few months were
spent emptying of consumables the archive that had been used as a storage
room! Then came work on drawing up archival lists, descriptions and proce-
dures, terminating open documents, clearing after administrators who had left.
The workplace was very open, both in terms of contacts with colleagues and
the physical environment. Everyone was helpful and there were no closed doors.
Now, after eight years at the KK Foundation, I still enjoy working very well with
both work and colleagues. What can feel less good sometimes is that I am alone
in my role, there is no one to share and shoot problems with. My closest contact
to discuss archives with will therefore be the National Archives and my contact
person there. It is also good that there is a network of registrars. My working
day is largely divided into two parts: before lunch and after lunch. Before lunch:
registering incoming documents by letter and electronically. After lunch: archive
care, case closure, case statistics and case balance.
The development from manual diaries and typewriter diaries to digital sys-
tems has been very fast. Already in the late 80’s, a forward-thinking archivist
at Posten thought that the registrars should change their title to document
controllers. I think this is more appropriate and would perhaps also raise the
status of the profession. The registrar, as I have experienced it, has always
played a signicant role and the condence in the registrar is great. Wage
development, on the other hand, has not kept up with the development of the
profession. I understand that the status does not keep up with the same pace,
a registrar always has its obvious function but it is not valued as strongly as,
for example, services in IT and communication. Keeping track of the orga-
nization’s documents is a great responsibility to bear as a registrar. It is also
important to be aware of the laws that apply and to know where the right
information is available to retrieve.
What I think characterizes a good registrar is that it is one with “thick skin”.
She/he is a strong, orderly person, unafraid to go to administrators about the
importance of registering his/her documents and ensuring that cases are closed.
A registrar never gives up, it may take time but she/he never gives up. If she has
taken on a task, it will also be performed.
In the future, I believe that all received mail, letters, applications, reports and
so on are completely replaced by electronic mail, that all documents/cases are
kept digitally and that the mail ow will increase. The technology has moved
faster than the way we are safe to preserve and retrieve requested materials.
This will pose diculties in the future of receiving and recovering received and
To me, the professional role as registrar and archivist is almost like working with
a hobby. Surely, there are days that are recalcitrant, but a more fun work I can
But it is also important to have a balance in life, and leisure time is just as
important. My family consisting of cohabiting partner, a daughter and two dogs
is extremely important to me. On weekends and longer holidays we usually go
out with our own camper van. A lot of spare time has been spent on camper van
life since 1989. We have a great deal of interaction there and the social part is
very important to me. To surround myself with people I enjoy, it makes me feel
good. It is also a great freedom to ride by camper van. At some point we started
without a specic goal and then there were a few extra laps in the roundabout
before we decided which way we would go. With an interest in camper vans
came a strong association commitment. For nine years I was active as secretary
on the board of a nationwide motorhome association.
takes the cake
Ingrid Joelson’s recollections
My name is Ingrid Joelson and I was born in 1950 in Linköping. My mother was
born in 1923 on an island in the archipelago called Väderskär at Loftahammar.
My father was born in 1918 at Ekängen outside Linköping. My mother was a
maid on some farms in Loftahammar, later she moved to Linköping as a maid
with a doctor in the city. Then she became a housewife when she married and
raised me and my brother, who was born in 1948. She worked for a few years
at Robo as a workshop worker. Just 43 years old she died of cancer. Dad oper-
ated a newspaper cart, one of the few newspaper carts that had large sorting of
foreign newspapers. He worked all the time during my childhood, it feels like.
When Pressbyrån (The Newsagent) closed the newspaper carts, dad became re-
dundant. He got a new job as caretaker that he enjoyed, and it worked on until
retirement. Dad died in 2000.
I had a happy childhood with a loving mother who had time with me. The
school worked, we had good teachers who we had respect for and who were
knowledgeable. I guess it wasn’t smooth sailing for me, but I was ambitious and
did the schoolwork well. Mediocre according to the grades. Gymnastics, I was
the best in. Went to my spare time in voluntary gymnastics and got up to the
Then the horses and animals came into my life. Our family had a summer-
house in Valla which is close to the stables, so I spent all my spare time there and
made new friends.
I was tired of school and didn’t feel like studying anymore after ninth grade.
What I wanted to be was zookeeper, maybe riding instructor. But my parents
did not favour that idea, my parents who thought I should try oce work. And
that’s how it turned out. In 1966 I got a job at NAF, a company in Linköping
that manufactures valves for various pipe systems. My work was as an oce
delivery, which meant that I left and picked up mail at the various units, copied
and handled other oce duties. After a few months I got a job as a light master.
The work involved managing a large copy machine and a large drawing ma-
chine and performing copy and drawing jobs on order from all the units. It was
a nice job and there were two of us working there.
After about two years I got a job at F3 Malmslätt as a clerk. The work con-
sisted of sorting mail, copying, typing, machine counting and retrieval of mail.
Two years later, I started working as clerk at Lantbruksnämnden (roughly The
Board of Agriculture). It was a similar job to the previous one, with various
oce doings. What was added was to act as a substitute in the telephone switch-
board. Not long after, the computer made its entry into our work. With word
processing and with amazing registry possibilities. What a tool! Now everyone
got a computer: administrators, managers and clerks. The job was signicantly
changed – from writing by concept, with several copies and carbon paper in
between to writing letters yourself. As time changed, tasks changed and we were
given more responsibility, such as paying EU subsidies to farmers.
Somewhere in this I still felt that the organization became unclear and dif-
cult, so after many years of hesitation I took a break and went to folk high
school. In 2001, I was asked if I wanted to start as a registrar at another unit,
and there I still work after seven years, and it feels very good.
My duties today as registrar are as follow: mail is picked up in the mailroom;
and once a month I have mail opening with sorting of all county administrative
board mail. Mail is stamped and some of it is registered. Everything is sorted
in the mail boxes at the unit (this usually takes all morning). Cases are expe-
dited, I copy what is needed and sort it into brieng books. Cases that are on
guard should be checked, e-mail and the e-mail of the unit should be reviewed.
Archiving of the unit’s cases is placed in archive boxes and submitted once a
year to the central archive. It is important to pay attention to changes in the
Archives Act and the Register Plan. The work includes that you look for cases
in the register and in the archive. I have a lot of customer contact when people
ask about cases and where to turn. I also execute positions of all kinds – noti-
cations, bookings of premises, buns for meetings at the unit and more. Monthly
statistics are made once a month on four subject areas related to the unit. I
also work with control and registration of the foundations’ annual reports and
registration of hunting results of elk.
Technology is the big dierence today. All the work is in the computer and
the pace is high. You should know everything, you should go to trainings, you
should attend meetings, you should take part of all the information. The dis-
advantages are stress, with pain in the shoulders and neck due to the computer
and the stress. Even if you can’t believe it, social skills are important. Because
even though much of the work with your tasks is solitary at the computer, it is
important that the group or unit works together.
The spider in the web
It feels like you are the spider in the web but is the worst paid. I don’t think the
status has changed that much over the years. It seems that people from outside
appreciate the work and have a dierent idea of the status of my job. But among
my colleagues, all of whom are highly educated, you have a low-status view of
my job. I should be able to answer everything, yet you do not value it. In the
1970s, the authority was generous with courses and training, but then it swung
and the economy tightened (in the 90’s). Now it has gotten better again.
So how’s a good registrar? I believe that a good registrar should be able to
have many things going on in the air simultaneously and be stress-resistant, ac-
curate and competent. The registrar should have a good spirit of service and be
able to cooperate with all types of people.
My view is that the registrar profession will not exist in the future. Applications
and decisions and more will be made electronically and registered automatically
and each of the administrators will have to do everything themselves, dispatch
and copy and look and keep track of their cases. For my part, I think I will get
some administrators’ deal in the future, and in this way I will develop in my
work; it feels positive.
Home and leisure
I am married to Bertil who is a carpenter and we have two children. We have a
large garden and also a large vegetable garden where we grow a lot of vegeta-
bles for household needs. We like nature and culture and spend time with friends
and relatives. I read a lot of books and walk a lot in winter. In the summer it is
gardening that takes most of the time and also I cycle a lot, both to work and by
the canal at Berg.
