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FLC Records Management Manual
FLC Archives, Records Management and You!: a 1 page pdf overview
Is It a Record?: a 1 page flowchart to aid you in determining if your records are worth retaining
A Survivor's Guide to Records Management at FLC!: a 6 page pdf with the basics, forms, and contact info you need for effective records management
Role of CSWS
DEFINITIONS OF RECORDS MANAGEMENT TERMS
ACTIVE FILES MANAGEMENT
What are active files?
Active files management procedures
College records vs. personal papers
Suggestions for managing personal records at FLC
Guidelines for weeding College records - What to send to the Archives
Why it's in my best interest to transfer inactive records to the Archives
Guidelines for transferring records to the Archives
Disaster preparedness, response, & recovery
General disposal schedule
Special schedules (by department)
FORMS & RESOURCES
Records management manual sources & references
OVERVIEW back to top
Purpose of Records Management back to top
Effective management of the records that the Fort Lewis College community generates, processes and receives is an essential step toward fulfilling the College's mission. An effective records management program assures economy and efficiency in the creation, organization, maintenance, use and retrieval of administrative records; assures the protection of records that are vital to the College; and ensures the preservation of historically important records. Such a program requires the cooperation of all concerned including faculty, staff and students.
Role of the Center back to top
1. The Center's records management mission. The Center of Southwest Studies ensures ready access to essential evidence pertaining to the College.
2. The Center's records management function. The Center of Southwest Studies is the hub for effective management of institutional records generated, processed or received by the faculty, staff and students. The archives staff of the Center is trained and experienced in information management. By assisting administrative, academic and student offices with records management we can relieve you of the cost and inefficiencies of retaining in your office non-current records. Furthermore, some of these records possess historical value that warrants their long-term preservation for access at the Center of Southwest Studies. The Center's archival staff provides reference assistance and requires users to comply with reference rules designed to protect records for future use.
3. The Center's vision for Fort Lewis College records management. The College Archives is not a dusty hoard of unnecessary data. It is a corporate trust on which our Fort Lewis College educational system depends. It enables people to inspect records of College activity. It enables administrators, faculty, staff, students and members of all departments to review their actions and helps to keep them accountable for their actions at Fort Lewis. It ensures continuing access to essential evidence that documents the rights, actions, and experiences of members of the College community. To be effective, we at the Center of Southwest Studies must do the following:
a. determine what evidence is essential for such documentation (through the creation of records disposal schedules);
b. ensure that the College creates such evidence (through records scheduling work directly with each office);
c. make it easy for users to access that evidence, regardless of where it is, where they are, and for as long as needed;
d. find techniques, technologies, and partners that can help us to improve service and hold down cost; and
e. assist Center and College records management staff in continuously expanding our capability to make the changes necessary to realize this vision.
Authorization back to top
The Fort Lewis College Records Management Program has been authorized by the College administration. This authorization is amplified by the Fort Lewis College Archives Policy. The College Archives Policy states that the Archives Manager, together with the Director, the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Vice President for Business and Finance and the College deans and department heads, shall develop guidelines and procedures for the management of the current records of the College. They shall determine retention and disposal schedules for all types of records and shall see to it that such schedules are observed by all offices and departments of the College. The Archives Manager is responsible for assisting with College records management functions through the creation and implementation of records schedules and the transfer of historically significant College records to the College Archives. The Assistant Librarian/Archivist is charged with the day-to-day implementation and management of these tasks.
Collection Policy back to top
The Center's Collections Management Policy notes that Fort Lewis College specializes in teaching and learning in a liberal arts setting, and that the Center of Southwest Studies documents the history of this basic function as well as to support the Southwest curriculum of the College. Thus, the College Archives' records shall include all historically significant and permanently valuable records received or created by college officials, staff, faculty and students in the course of their Fort Lewis College duties, regardless of the physical form of the records, whether on paper, film, magnetic tape or other material, including machine readable records as well as other types.
Access Policy back to top
The College Archives holdings are available to Fort Lewis College students, faculty, staff, and the public for research under the following conditions:
1. Researchers must use the records at the Center of Southwest Studies, observing all instructions for the use of special collections. In extraordinary circumstances and with the special permission of the Archives Manager, Fort Lewis College departments may borrow materials for use outside CSWS; the borrower must provide for the security of the materials against loss, damage, or disorganization while they are out of the Archives, and is required to use the materials with the same care and consideration that is practiced at the Center.
