Schedules for Retention and Disposition
Records retention and disposition schedules are the basic component of the records management system. The schedules control the records throughout their life cycle. Records schedules identify particular records series and prescribe how long they must be retained before they meet their ultimate disposition (either destruction or Transfer to the University Archives). The two main objectives of records schedules are promptly disposing of records whose retention period has ended and preserving records that have long-term value.
While an efficient filing system is an essential element for effective and economical management of active records, equally important is an effective and efficient records scheduling program. Using and following records schedules allows an office to:
- save time by reducing the volume of records that must be searched for information.
- avoid legal problems associated with record keeping requirements.
- promote efficiency by focusing efforts on those records that are most important.
- save space by removing from the office records that are no longer in current use.
- identify permanently valuable records.
The result, then, is better records, fewer records, and a more efficiently running office.
Types of Records Schedules
There are two basic types of schedules. General records schedules apply to common categories or types of records that exist throughout the University. Information about the majority of records generated by a typical office are found in the general schedules. Special records schedules apply to records series that are unique to a department or office. Special schedules are developed by the Archives working with the creating office. If your office has records that do not fit any of the general records schedules, please contact the Archives for information about how to schedule your records (x8318 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
General Retention and Disposition Schedules
Until more specific schedules are developed, please use the following guidelines when identifying records to preserve. These guidelines are suggestions only. Please contact the Archives before disposing of any records.
Core Records Series--Permanent Retention
Core records series are the minimum documentation that should be preserved in order to document broadly the institution and its activities.
All departments may create records of these types. The office that produces these records normally keeps a copy in its files. This is known as the "record copy." The record copy of the following materials should be permanently retained and transferred to the archives when they are no longer current.
- Annual reports of your department or unit
- Departmental organizational charts
- Policy and procedure manuals for your department or unit
- Departmental or unit committee minutes
- Departmental publications
Some departments may create records of the types listed below. If your department holds the record copy of these documents, you should retain them and transfer them to the Archives when they are no longer current.
Project & program records
Records related to projects or programs sponsored by your department are often permanently valuable. These records are usually kept in alphabetically arranged "subject files." Since each office keeps records of programs or projects in which it is involved, the sponsoring office holds the record copy and should send these records to the Archives when they are no longer current.
Official sudent records are generally held by the Registrar, student records held by administrative or academic departments are usually not permanently retained.
Official personnel records are usually held by Human Resources. Personnel files held by departments or divisions are generally not retained.
Except for financial offices directly related to budget and finance, offices generally do not hold record copies of financial records.
Permanent records have either artifactual or informational value which makes it necessary or desirable to keep them forever.
Artifactual value refers to a document's physical properties. A unique format such as wax cylinder recordings, photographic scrapbooks, and rare books are examples of permanent records where the information contained within the document is as important as its physical properties.
Informational value refers to the information contained in a document. This may mean that preservation of the original format (such as newspaper) is not as important as permanently retaining the information in a stable, usable, and easily accessible one (such as microfilm).
Types of permanent records may include:
- Letters of incorporation
- Annual reports
- Final copy of reports or studies
- Photographs, films, and tapes
- Policy statements
- Architectural drawings
- Procedure manuals
- Materials from special University events or celebrations
- Official publications
- Board meeting minutes
- Vital records