Could not stand seeing
blood – started at the
Eva Larsson’s recollections
My name is Eva Larsson and I was born on May 27, 1944 in Bollnäs. My father
was born in 1914 and my mother in 1921. Both my parents came from Bollnäs.
My father worked as a chaueur. He went to school for six years. My mother
worked as a waitress and a shop assistant. She also went to school for six years.
I grew up in a family of four people. Besides my mother and father, I have a
brother who was born in 1938. We lived in a calm and harmonious environment
with many family reunions that I often think of. I had many comrades and felt
that I was well liked. I went nine years to school, corresponded to real gradu-
ation. Then I went to business school. Actually, it was my childhood dream to
become a craft teacher. But since I liked and was good at numbers, I got a job at
Eva Larsson in the sixties.
Eva Larsson in the sixties.
Sundsvallsbanken in Bollnäs. It was 1961, just when I was out of school. But in
1963 the whole family moved to Gävle. There I got work in the nance depart-
ment at the county council’s oce (see more about it below).
The County Council did not let go
Forty-four years ago I started working in Gävleborg County Council, a work-
place that inspires security and condence and where I enjoyed it very well.
During this time, a lot has happened, with many changes, although I myself
have always enjoyed change, because they can actually lead to something better!
(When) I was 19 years old, I went down to the county council’s oce in Gävle
for a job interview. I’d applied for a position in the nance department. Since I
went to see my parents every weekend, I remember that it was a Sunday night
that I was going to meet the CFO for this interview.
I got the position in the nance department and in November 1963 I moved.
The salary was – if I don’t remember all wrong – 600 Swedish crowns per
month. I thought it was great, because at the bank I made a lot less money. It
felt exciting with new colleagues and a new environment. For just over a year I
was still in the nance department, then it was time for something new. In the
open health care at the county council’s oce, a secretary was sought, and this
was my rst secretarial job.
In 1965, my daughter was born. I was on maternity leave for about ten
months, then I decided to stop working, and be home instead. But the contact
with the work I never let go, but worked at home with some writing work, even
during the maternity leave.
In the summer of 1966, I was back in the nance department. I was at the
purse as a holiday substitute. A little later that year I was visited by the planning
manager. I was with my family in a cottage in Nås in Dalarna and he was on
his way to his summer house and looked me up. His secretary was going to quit
and he needed a new one. My answer was “yes please”. I stayed with him until
I moved to Bollnäs again in the turn of 67/68.
It was the second time I stopped working at Gävleborg County Council, and
I thought once again that now I will be at home with my daughter. But fate
wanted dierent – and thank you for that!
The head of human resources at Bollnäs Hospital had been told that I had
moved to Bollnäs. He contacted me immediately about a substitute as secretary
of Ward 33. The department had been restructured from a private ward to an
intake and intensive care unit in January 1968, where a secretary was needed.
I had a bit of a hard time deciding because I didn’t have a childcare – my hus-
band was out of town on duty and my daughter Maria was sick with rubella. But
it was no problem, I was oered a place for her in the epidemic department, by
the chief medical ocer at the medical clinic. Other times, indeed!
The very next day we rst set sail for the epidemic department and then
Ward 33. Maria only needed to stay in the hospital for 24 hours, because when
my father heard of this, he took time o from work and was home with her
instead. My parents did not enjoy Gävle, but had also returned to Bollnäs only
after a year in Gävle. When Maria then got well, she was allowed to be at the
hospital’s “crib”, which was in the former “sysslomansvillan”. There I had been
and played as a seven-year-old because Karin, one of my classmates, lived there.
She was the daughter of syssloman Jonsson (trustee Jonsson).
To me, the hospital environment was completely new. I couldn’t stand seeing
blood, how could it be in a ward at the hospital? The rst few weeks didn’t go
well at all. I almost fainted several times during the rounds. But the years passed
and apparently you can learn most things. As secretary, I was allowed to agree
to the round every day and both write notes and assist the chief physician when
he would do certain examinations.
This “substitute” lasted 13 years. Then, in 1977, I made plans for a hiatus
and attended a medical secretarial training but after training I returned to the
33. I enjoyed it so well there. For me, the years in this department were very
instructive. It was useful to see how the work in a department was carried out. It
was a stressful job. Sta who work with the ill at health all day do it really well.
Anyway, it was time for me to look around for something new, and then of
course within the county council. I divorced and wanted to start working full
time again, which I did not do at Ward 33, where we were two secretaries who
worked seven days each.
In the autumn of 1981, the head of the expedition at the county council’s
occupational health service was to be on maternity leave. I applied for the sub-
stitute and it became my new job for about a year.
Continuing my changes within the County Council
Then it was time to change again, but what would it be this time? Well, a project
work as secretary to the project manager at the Change Oce. It was an oce
cabinet that was founded in 1982 and was to work on psychiatry restructuring.
We were a team of three people who worked under the county council centrally.
It was a very independent work and fun, i.a. we organized a two-day national
conference on psychiatry. Almost 400 people signed up for it and I did almost
all the administrative work with, among other things, booking of all persons
(without the help of a computer). Then I wrote a SPRI report (health and wel-
fare planning) directly from a video recording. Today it may seem completely
unlikely to work that way, yet it is not so long ago.
Change Oce ended in 1988, and we who worked there got other jobs. I
started in the oce department at Bollnäs Hospital, where I remained until
October 1993. While working in the Registry Department, I got a chance to
attend an education at Komvux to learn a layout program. This meant I could
help make the hospital sta magazine. My rst PC I got in 1987. In 1993, the
Gävleborg County Council decided to form two primary care administrations –
one in Hälsingland and one in Gästrikland.
The health care service Hälsingland would have its oce in Bollnäs and ve new
positions were applied for at the Primary Care Oce, including an administrative
coordinator. It sounded exciting, but would I again change tasks? This time it was a
little harder to decide – I would dare? You get more thoughtful over the years.
At the same time, there was a lot of talk about cuts in the hospital adminis-
tration, so I thought it best to look around for something new anyway. I got the
position among many applicants and it felt really exciting.
In October 1993 I started working at the Primary Care Oce. I have en-
joyed my work as an assistant to the Primary Care Director. The “Primary care
Hälsingland” administration consists of health centres and rehabilitation units
all over Hälsingland.
After six years, the oce moved to Söderhamn and there we are still. The
oce’s stang has increased signicantly since the start, and we have also
changed the primary care director ve times.
I had a heart attack in 2004, and since 2005 I work half-time. It was really
only then that I got more time for the registrar role. I have developed it consid-
erably and taught everyone in the registry to search for themselves in the diary,
which has made everyone aware of something that previously seemed so unin-
teresting. Almost all of our units have been visited by me, where I have informed
about the role of registrar and what and why it registers.
Over the years, I have regularly been in touch with the Archives. I have also
organized training and information days for the administration’s archive pre-
senters and archivists.
My central role, a bit of the “spider in the web” has made my services de-
manded by managers, employees and union representatives. I have had a good
relationship with everyone. My work has been independent and I have been
able to inuence the work myself.
My professional role and the profession I have chosen, I have always been
proud of, and it has therefore rubbed o on my colleagues. What characterizes
a good registrar is rst of all that she herself thinks the work is fun, but also that
she can inspire others. When other sta understand the importance of the register
and learn to use it themselves – then they have succeeded as registrar.
My future looks like I resigned on 1 July 2008 with a special contract pension.
As of January 1, 2008, the Gävleborg County Council formed divisions where two
primary care administrations became one division. Since I just turned 63, I thought
it was appropriate to end my professional career, so I took a bite when I got the oer.
I live in a special relationship. I live by myself in a HSB at with 3 rooms and
a kitchen (HSB, The Savings and Construction Association of the Tenants).
I have one child, two grandchildren and a great-grandson and they all live in
Stockholm. In addition, I have a mother in Bollnäs whom I care about. She lives
in a group home but still needs help. My friends and acquaintances are close to
my heart, dancing and walking are hobbies that I get more time for now that I
become free and retired.
Born to register
Britt-Louise Skalin’s recollections
My name is Britt-Louise Skalin, (called Britt) and I was born in 1943. My maiden
name was Ringkvist. I was born at the Maternity Ward at Sundsvall Hospital
and funnily enough, the building is now municipal hall and where I work at the
time of writing as registrar with the Child and Education Administration Oce.