2. Access to records restricted by law will be limited to individuals authorized by statute, or by the depositing department, or by court order. Both federal and state statutes affect the public's access to Fort Lewis College records. A record which contains potentially confidential data is to be treated as if it does contain confidential data.
3. Users must honor any restrictions placed by donors of private materials and restrictions specified by the Center's General Restriction Policy Statement.
Destruction Policy back to top
1. Timely disposal of records. In cooperation with the State Archivist, employees of the State of Colorado are legally obligated to promptly dispose of state records that have little or no value (Colorado Revised Statutes 24-80-103). Lawful authorization for disposal of public records is obtained through following the Higher Education Records Schedule 8 of the Colorado State Archives Records Management Manual, which the Center follows for its disposition of records. Unless there are compelling reasons for doing so (for example, due to pending litigation relating to the records), retaining records longer than the disposal schedule authorizes causes unnecessary legal and financial liabilities and is strictly forbidden.
2. Unauthorized destruction. Likewise, unauthorized destruction of public records is considered tampering, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor (Colorado Revised Statutes 18-8-114).
3. Destruction of confidential records. Records series that contain data that is confidential by law or which contain information that is exempt from public disclosure by law are to be destroyed by shredding, pulping, incineration, or by direct transfer into an authorized landfill under the direct supervision of the Southwest Center's archival staff. These methods of destruction are prescribed so that confidential records may not be viewed or used by unauthorized persons after they are removed from the office of origin. (Records that contain no confidential data may be recycled or removed as trash.) A significant quantity of records created and received by the College contain confidential data elements such as social security numbers, home addresses, and other personal privacy data. Therefore, such records must receive special care in their removal from the office and in their disposition. While use of an office shredder may appear to be a good solution to the problem of destroying small quantities of confidential paper records, the Center discourages the purchase of mechanical shredders because they are expensive and labor-intensive.
4. Effect of possible or pending investigations or legal actions. Fort Lewis College records users/maintainers are to notify the Center of Southwest Studies archival staff immediately of any possible or pending investigations or legal actions involving the College. This includes any investigations or legal actions in which Fort Lewis College is only a third party. Upon notification, Archives staff must immediately suspend the destruction of any records that may be considered useful to investigative or court proceedings.
5. Disposing of non-record materials. The following types of materials are considered non-records and may be purged from files without further authorization from the Center. These non-record materials should be removed from departmental files as soon as they are no longer needed for reference, and can be recycled or disposed of as trash.
a. Extra copies. Convenience copies, created and preserved only for ease of reference.
b. Duplicated records. Records that have been duplicated in another format, assuming that the duplicate's accuracy has been verified and that it is retained as the record copy. An example is paper records that have been microfilmed.
c. Excess stock. Unneeded extra copies of forms and publications.
d. Library materials. Books, pamphlets, circulars, newsletters, brochures, catalogs, advertisements, and similar published materials, which were acquired and retained solely for reference or exhibition purposes and are not record copies of institutional publications.
DEFINITIONS OF RECORDS MANAGEMENT TERMS back to top
Access. Availability of records, or permission to use them.
Accession. The formal acceptance of records into physical and legal custody as an addition to the Archives' holdings.
Accession number. A unique number assigned sequentially to an accession for purposes of identification and control within the Archives. The Center of Southwest Studies' accession numbers are in the format YYYY:xxx, with YYYY being the year in which the accession was received by the Center and xxx being a sequentially assigned number.
Acid-free. The chemical characteristic of having a pH of 7.0 or greater. The Center uses acid-free boxes, folders, and paper to preserve permanent records.
Active records. Records that are referenced regularly - or which are required for current use - by the creating or maintaining administrative unit for the conduct of regular business.
Appraisal. The process of determining the value and thus the disposition of records based on their administrative, fiscal, and/or legal use; their evidential and informational value; their arrangement and condition; their intrinsic value; and their relationship to other records.
Archives. 1) The records of continuing value of an organization; specifically, noncurrent records that have been transferred to a place of long-term storage because of their continuing or enduring value. 2) The building or area in which the permanent records are kept. 3) The agency, organization or program responsible for selection, care and use of archival records.