My father, Ivan Ringkvist, was born in 1904 on Alnön, which is located a few
kilometres outside Sundsvall. He was one of seven siblings in a rather poor
family. My father eventually became a merchant and opened his own shop.
My mother, Eva Lindqvist, was born in Järkvissle in 1914. Järkvissle is a small
village located a few miles west from Sundsvall. Likewise, there were seven sib-
lings in her family and the family lived in small circumstances. Both father and
mother agreed the short elementary schooling that was then oered. Mother
eventually became a shop assistant in their joint shop.
I grew up in an old wooden house in central Sundsvall. We lived in a room
with chambers. The heating consisted of wood stove and tiled stove. I don’t have
any siblings but my parents took care of a cousin of mine for a few years after his
parents’ divorce. My father worked on what was available, among other things
saw ice cubes out of the ice at Sidsjön. The ice was transported to the refrigerator
of the time. He also drove the producer gas truck with beer and soft drinks which
were delivered directly home to the homes. After various jobs, he found work at
Härolfs, a shop that sold clothes on payment. He worked there for a few years as a
debt collector. Then he opened a small installment deal himself, rma Ritho. The
shop became my parents’ livelihood. It dismantled when they retired.
My mother’s parents rented a farm with horses and cows in Järkvissle. As
an 18-year-old she got a job in Sundsvall with wholesaler Ulander. There she
worked as maid, with all that it meant in a large apartment that was heated with
wood and coal. Eventually she met my father and when I was born she became
a housewife. She contributed to the supply by being a change seamstress for
Härolfs and later shop assistant/change seamstress in my parents’ joint clothing
The family lived in small circumstances, but I remember my childhood as a
happy time. A neighbour had a haulage rm with horses. Me and my cousin
Bertil often stayed there and played with their son Kalle.
When school started, I was so close to it that I could leave home when the
bell rang. It is called Gustaf Adolfsskolan, a large beautiful stone house very
central to the city. The school is still there but is now used for upper secondary
I was the rst “batch” when the nine-year unit school was introduced in cen-
tral Sundsvall. After elementary school I went to Handelsskolan.
During my years in school administration, I have also trained a lot in the
service. It was everything from PC training, board administration, registration/
registrar role, higher administrative education, layout, English, the principle of
public access, the secrecy law, to mass media contacts, course in print produc-
tion and information in practice and more.
My rst job was given to me as a clerk at Västernorrlands Byggmästareförening
(Västernorrland Association of Builders). I worked there almost fourteen years.
In my early years, it was part of the work to calculate the wages of construction
workers. At that time, there were surveyors, one from the employers’ side and
one from the trade union side, who together measured all the work carried out
on the construction sites. Every kind of work had its price. The summary of the
measurement work eventually resulted in the wages paid to the construction
On a dark green electric calculator, I rst calculated the amounts for each
measured work from the notes of the surveyors. Everything was compiled and
on that basis a calculation was made of the surplus wages of construction work-
ers. The printouts were later done on a manual typewriter. Carbon paper was
used to get the number of copies needed. It was a matter of not typing wrong.
In case of need for a larger number of copies of letters, stencils were used.
Stencils were brittle and creased easily, but with a little training I became quite
adept at handling them. Copiers did not exist. It was really modern when we got
a kind of copier that was lled with a liquid and another kind of paper was used
to get copies. If you were really fast, you could get 10 copies per sheet.
The diary of temptations
After fourteen years in the construction industry, I applied and got a job as clerk
at the then School Oce in Sundsvall Municipality. The year was 1974. There
I worked at the writing centre. The work primarily involved making prints ac-
cording to the ocials’ concept and to handle the printing and dispatch of
summons with related documents to the School Board. Think, now there were
electric typewriters, such a progress!
Pretty soon I was interested in the diary and substituted there at various
times. My lucky day came in 1978 when the position became vacant. Since then
I have worked as a registrar at the School Oce, which is now called the Child
and Education Administration Oce.
The School Ofce at the forefront of technology
Each record was made on cards inserted into the typewriter. I worked mainly
with two card boxes that contained registration cards for the next two years. It
worked well, I learned the system and it was quick to retrieve cases. What was
not good was that there were many twisting movements between card boxes and
the typewriter and I started to have problems with my back. However…
By then, technology would have moved forward again. After rst passing
the manual and then electric typewriter which later also had a small memory
function, the “stupid” terminals came. The department I worked in handled
administrative tasks in the oce and we started to hear for ourselves which mu-
nicipality in the country had started with computers within the school world. It
turned out that there were not so many yet, but in Gothenburg it had started.
We were ten girls and our boss, a man, who went on a study visit to Gothenburg.
My administration and social services in our municipality were the rst to
start with terminals, on trial. I think it was partly because we ourselves were
curious and interested. At least the vast majority. One of my colleagues felt
unsure about a computerized future and said that “if we’re going to work with
computers then I’ll be a nanny again.” She tried the new anyway and found
it much more fun than she had thought. Returning to the work of a nanny or
working with a typewriter were no longer an issue. From now on, it was termi-
nals that applied.
The rst terminals had dark brown background and yellow text and high ra-
diation as well. Not very user-friendly, that is. Eventually, the computers arrived.
What a boost. But the programs were not so developed yet, especially not the
case registration programs. The rst case registration program I started working
with in 1989, after testing it in parallel with the card boxes last quarter of 1988.
From January 1989, I dodged the card boxes and switched entirely to comput-
In addition to the registrar’s work, I was also secretary to the Chairman for
a ten-year period. I also produced a lot of brochures, including.: Noterat – ett
informationsblad (Noted – an information handout) published every fortnight
and sent out to our school leaders with along with several others. I was also
behind our very popular School catalogue where I produced text documents,
made the layout, ordered the print and arranged mailing lists for the mailing.
The school catalogue had an edition of about four thousand copies. I also made
a small fact sheet in pocket format, Sundsvalls skolor (The schools of Sundsvall),
to mention part of the production.
Furthermore, I drew Christmas cards for the administration for a period of
time. The cards were printed at one of the city’s printing houses and were used
by us who worked in the administration.
I still work as a registrar at the former school oce, now called the Child and
Education Administration Oce. The work has really evolved during my
time in the profession. I myself have also tried in various ways, on many occa-
sions, to spread my knowledge and experience, primarily to school leaders and
Our organization was a few years ago divided into central oce, six school
districts and two high schools. I worked a lot to get the register started also
even out in our schools and eventually saw to it with a nimbus of success that
each school district got its own registrar. There were also two registrars in high
school. Over the years I have trained all registrars in the administration and
been their support. New reorganization was carried out in 2005 and all school
districts were closed down. This meant that the school district registrars also
disappeared. Today, all registration is carried out centrally for the Child and
Education Administration Oce and all primary schools at the Child and
Education Administration Oce. Sundsvall gymnasium still has two registrars
My work week begins by opening and distributing all incoming mail, then
sorting out what is public documents and to be registered. The same procedure
also applies to e-mails to the Authority. If our head of school is gone away, I’ll
also go through her e-mails. Every Monday I pull out a register list of the previ-
ous week’s list entries. The list is faxed to our local media. They later contact us to
obtain copies of the documents they think are of interest. Much of what is writ-
ten about the school in our local media originates in the school’s diary. The reg-
ister currently occupies most of the working week, as the amount of documents
passing through is comprehensive. The Child and Education Administration
has approximately 3,000 employees. I also participate in phone-matching to the
head of school. In addition to mail opening and registering, there will be a lot
of phone calls – from the public, the media, school leaders and more. School is
an area that interests a lot of people in society and the variety of documents is
endless. Our administration is responsible for pre-school/pre-school class, pri-
mary schools, high schools, special schools and cultural schools.