Arrangement. The scheme by which groups of records are ordered to reveal their content and significance, to achieve physical control over the repository's archival holdings. Levels of archival arrangement include record group, subgroup, series, file unit, and item.
Audit copy. A copy of a document or file made specifically for use by auditors. Usually it is not considered the record copy.
Convenience copy. A copy made for ease of access and reference. It is never considered the record copy, but it may be an audit copy.
Correspondence. Any form of written communication sent or received in the course of business, such as e-mail, faxes, letters, memoranda, notes, or postcards.
Destruction date. The date which marks the end of the legally required retention period for temporary records; it is the date when records should be destroyed unless they are relevant to or involved with litigation, government investigation or audit, or continuing administrative action.
Destruction suspension. A term used in record retention scheduling programs to indicate the process or procedure implemented to stop the destruction of records when it has been determined that litigation, government investigation, audit, or continuing administrative action is pending or imminent.
Disaster plan. The written policies and procedures that are in place to prevent, minimize, and/or recover from damage to records.
Disposal schedule. Documented official authorization for the periodic disposal of described records series on a continuing basis. Also known as records disposition schedule or retention schedule.
Disposition. The physical actions taken regarding records that are no longer needed to support on-going administrative functions, in accordance with the institution's records disposal schedules. Possible actions include permanent retention in the administrative unit, transfer to the Archives, transfer to inactive records storage space, and destruction by such methods as dumping, recycling or shredding.
Evidence. Records, in whatever format, that have been identified and authenticated as accurate documentation of rights, actions, and experiences, especially for use in court or in regulatory proceedings.
File breaking. Ending files at regular intervals - usually at the end of a year or other duration - to permit their destruction, transfer to Archives, or transfer to inactive storage areas in complete blocks. Routine breaking of files allows an office to maintain records series sequences within existing file space.
File integrity. The principle of maintaining completeness, original file order and unbroken custody of the records in a filing system, to maintain records' legal and intellectual integrity.
Fiscal year. An accounting period of twelve months. Retention periods are for fiscal years (July 1 - June 30), unless stated otherwise.
Inactive records. Records still retaineded by an organization, but not for current operations.
Legal requirements. The obligation under a law to act or not act in a specified manner.
Linear feet. A volume measurement for records. One linear foot is one foot wide, and generally is one foot high and one foot deep. A records storage box occupies one linear foot, and can hold fifteen linear inches of letter-size files.
Minimum-maximum rule. Maximum retention periods state the longest a record series may be kept; minimum retention periods, on the other hand, state that the least number of years a record series must be kept. However, records may be kept for a period longer than the maximum stated period if they are involved in litigation, criminal or civil investigation, audit, or continuing administrative use. Under no circumstances may a record be kept for a shorter time period than the schedule requires.
Office of origin. The administrative unit within which records are created or received and accumulated in the course of the principal use of those records.
Office of record. The administrative unit that is responsible for maintaining the official records (see record copy) for the period of retention prior to destruction or transfer to the archives or records center. This unit often is the office of origin - but not necessarily.
Permanent records. Records that have been deemed to have such administrative, financial, legal or historical value that they (or the information in them) should be maintained indefinitely or for at least seventy years.
Personal records. Records belonging to an individual that have no content relevant to the organization or were not produced using resources of the organization.
Record. A document, of whatever physical form and characteristics, created or received and accumulated by an administrative unit in the conduct of official business. (Note: the definition of a record applies to all formats, including web pages and other electronic files.)
Record copy. The instance of a document, in whatever medium, that is considered the master copy of that document. It is the most complete or official copy of that record. Usually it is the original copy.
Record group. A body of related records that are organizationally grouped together due to their common unit of origin as a discrete component of the institution. For example, the Center groups all of the President's Office's records into Record Group (RG) 4; Fort Lewis College athletics records are in RG 9; School of Arts and Sciences records are in RG 15; all Business and Financial Affairs records are in RG 20.
Record series. Records kept in a unified filing system because they are related in function, or have common characteristics or a particular form, or result from the same accumulation or filing process, the same function, or similar activities.
Recordkeeping requirements. The obligations of law related to the creation, maintenance and disposition of records.
Records destruction. The process of totally obliterating information on records by such method(s) as makes the information unreadable or unusable under any circumstance.
Records disposition schedule. See disposal schedule.
Records management. A program of systematic control to facilitate economy and efficiency in the creation, organization, maintenance, use and disposition of records, which insures that useful records will be preserved as long as needed and that unneeded records will not be created or preserved beyond their usefulness.