An important job for the registrar is to keep track of all kinds of public doc-
uments and to ensure that processing times are followed and that people who
are waiting for decisions on dierent issues receive answers within a reason-
able time. Providing information to the public, the media and colleagues is also
part of the registrar role. Equally important is to spread knowledge about what
the principle of public access and the freedom of the press mean. The more
knowledge of the register that my employees have, the more they understand
how important it is that the registrar receives the documents to be registered. I
have on several occasions had training on the publicity and condentiality for
dierent groups of school leaders, and also for administrators, and it has been
appreciated and given a completely dierent understanding of how to handle
I believe that the status of the registrar profession will increase because there
is now a university education for registrars. Employers and colleagues in most
cases think that the register is important, but knowledge of how the register, the
principle of public access and the secrecy law work is often limited. The employ-
ees who discover that the register can also be helpful to them, facilitate the work
of the registrar by taking care to submit their documents to the register and to
use the registration number they have received in the further handling of a case.
A good working cooperation between colleagues and the register is the basis for
an easy-to-work diary.
The characteristic feature of a good registrar, I believe, is the sense of order
and patience and, of course, good knowledge of the laws and regulations that
apply to the handling of public documents. It is important that the registration
is handled immediately and that the documents are quickly sorted into the ar-
chive. If the registration lags behind, a lot of time will be spent searching for
documents. When the registrar has control over the register, the work becomes
both easy and fun.
The future of the registrar role looks bright. For some years there has been an
education for registrars at Mid Sweden University and this gives the profession
better status. If that training had existed before, I would almost certainly have
passed it. If the status is raised in the profession, men may also be attracted here.
As far as I know here in Sundsvall municipality, only women are registrars.
Progress has been made, from the time of the card boxes to today’s regis-
tration. Today, the applications have evolved to not only be case registration
software but document management software. Access to the documents is thus
In a large administration, such as the one I work in, it is becoming increas-
ingly important that the registration works. Therefore, continuous information
is needed, to all employees but primarily to everyone in management positions,
on how to handle public documents. For many years I have wanted resources
for a part-time position to be allocated for time to contact and information be-
tween registrars and our school leaders. We have over a hundred school leaders
and there is often turnover on the services, so I know that the need exists. Good
cooperation between the professional groups would be the basis for an even
better functioning diary. Unfortunately, no money has been set aside for such a
During the years I have worked, there is a clear change in the management.
When I started working in school, there were very few female school leaders
and senior ocials. Today there are more female school leaders than male and
among senior ocials it is about the same for the sexes.
Being a registrar in the school world is fantastically fun, stimulating and var-
ied work. There’s a lot going on at school – boring as well as pleasant incidents.
Also, there is a lot of phone calls from parents, students or relatives of the stu-
dents. A counsellor you sometimes become a wee bit. I feel great satisfaction if
such a conversation can end with a happier and happier person who has spoken
his mind and heart and to whom I have been able to provide information about
the school and suggestions on how the person can proceed in his/her case.
Home and leisure
My family consists of me, my husband and a daughter who has moved out.
We own a villa in Sundsvall and a summer house in Ållerviken about 20 km
south of Sundsvall. The cottage is now owned in the third generation on my
husband’s side and it is beautifully situated by the sea. My daughter works at
Mediegruppen here in Sundsvall and she also has a horse – Svarten (Blackie) –
we help to manage.
We have lived in our villa for more than thirty years, are very happy and
have a good neighbourly relationship. We have close, good friends, whom we
often visit at their summer cottage located on a small island in Juniskär south
of Sundsvall. Other close friends live in Härnösand, just north of Sundsvall,
friends that we have had for more than thirty years and who we celebrated
many midsummers and New Year Eves together with. Former neighbours and
very good friends are now in Småland, and despite eighty Swedish miles away
we meet as often as we can and also have contact by phone and e-mail. Another
close and dear friend for many years is a woman who also owns a summer
cottage in Ållerviken. Unfortunately, she lost her husband and our good friend
almost three years ago, but the friendship between us continues as before.
My hobbies consist of gardening, needlework, walking, swimming, picking
mushrooms, studying birds. My husband and I are members of Sundsvall’s
Mycological Society, Medelpad’s Ornithological Association, Ållerviken
Summer Cottage Association and Ållerviken Community Association, Njurunda
Homeowners’ Association and The Homeowners’ Association.
I am approaching retirement age now and have only recently, on May 2007,
moved on to work half-time and shall continue to do so until I have reached the
retirement age at the age of sixty-ve. It feels luxurious and absolutely wonder-
ful to have had the opportunity to work so after forty-six years of full-time work.
On the day I retire, I will be happy to remember my work as a registrar – a
fantastically fun, stimulating and varied work.
Britt Skalin at the pen. (Section of a larger image.)
interest adds up
Eva Karlsson’s recollections
In 1987 I was employed by the municipality of Alingsås as an archive assistant
at half-time. Today I am a municipal archivist and IT secretary full time. On this
journey I would like to tell you about my hiatus as registrar.
I was born in 1960 and grew up in a small community called Gräfsnäs. Until
1974 it was located in Bjärke municipality, and after the municipal merger it be-
came Alingsås municipality. My father worked in the wood industry. My mother
was a housewife and worked in various odd jobs. Later, she worked part-time in
the manufacture of sports prizes. She then worked in the wood industry. My fa-
ther was a trade union member, active in the Wood Industry Workers’ Union. I
am married and have two children: a 17-year-old son and a 13-year-old daugh-
ter. I live in the countryside, a Swedish mile and a half outside Alingsås.
When I was in high school I studied the humanistic stream semi-classic
variant, which entailed Latin on the schedule. History and Literature, also, I
very much took a liking to. However, I did not like numbers, so I wanted to
avoid mathematics. After nishing high school I went to Stenebyskolan in Dals
Långed, in Dalsland. I studied weaving and had envisioned work in therapy.
At that time, weaving as an employment in care homes of various kinds was
common. That was not how it turned out. On January 2, 1980, I was employed
by a rm in Gräfsnäs that produced and sold sports prizes and various lotteries
and winnings for these. I worked mostly with administration, wages, accounting
and accounts receivable. In the autumn of 1985, I was on study leave and stud-
ied history 20 points at the University of Gothenburg. I felt like wanting to do
something else. I lacked development and wanted a job that tied to my interests.
Great interest in history
In my spare time, I became involved in the Swedish local heritage movement. I
was secretary of the board of Långared’s local history association and besides
that I also did family research. I also participated in inventories of crofts and
farms. History is an interest that I always had and when I was really young I
wanted to be a professor in the subject. An interest in nature, especially birds, I
have also had since I was young. I like to read ction but time is not enough to
read as much as I would like. Instead, there is frequent newpaper reading.
Card table for registering
In May 1987 I was employed as an archive assistant at 50 percent in Alingsås
municipality. It was incredibly fun with a new job and I was so happy to work
in a municipality. It felt so useful. During the autumn I started to help the then
registrar of the municipal board to sort registered documents into a large metal
le cabinet. At that time, the municipality had a manual register with index
cards and lists. The cards were stored in a kind of table where the tabletop
was submerged. It was reminiscent of a waterbasin, a shallow one, maybe ten
centimetres deep. We had cards from several years back in this great “box”. In
the room there was also a large shutter cabinet with hanging folders for the reg-
istered documents. Neither the storage of cards nor documents were reproof.
The cards were typed. They were joined together so that there were three cards
in each set with a copy batch and at the back an entire sheet. The top card,
which was white, was sorted by diary plan and the copy, which was blue, was
sorted by sender/initiator in alphabetical order.
The last sheet in each set formed the chronological register of the register.
There was a risk that you sorted a card erroneously and then it was very dicult
to nd it again. On the white card, everything was noted that happened to the
case – referrals, administrators, decisions and closures.
In connection with a reorganization of the municipal administration, I re-
ceived a position as registrar of 50 percent. This was in early 1988. This meant
I had a full-time job at the municipality, which I was so happy about. I ran the
diary in the mornings, and the municipal archive in the afternoons. I learned a
lot from the municipal secretary, a very knowledgeable woman who, in addition
to being an ocial, also worked politically.
In 1989, a working group was set up consisting of the school secretary, the board
secretary and me. We worked out procedures for the board administration and
documented them in a routine manual. It was about mail opening, registration,
referral, delegation, record writing and archiving. It was very fun to work on
developing the routines and to write them down. The municipal council then
adopted our routine manual.
The same working group also worked on the introduction of an ADP-based
registry. ADP – automatic data processing, as it was called that at the time. In
early 1990, the municipal board and a couple of other councils transferred to
Diadem, a computerized registry system. The following year, a few more coun-
cils joined. Despite this, the Building Board and the Environmental Protection
Board never joined Diadem, as these boards chose activity-specic systems in-
stead. Initially, Diadem was run on a computer and every afternoon the registrar
had to take a backup on a oppy disk, which was locked inside the local archive.
After a few years we got PC networks and we did not have to take our own
backups. The program was accessible from several computers in the network.
Seamless good transparency in the registrar’s work
January 1, I left the position of registrar and instead became municipal sec-
retary. I was responsible for the municipal board and its work committee. A
colleague of mine became the municipal secretary. We succeeded the former
municipal secretary and the municipal lawyer. The work as municipal secretary
continued to involve a lot of contacts with the register and I registered during
holidays and other absences. I kept the responsibility for the municipal archive,
and this combination of services was tedious in the long run. But it was fun to
be a municipal secretary, you were so well informed and I learned an incredible
amount about the political game and about the relationship between ocials
After about seven years as municipal secretary, I left that position to investi-
gate and implement a document and case management system. I continued as a
municipal archivist, and this new combination gave room to boost measures on
the archival side. The municipality introduced a document management system
in 2003 and a new case management system in 2005. Managing these projects
has given me continued good insight into the work of the registrar. The intro-
duction was carried out in close cooperation with both board secretaries and
registrars. My role is also to develop and implement good practices in all parts
of the Oce administration together with the Municipal Council’s oce.
Registrars laden with chores
In the role as archivist, it is very helpful to have worked as a registrar. It facili-
tates both the arrangement and listing of diaries and searches of these. A trend
that was common here in the municipality in the late 1990s was to merge the
registrar function with the work of the board secretary. The most common was
that the Registrar also became the board secretary. On the positive side, it meant
development for the registrars, a major disadvantage that the workload often
became unreasonable. Since these people were often “spiders in the web” in
their organization, they would also answer a lot of questions and hold all sorts
and matters, also impossible ones.
Recently, these tasks have started to distinguish, and I think that is good.
It is dicult to control the ow of documents and cases to be registered, and
combining it with summons, minutes and meetings with all its downtimes will be
dicult. In addition, the writing of protocols requires peace and quiet.
When it comes to the registration of documents, a lot of documents are now
entered into the system via scanning and e-mail. The additional work has dis-
appeared because copying has decreased. Now administrators and managers
are notied via e-mail about new cases to handle the respective documents for
information. E-mail has become an important tool that has largely replaced the
handling of delivery bags. A disadvantage of e-mail is the diculty of actually
getting what is to be registered to the diary. One advantage, however, has been
– as I see it – that more civil servants than before now know the legislation on
public access. It has improved in many places but not everywhere.
Another interesting development that I have seen in these 20 years is the amount
of documents registered. When I started, a lot of documents were registered,
there were course invitations, circulars, etc. except of course, the important
documents. Then we learned to store documents of little value systematically,
in order to easily cull them. What was registered was, in principle, what went
to the Board, either for a decision or as a notication. Now this has turned,
by being able to provide the documents electronically in the organization. In
consequence, there is a value in also registering documents of little value. The
thinning is made more dicult, but I do not immerse myself in this.
I’m ending my little story here. The report could be deepened in the case of
types of documents registered, how the systems have changed from electronic
card box to systems that support the entire process and value of the registrar.
But it may be some other time or somewhere else.
Time for the registrar
profession to become its
Ann-Mari Nyberg’s recollections
My name is Ann-Mari Nyberg and I have now worked as a registrar for about
fteen years. I was born in Uppsala in 1970. My mother is from Finland and
was born in 1946 and my father comes from Dalarna and he was born in
1942. Both my parents have academic education, my mother is a primary
school teacher and my father has worked his whole life as a postman until his
I grew up in the Flogsta district of Uppsala. In 1981, the whole family moved
to Uppsala’s Löten district. That’s where I started fth grade at Bellmanskolan.
I went to upper level lower secondary school at Heidenstamsskolan. I have a
little brother who was born in 1974. My family enjoyed travelling and several
years in a row we went to Spain in the 70’s. Bulgaria, Tunisia, England, USA
and car holidays in Europe are other trips we have made. In the summers we
spent a few weeks in our summer house in Dalarna and went to Finland where
my grandmother and my uncles lived.
My teenage years I spent with my girlfriends, we listened a lot to music, the
Tracks billboard list was a given thing every Saturday. When we got a videotape
from someone who had MTV, then the luck was great. We rode, danced jazz
and also did various sports.
As a child, I wanted to be a mountaineer, waitress or ice skating princess. As
a teenager I wanted to be a tour guide or a veterinarian. As things approached
the choice of high school stream, I went to my guidance ocer and told her that
I wanted to become a tour guide. I myself had intended to attend a two-year dis-
tribution and oce training because I have never been so interested in studying.
I wanted to work. The guidance ocer recommended me to attend three years
of nancial training if I wanted to be a tour leader, because that training was
quite comprehensive and you got to study languages, business administration
and marketing which were good to be able to if you wanted to work in the travel
industry. Said and done, I applied and came in as reserve. The languages I chose
were German, French and English. What I regret today is that I did not study
Spanish, which is spoken in so many countries of the world. During my high
school years it was easy to get work so on weekends and holidays I worked extra
as cleaner, dishwasher and Christmas card sorter.
After high school I applied for a tourism education but did not enter. Instead,
I went as an au pair to Miami in the States. The family I lived with was very
strange and my parents had probably read between the lines of the letters I sent
home. One Friday my mother called and told me that I had been admitted as
reserve for tourism education and that I could start there on Monday. So what I
did was I booked a ight ticket to Sweden and Monday I started studying tour-
ism. It was the funniest training I’ve ever had. We were a lovely bunch of about
fteen girls who went to the training. During the training we learned to guide
both in Sweden and in Europe. We went to London, Paris, Oslo and Finland
and the school paid for everything! But during this year I realized that I didn’t
want to work in the travel industry. It was poorly paid and stressful. I love to
travel but I don’t have to work in the industry to do it. I’m the only one in my
class who’s never worked in the industry. The others tried it but then ended up
in other professions. Today there is a girl who works as a ight attendant, the rest
work as, for example, human resources ocer and clerk.
First contact with the registrar profession
In the early 1990s, it was easy to get a job. I worked half-time as restaurant as-
sistant for a while, but wanted to work full time. I mentioned it to some friends
and one day a friend called and said she arranged a job interview with her boss
at Fastighetskontoret (The Municipal Real Estate Oce) in Stockholm. I went
there and got the job as chamber printer!
So, what is now a chamber printer? Well, nothing but a registrar’s assistant.
I had never heard the word registrar, nor chamber printer for that matter. We
were three girls my age who worked as chamber printers and at work there was
also a woman who had the title registrar. During my one and a half years at the
Municipal Real Estate Oce, I never realized what the registrar was doing, only
that she was sitting alone
in her room. The rest of us
shared rooms and we regis-
tered various applications
for new buildings, renova-
tions, apartment buildings
and single-family houses,
housing adaptations, etc.
The registration system was
called Paradox, I remember
it was easy to use. We took
turns opening today’s mail
and poststamping all appli-
cations. We also took turns
registering and then ling
the cases. Everything was
public and sometimes there
was someone from the gen-
eral public who wanted to
look at all the papers about, for example, the property he or she lived in. I had
no inuence on the work and I had no contact with the archival authorities,
maybe that was the registrar’s responsibility? In my department there was also
my manager and some administrators.
What I remember from there was that we chamber printers were the lowest
in rank. Any of us would always be on site and receive visits and answer the
phone. Once in my entire tenure, we managed to go to lunch together all three
of us. The last straw was when the whole department would go abroad on a
planning trip and we were not allowed to go. Then I started thinking about a
new job. At the same time we were told that there would be a reorganization
Ann-Mari’s oce (a section from a larger image).
and that we would change our name to The Stockholm City Planning Oce.
Since I was a substitute, I had to quit.
My rst contact with the registrar’s profession was a coincidence, as a
“The profession requires accuracy,” said the manager
In 1993 I got a youth internship at the County Labour Board in Uppsala County.
I started as a nancial assistant. After a year I got a permanent position as a -
nancial assistant/switchboard operator. A few months later, my superior came
in to me and told me that the girl who worked as a registrar would soon quit.