Records manager. An individual, knowledgeable in records management, designated by an organization to control the records management program.
Records retention period. The span of time during which records must be maintained by an organization because they are needed for administrative, financial, legal or historical or other purposes of the organization. Generally, records should be destroyed after the termination of the retention period.
Retention schedule. See disposal schedule.
Until obsolete. A retention period assigned to records that become valueless on a non-routine basis.
Until superseded. A retention period assigned to records that are routinely updated or revised, and where the previous version has no enduring value to justify its further retention.
Vital records. Records containing data essential to re-establish or continue an organization following a disaster. Such records can reconstitute the institution's legal and financial status and determine the rights and obligations of employees, customers, and citizens.
Weeding. The selection and removal of individual records or files from a record series because they lack continuing administrative, financial, legal or historical value. Also known as purging.
ACTIVE FILES MANAGEMENT back to top
What are Active Files? back to top
Active files are those records kept on hand in the office for regular use in conducting business. They are arranged according to the needs and convenience of those who use them. Some practices, however, should be followed by all persons who are responsible for official College records.
Active Files Management Procedures back to top
Don't get frustrated! The below listed procedures will explain many of your questions.
1. Utilize as much as possible of the ten main categories of College records for which the State Archives has established official retention periods. These are described in the Higher Education Records Schedule 8 of the Colorado State Archives Records Management Manual. The categories are well-tried and reasonable; many are now used by offices on campus.
2. To facilitate use of the records categories, it is recommended that offices annualize all files. That is, label each file with the year (or months) of the materials it contains. This may entail file breaking. This will ease immediate access while the file is active and will assist with efficient sorting for storage or disposal later.
3. Consider the principle that it is almost always better to have more files than fewer. Access improves when we have many thin files with specific contents rather than a few huge files with broader general contents.
4. Avoid duplication of records; avoid the retention of drafts and multiple copies of notes.
5. Distinguish between substantive records (including general correspondence, reports and memoranda) and routine documents (ones whose usefulness ends after they serve their immediate purpose). For example, a letter describing a College policy is substantive, but one requesting a copy of a brochure is routine. Clarity in this distinction will facilitate disposal of routine material when it is no longer needed.
6. Subject filing usually is the best means of organizing the complex types of records found in campus offices. It is a means of grouping records within broad organizational units that we call records series. Examples of series are office administrative files, College-wide publicity materials, and professional association records. Each series has common characteristics; the folders within each series generally share a single filing scheme (usually alphabetical, occasionally chronological).
7. Compile a guide or inventory of all files and records retained in every office. This need be no more detailed than a list of folder titles, but it should reflect the location, content and arrangement of all official records. The inventory should be revised at least annually so it will be current and accurate.
8. Identify vital records. These are irreplaceable materials that would be necessary to start the operation again after a destructive disaster. Examples of vital records include organizational charters, confidential personnel records, charts and drawings, and notes of research in progress. They may be on electronic form, not on paper. Give particular attention to documents that exist in only one copy. Note vital records in your annual inventory.
9. Review the physical conditions in which records are stored. Consider their safety from natural and environmental harm (such as undue exposure to light or heat, or the presence of food and drink which attract insects) as well as their security from unauthorized human access.
10. Designate a records officer who is responsible for the implementation of State and College records policies and for coordination with the College Archives.
11. Consider archival storage (i.e., at the Center) of lesser-used or inactive records before purchasing any new records storage equipment.
College Records vs. Personal Papers back to top
1. Definition of College records. Fort Lewis College records include all documentary materials, regardless of physical form, that are:
a. made or received by a College employee in connection with the transaction of College business, and that
b. are preserved (or are appropriate for preservation) as evidence of College activities because of the value of the information they contain; and
c. all architectural drawings, case files, computer tapes and discs, correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, photographic images, tape recordings and other materials in your custody must be measured against the above two-element definition to determine whether or not they qualify as College records. The essential qualifying characteristics relate to the evidence and information the records contain, not their physical form or format.
d. Most documentary materials of an official nature in a College office meet the definition of College records.