He was wondering if I was interested. He stressed several times that you have
to be extremely careful and have order around you if you were to be a registrar.
When I told him that I had worked as a registrar’s assistant before, I was to start
as a registrar. Quickly, the former registrar taught me a little and then I would
stand on my own two feet.
The register system was called Diabas, but soon a new system came called
ÄHS (Ärendehanteringssystemet, The Case Management System). I had to
take a two-day course in the new system at Aske kursgård owned by AMS
(Arbetsmarknadsstyrelsen, National Labour Market Board).
The mail opening took place together with a caretaker, mail compartments
and fax machine were in my small room, so it was never alone in the room.
Among other things, I registered AMS remissals, applications, cases involv-
ing procurement, notice, labour market training issues, etc. Together with the
County Labour Board secretary (a man) I made a cheat sheet in what was to be
registered and what should not be registered. At that time, there were about 20
assistants out at the job centres who sometimes registered cases. I administered
the network meetings for the assistants and invited various interesting people to
lecture. All the time I followed in the daily press what was written about regis-
tration and, for example, the principle of public access, and during our meetings
we addressed various topics. We also visited our archive depot in Söderhamn.
When I joined the County Labour Board, we were about forty-ve people
working there. At regular intervals, there were reorganizations. In the last few
years, some 20 people worked on the sta of the County Labour Board. At
Staben, I opened the mail together with the secretary. Since it was a fairly small
authority, where there were between 800 and 1000 cases per year, I have always
had other tasks besides being the main registrar. I have, among other things,
been web editor, human resources administrator, nancial assistant, switch-
board operator, project administrator, secretary and most recently service card
administrator. The latter meant that I had to photograph all the sta, a total of
350, and then order service cards for them and administer everything around it
all. It has been great fun and varied to try out so many dierent tasks.
Since the authority always had a savings plan, I have not been allowed to at-
tend so many courses. There have been courses in publicity and condentiality,
the Administrative Act and English, as well as leisure studies in Spanish. Once
a year I have tried to get away to Annelie Montén’s registrar conferences. It has
been very interesting to meet registrars from dierent authorities and hear news
about the registrar profession.
Archiving on our own
During my years at the County Labour Board I had contact with the Regional
Archives in Uppsala and was there when they had their inspections with us. I
also had a lot of contact with our archive deplace in Söderhamn. That’s where
the newer documents are. I listed our documents and archived and sent them
to the archive depot on a regular basis. I have received the training in archiving,
through the Regional Archives plus I have learned myself. During all these years
at the County Labour Board, we have not had an archivist. Archivists have been
at AMS, but they have not archived anything at the County Labour Board so
we had to do it ourselves.
In October one year came ÄHS-Webb, a web-based registration system. We
were taught the system ourselves, there was no course to go. Since the other
assistants were not so computer-experienced, I made a simple cheat sheet. A
strange thing was that the system came in October and with it a new dossier
plan, where the case number started over on one. Could not one have waited
until January to release the new system?
In the autumn of 2006, we learned that the County Labour Boards would
be abolished. The National Labour Market Board, the County Labour Boards
and the Job Centres were to merge into one new authority, Arbetsförmedlingen
(The Swedish Public Employment Service).
I started thinking about what the future would look like. Would I still have my
job? A registrar is always needed, right? But I didn’t have a registrar’s education.
Did I have any value in the labour market if the worst were to happen? I even
started thinking about whether the registrar was the right profession for me. Was
I a registrar? The answer was yes, I was a registrar and I was proud of that.
Higher education for registrars
In the summer of 2007 I sat and searched the net if there were any registrar
training. I found an education for a certied registrar, and it would cost about
twenty-two thousand Swedish Crowns. Since the authority had no money, I
searched further. Then I ended up at an education called Dokumenthantering
för registratorer (Document management for registrars), held by Mid university
in Härnösand. The application period had already expired, but I called them up
and they said I could make a delayed application. I applied and was admitted.
I got to take the training as a leisure study for my employer. Leisure studies
were available for money. In this way, they could pay for course literature, tui-
tion fees and trains. I also allowed to travel on working hours. Lodging and food
I paid for myself. It was distance education and lasted from September 2007
to June 2008. It was tough to have a full-time job, family, children and other
hobbies – while studying. Several times I on the verge of giving in, but I had
good fellow students and we cheered each other to stay and hand in the exams
on time. I went to Härnösand ve times during the year to go to lectures. The
course parts were:
1. Document and archive management
2. Legislation and management knowledge
3. Information management
4. Document control
5. The professional role
I’d never written a home exam before, so submitting the rst exam was
nerve-racking. My goal with the training was to pass, no more and no less. I was
passed with a plus!
Register system Diariet (The Diary)
In 2007, the Register System Diariet saw the light of day. This time there was a
big push and the registrars at each County Work Board had to attend a two-day
training in the new system. Then we were to go back to our respective authorities
and teach the system to the others. I trained some managers, because everyone
was supposed to have “look-in” privileges in the system. If we had any comments
on the system, we could leave them to the system operators and they would jot
down what we wanted for changes. Some changes were easy to achieve, others
would cost too much money. Diariet was a working Windows based system, the
disadvantage was that there were too many keystrokes here and there. We also
got a new and slimmed down dossier plan, very well, I thought.
In 2008 we became a new authority and with it came a new registration system,
Af-Dia (The Employment Service’s register system). We got a rating plan instead
of a dossier plan, and it was in the process-oriented direction. I was given three
months to le the documents of the old authority. In principle, you had to go
from room to room to include all documents, minutes, etc. from the old author-
ity. Each day documents that administrators had found in their studies came
crashing in on us.
I was still employed as registrar and sat in the old premises of the County
Labour Board, but I had nothing to register. Now I belonged to the Business
Support and Service department, and my boss sat in Söderhamn and was re-
sponsible for some sixty people in Uppsala, Falun and Gävle. I always had a
managing director around and nearby and thought it was impersonal. The last
straw was when I found out we were going to have personal development talks
over the phone. Wouldn’t you get to look your superior in the eye when talking
about your wishes and thoughts? The various trade unions were contacted and
after that the development talks were to take place face-to-face. The new au-
thority had high savings requirements, and the assistants who quit were not
replaced. We had to take turns to go out to the employment services in Gimo,
Heby and Märsta to register all.
My new manager knew that I was training to be a registrar so I got to partici-
pate in a project at Arbetsförmedlingen’s head oce in Stockholm regarding the
registration within the Employment Service. The project was very interesting
and I felt I had something to contribute.
Job search with adequate training
I started looking for new work, and was also at some job interviews. My con-
dence was at its peak. I was just looking for work in Uppsala only. In March I
saw a classied where the Uppsala County Police Department wanted a main
registrar. I applied for the position and got to come to an interview. It was notice-
able that I was at a job interview with the Police, because there were straight ques-
tions that sought straight answers. It didn’t feel like the interview was going so well.
But I got the job! It was really nervous to tell my superior that I wanted a leave
of absence to try other government employment, especially bearing in mind they
had paid for my education as registrar. But my managing director just thought
it was fun, and the future was unsure at Arbetsförmedlingen. I know my educa-
tion was the reason I came up with so many interviews. Not many are trained
registrars. If you compare dierent and various classieds that are looking for
registrars, they can be very dierent. The following two examples are taken from
reality: in one classied, one would be a registrar who took care of mail opening,
registration of simple cases and sorting of documents. In the second, a registrar
who was the system operator for the process-oriented e-archive.
Before I left the Swedish Public Employment Service, I brought the assistants
who registered to the Regional Archives on a study visit. Everyone got an aha
experience as they walked around the archives. Suddenly they understood the
importance of what they were doing, what a trail they set in history. As far as I
know, none of the assistants had chosen to have the task of registering and ar-
chiving. Therefore, perhaps you were not devoted wholeheartedly for your tasks.
Colleagues and managers have also shown little interest in the registration. It
seems to have been a necessary evil.
To me, the thing that attracted the most with the Police authority was the
prospect of being in on the introduction of a new registry system. But I barely
had time to start until I found out that the project had been put on hold due to a
lack of funds. Police registration system A-RAR (general diary) came as a shock
to me. It was manufactured by police ocers in the mid-90’s and DOS-based,
the keys used, for instance, were Scroll Lock, F5-F12, and you backed down by
pressing the * key. To make dierent changes to the system, you have to jump
back and forth and use dierent menus if you wanted to change or search, i.e.
pure stone age. Not at all user-friendly. My highest wish in terms of work is for
the police to have a modern registration system.
A normal day at the Police
As the main registrar at the Police, I coordinate the registration and, among
other things, make a new document management plan. If there’s anyone new,
I teach them the registry system. I also arrange training and network meetings
for the others who register within the authority. A normal day at the Police
Department might look like this:
08:00 Come to work and go through the authority’s e-mail inbox.
08:15–08:30 Coee break
09:00 Going down to the caretakery and sitting at the mail opening, date stamping and sorting
the mail to the dierent departments.
10:00 Commencing to register today’s mail. Printing the forms of handling of the cases that
will have a reply and forwarding them to those who will deal with the cases. Sorting in unreg-
istered cases from the public and the National Police Board in dierent binders. Boxing closed
cases in archive boxes. We sort in by how long they should be saved before they are thinned, it
can be 2, 5, 10 or 30 years. The rest of the documents must be preserved, that is, saved forever.
12:00 Again, looking through the authority’s e-mailbox; mails owing in a steady stream.
There is not much to be registered, because a lot of things are the same questions that come in
every day, such as how to apply for a passport. Record for what is to be registered. An admin-
istrator calls and wants a case. If I have it, I’ll send it down, if it’s in the archive, I’ll contact
them. I scan a case that has come by mail and forward it to the management team.
14:00–14:15 Coee break
14:15–16:00 Looking through the authority’s e-mailbox. A manager comes in and wants a
case registered. I get cases to register through the internal mail. I get a few more calls about e.g.
which case number (event number) to register a case on.
16.30 I nish work
One day is never the same. These are very exciting and interesting cases I get
to register with the Police. The police also have other register systems, such as
weapons case register and trac case register. There is also a secret register.
As far as technical progress in the oce is concerned, a lot has happened since
I started working in an oce in 1991. First of all, not all employees had their
own personal computers. In some rooms there were computer terminals that we
entered data in. We had printers where we printed out long data lists. The rst
register system was DOS-based. In the mid-90’s, the Windows-based registry
system arrived. All employees got their own PCs (personal computers). The fax
was widely used before e-mail arrived. The use of typewriters disappeared in the
mid-90’s. In the 21st century, everything should be web-based. The Internet was
increasingly used as a tool of work. The authorities had websites online and internal
pages (intranet). In the 1990s, some administrators had a mobile phone. The mobile
phone was gigantic and could t in the trunk of the car, and it was very heavy to
drag along. Mobile phone development was moving at breakneck speed, and soon
all managers and administrators had one. Then the tour came to assistants/admin-
istrative sta, caretakers and cleaners. We became more mobile and didn’t have
to sit in our rooms and answer the phone all day. Printers have also become more
advanced. You can now print colour and transparencies, staple in dierent places,
reduce and enlarge, and more. Already when I started at the Employment Service,
there was talk of the future registration system, where all documents were scanned.
No scanner ever came as long as I worked at Arbetsförmedlingen.
The fun of the job
What I like about being a registrar is when you get to be a bit of a detective
and gure out ways to nd a document. It is very rarely an administrator or,
moreover, the public has a registration number so that you can search the case
directly, but often I get to try dierent clues to nd a case. And it’s always as
fun to nd a case that I never thought I’d get out. It’s also fun to have so much
contact with dierent people.
A good registrar
A good registrar, I think should have order around her/him. Having thick skin
and standing one’s ground when it comes to registering at an authority. The
more you know about, for instance, the principle of openness, the administra-
tive law and the authority’s regulations, all the better. One should also have an
interest in archiving, it is so closely related to the registration issue, an interest
in what happens in the “register business” is also good to have. It is also good if
you are fearless of the introduction of new technologies. By continuing your ed-
ucation, you gain better self-condence, knowledge, information exchange and
perhaps a network you can have contact with and exchange experiences with.
When I compare my job at Af and the Police authority – having worked
for two months at the Police Department – I can think that I do not have the
big picture about the organization when I am so new, no corporate history.
Having worked fteen years at Af was good, I had been through reorganiza-
tions, various managers, employees, change of governments and more. This is
useful knowledge when working as a registrar. Having attended a lot of registrar
conferences and also met colleagues in dierent workplaces, I think I can say
that a typical registrar is a woman in upper middle age. My guess is that no more
than ve percent within the profession are male.
Thoughts of the future
I believe that technological development has only beneted the registrar pro-
fession. I look forward to when everything becomes electronic, an e-archive.
Envisage the day you can browse around the virtual archive and retrieve doc-
uments. I believe that IT development will strengthen the registrar’s role in the
organization and society. The tasks will be more interesting. As far as the 24-
hour authority is concerned, it will be really important for the registrar to know
what she/he is doing, for example, that she/he knows the PUL (Personal Data
Act). If you put the register online, it is, among other things, the registrar’s
responsibility to ensure that the system is quality assured and that the laws are
complied with. I think that the direct-addressed e-mail constitutes a problem,
where we have no idea what is coming into the administrator. Is there anything
that needs to be registered or saved in other ways? But the solution is not that
everything should go into an authority mailbox, it’s about the administrators
having to learn what to register.
The status of a registrar depends both on the personality of the registrar and
how the management sees the registrar’s work. For my part, it feels like the status
is “just right”, colleagues have respect for me. They’re a little afraid that they’re
doing wrong, consciously or unconsciously, I can imagine. Sometimes you just
have to stick your head in a colleague’s room and right away you get the ques-
tion: ”What have I done wrong?”
It’s fun when I get to tell others about registration, for example at a manage-
ment meeting. I think it is important that a registrar works closely with the ar-
chivist, it department, managers and information management managers. New
technologies will change the tasks of the registrar. The fact that the registrar
may change its name to document controller, I think will take place to a greater
extent. A document controller controls the entire document ow, checks the
authenticity of a document, and is familiar with various electronic standards. It
is important for the registrar to constantly increase her/his competence in IT
knowledge, processes and to be able to be a project manager for e.g. implemen-
tation project of a new electronic document management system.
The importance of being centrally placed
I think a registrar should be located centrally, close to the management. A sta
is perfect because you have close proximity to lawyers, managers and archivists.
I do not think that a registrar should be placed in, for example, internal service
with caretakery, cleaning and the like. If the register is accessible to everyone,
for example via the Internet, it becomes very visible what the registrar does. It is
good that administrators are increasingly putting their own notes in the register,
but I still think that there should be a certain limitation, ”many cooks spoil the
broth” as they say. The registrar should have full authorization.
At my education I learned that the registrar profession was a “semi-profes-
sion”. Perhaps it is time for the registrar profession to become a profession of
I want to nish by telling you what I’m doing outside of work. I have always
been a “club person”, that is, been on dierent boards and clubs. I think it’s fun
to meet dierent people. I spend time with my family, enjoy travelling, reading
and exercising moderately. At the moment I’m doing Pilates and circular train-
ing. I like to take pictures and do Scrapbooking. As often as I can, I go to the
or iron hand?
Christina Lindström’s recollections
My name is Christina Lindström and I was born in 1948 in Österledinge in
Stockholm County. My father Elis Eriksson was born in 1909 in Roslagen,
Stockholm County. He had an elementary school education and worked during
his life as a sawmill worker, salesman and farmer. My mother’s name was Ingrid
Eriksson and was born in 1916 in Roslagen in Stockholm County. She also had
elementary school education, and worked as housewife, cold ladle, female farm
worker, laboratory assistant and little else.
I grew up in Roslagen in Stockholm County together with four siblings –
three brothers and a sister. I came in fourth in the sibling group. My father was
working as a sawmill worker when I was born but became allergic to sawdust so
he had to rethink and get other employment. Without higher education, it was
not easy to change careers. In the end, my parents decided to rent a farm and
become farmers. My little sister was born just before we moved to Sättraby near
Rimbo and the farmhouse.
It wasn’t an easy existence. On the same plot lived the lady who had previ-
ously run the farm and she was not gracious to be taken with. A family of seven
people is, of course, noticeable, and things happen. I have often thought about
how we managed, because the nancial resources were minimal. But I never felt
I had to forsake anything.
I went to the rst classes of school in the locality. There were several classes in
the same classroom. There was good cohesion at school and I only have positive
memories from there. My youngest brother was very interested in sports and or-
ganized various competitions among the kids in the village. Then I had to help
and I was very proud of that.
When I was in third grade, we moved a few miles, to another farm that my
parents had bought. Then I had to change schools. It was located in Rånäs and
every day I had to walk about three kilometers to get to the school bus, in all
weathers, whether it was sun, rain or snow. It went just ne, because I’ve always
been stubborn. If there’s one thing I’ve decided on, I’ll do it, it was fun to go to
school then, and it also helped for my walk. The road went through the forest,
so I was on several occasions joined by animals of various kinds. From year 7, I
went to Rimbo school.
I was given the privilege of continuing in real school after that, and I write
“the privilege” because it burdened my parents’ nances to let me go there. The
school was in Norrtälje and I was housed with an aunt to my mother. I took the
three-year line, but last year my desire to study slowed down and my hobbies
took over instead. This resulted in me being redemeanoured in the last class. My
best friends did the same so I didn’t suer from it. I had also been allowed to
continue studying and graduating if I wanted to, but then the desire to read was
gone with the wind. Wow, I’ve regretted the bad choice!
My professional dreams have not been too rm, but textile teacher, pharmacist
or forensic technician have at times crossed my mind, but never became a reality.
From perfumes to hospitals
My rst job was in a perfume shop. It was the pharmacist in town who called
and oered the work while me and my best friend worked at a department store
in Uppsala, the summer after the real exam. The perfume shop belonged to
the pharmacy, which was perhaps not so common. I enjoyed selling cosmetics,
perfume and even medical supplies. I learned a lot from the older lady who
The store was closed down after a few years and I then moved to the oce
at the pharmacy. There I worked until I got married and had my rstborn son
in 1969. During my maternity leave in 1970 in the summer, my mother was to
work in the laboratory at Norrtälje Hospital. My father had for a few years fallen
ill with Parkinson’s disease and got worse while my mother was going to work.
In my silliness, I went to the hospital and oered to stand in for my mother, in-
stead. It was just that I had no idea what the work meant. This, of course, came
to light during the interview. Instead, I got a job at the husmorsexpeditionen
(housewife’s oce), and would be allowed to stay there until August 1970. But
there I was left and still is!
I applied for and got a permanent position as a clerk. The work consisted of
all handling of sta, except to pay wages. It was the employment of permanent
and temporary sta, calling in substitutes and helping the clinicians, who were
the closest managers, with all sorts of things.
Twists and turns at Norrtälje Hospital
The work changed in the meantime and even the managers shifted.
Reorganizations were made several times and sometimes the cooperation was
close with the wardens of the wards, the next minute they would take care of
In 1994, Norrtälje Hospital was made independent from the Norrtälje health-
care area and got its own hospital director. When the position was announced,
I applied and got it to my great delight. It was a brand new service, the content
of which was not entirely clear. What was made clear was that the doings of the
registrar would be included in the service. I had no idea what this meant! There
was a registrar in the eld of health care from which I received the very rst ba-
sic information. It was all about a three-copy manual registry! Wow, so hard and
so many forms that were discarded! To get a good subject and understand what
should be registered at all was a whole science. This is how afterwards, when I
looking through the old diary, there is much to be desired of the quality of this.
But luckily there were dierent courses within the county council to apply where
I learned the foundation and deepened my knowledge as a registrar.
The director of the hospital did not place too high a demand on the register,
and I felt that was a problem. One problem in that when I asked to get a digital
diary, I didn’t get any response. Finally, an IT professional locally constructed a
registry in the Access database. This system is still in operation and serves as the
company’s diary. At the county council archive’s inspection, the register was not
approved, but to acquire another diary I still did not get any support for.
On January 1, 2002, Norrtälje Hospital became a limited liability com-
pany, but the only thing that happened with the diary was that a new series
started and with dierent designation of the registration number. Four years
later, on January 1, 2006, the company was transformed into TioHundra AB.
TioHundra AB includes Norrtälje emergency hospital, primary care and care
part in Norrtälje municipality. A completely unique project in Sweden that has
attracted a lot of interest in the country and also within the EU. At the forma-
tion of TioHundra AB, it was decided that the authority responsible for archives
should be changed from Stockholm County Council to Norrtälje Municipality.
This would apply retroactively from 2002. This meant that all documents up to
2002 would be delivered to the County Council Archive. After quite extensive
work, this was done in 2007. What remains are all records up to 2002. It is still
not clear whether they should be allowed to remain or be delivered in.
The old register came with yet again, now with another new name for the
registration number. The demand for the register had not been too great until
the new formation of the company. Then it became more in demand, since
those who had previously worked in Norrtälje municipality were more used to
reporting to the registrar.
Since Norrtälje Hospital was incorporated, my role has been MD Secretary
and Registrar. This has been of great benet, as all acts of importance have
come to my knowledge. The proximity to the MD and company management
has also facilitated my work. In February this year, a drastic change was made.
I was asked, without warning, to move on to the full-time registrar’s job and
release the MD secretarial section. After 14 years of playing the part, it was
dicult to concentrate on just one thing. In addition, I was transferred to the
human resources department and was completely separated from the compa-
Finally a new registration system!
Today I work as full-time registrar. In addition, I continue to handle all cor-
respondence with the company’s board of directors, something I also did be-
fore. I also continue as contact person to Bolagsverket (Swedish Companies
Registration Oce) and report all changes and annual reports. Another assign-
ment that remains on me is to be secretary of the central collaboration group. I
collect cases, send out summons, sit as secretary, write minutes and publish them
on the intranet.
Thanks to my new role, more demands have been placed on the register, and
now a new registration system is in the works. Finally – after 14 years of nag-
ging! The IT department together with a consultant, and with me as an expert,
construct a diary in Share Point, the same system in which our intranet is built.
All documents must be scanned and cases sent by e-mail. I am appointed project
manager for the introduction of the new system and for all sta to receive the
necessary training. My positive goal is an introduction by the end of 2008/09.
Incidentally, in my professional role it can be a detective job sometimes, to
nd out dierent decisions and cases that exist within the municipality and
county councils and also other authorities.
Cotton or iron?
My view of the registrar role has been keeping up since 1994. It didn’t feel se-
rious to become a registrar without having any cognizance and knowledge of
It is a professional role that is very much characterized by the person holding
the post. There are eective registrars that are rock hard and follow their admin-
istrators with an iron st, and milder types that go more smoothly. I belong to
the latter kind and it’s for good and bad. Administrators (I don’t like the word)
who have dierent cases must have in the registrar a person who helps and backs
up. Not one who stands with her/his forenger and roars that the end date of
the case has expired.
Since 2003 I am a certied registrar.
In the future
The future of the registrar, I don’t think, changes that much. Keeping track
of all documents in administrations and companies will always be needed.
Accessibility and organizational form may shift, but laws and regulations remain.
I intend to develop my own role. I want to be a more advisory and knowl-
edgeable central person who has support registrars out there in the business
function that ensures that the ongoing registration work is done.
Another thing I think is essential for the continued professional role is to nd
another name for the professional role of the “registrar”. Unfortunately, I don’t
have my own name proposal yet.
I have been married to Lasse since six years. I have my three sons from a pre-
vious marriage. In addition, I have three grandchildren and a fourth in March
of 2009. Our great common interest is travel. Every year we go for a trip to
Crete where we have made many good friends. We have just come home from
our fth USA trip where we also got many nice acquaintances. Anyone who
travels always has something to tell you! I have taken note of this and write in
addition to diary also journey stories every time we are on the move.
Walking in the forest gives a great feeling, and if I also nd mushrooms and
berries, it is a plus.
I normally commute four hours every day to work. But in the summer I live
out at our country house, and then have the privilege of having only half an
hour’s drive to work. This means that every morning I get up at ve o’clock and
have time to jog or go for a quick walk of forty-ve minutes on a nice forest road
with only bird chirps and occasional deer or hares. It’s for me quality of life!