2. Definition of personal papers. Some documentary materials accumulated by College employees do not qualify as College records. These materials may be considered personal papers (and private property) if they relate to an individual's personal affairs and do not affect the conduct of College business.
a. Personal papers are excluded from the definition of College records and are not owned by the College. Examples include 1) papers accumulated by an employee before joining Fort Lewis College, 2) an instructor's course materials, such as lecture notes, 3) materials relating solely to an individual's private affairs, such as outside business or professional pursuits, professional affiliations, or private political associations, or 4) diaries, journals, personal correspondence, or other personal notes that are not prepared or received in the process of transacting College business.
b. If employees wish to maintain personal files in their offices, such files should be separated from College records. When both private matters and College business appear in the same document, you should extract or copy the part relating to College business and treat the extraction or copy as a College record.
c. Materials labeled "personal", "confidential", "private" or similarly designated which are used in the transaction of College business are College records. The use of a label such as "personal" is not sufficient to determine the status of documentary materials in a College office.
d. The College encourages professional employees to consult with the Archives Manager about donating their personal papers to the Fort Lewis College Archives. In this way, the preservation of a complete and useful record of individual activity and accomplishment is assured.
Suggestions for Managing Personal Records at FLC back to top
Guiding principle: Have a discrete designated file folder location for each type of record you handle. You'll spend less time hunting for those papers if you process them efficiently the first time you hold them. That is, rather than looking at a paper and adding it to a pile on your desk, you take one of the following actions:
a. recycle it!
b. pass it on to someone else who can use it
c. act on it and place the record in the appropriate file in your office
d. place it in a tickler file for future action
These are some folder titles you are apt to need at Fort Lewis College:
a. payroll benefits information including printed materials regarding medical, dental, flex spending, and leave policies and procedures affecting you. Your actual records for each of these benefits will be in their own separate folders.
b. monthly payroll confirmation statements.
c. flexible spending account records - copies of your receipts, reimbursement request form, and check receipt.
d. flexible spending account pending reimbursement records - originals and copies of your receipts, reimbursement request form to submit each month. Suggestion: make photocopies of a partially completed master rather than completing the top of a new reimbursement request form each month.
e. medical records - copies of your medical bills and receipts, subscriber submitted claim forms, and reimbursement check receipts.
f. pending medical claim records including originals and copies of your medical bills and receipts, subscriber submitted claim forms (photocopying from a partially completed master for each covered individual).
g. Fort Lewis College Diner's Club card records - receipts and statements.
h. Fort Lewis College Purchasing and Facilities Planning etc. forms and guidelines including blank forms for travel authorization, travel expense reconciliation, requisition, request for payment, contract authorization request, request for submission of contract or grant approval of request, project data sheet, Fort Lewis College Development Office monetary transmittal sheet, justification for brand names or sole source purchases, request for curriculum change, work order, and library book order cards. Also, Fort Lewis College Purchasing guides to purchasing policies and procedures, use of Diners Club cards, and car rentals.
i. reimbursement requests including a copy of each Fort Lewis College travel expense reconciliation form submitted, memos, receipts, and your Fort Lewis College vendor payment check receipt.
j. committee records - a folder for each committee on which you serve; if it's voluminous, organize the different types of records into separate folders - a folder for agenda and minutes, a folder for each special project, etc. If you are the committee chair, these records will eventually go to the College archives.
k. faculty assembly or employee council meetings agenda, minutes, printed materials.
l. instructions for use of email, snail mail, voice mail and phone.
m. frequently needed phone numbers and addresses.
n. work study employee records - contracts, correspondence with students, records of hours worked, and time sheets.
o. your resume and/or vita.
p. daily activity sheets - your daily record of hours worked and accomplishments; useful for producing regular reports.
q. (FACULTY) personnel action file (constantly add records to this file documenting your performance).
r. (EXEMPT STAFF) annual leave records - vacation schedules, leave reporting forms to submit to Human Resources at the end of each month, and your tally sheet of hours earned and hours used - to compare with the figure on your pay stub.
s. (FACULTY) course evaluations, filed by course number, then by year.
t. ideas and suggestions - things you want to consider implementing later.
3. With some exceptions, the personal records described above will not go to the College Archives. Their management is your personal responsibility. Exceptions include committee records kept by the chair of that committee, as noted earlier.
Guidelines for Weeding College Records back to top
When preparing records for transfer to the Archives, please discard the following categories of materials.
This will save storage space and will lead to faster and more efficient retrieval of Archives records. Some records schedules include a note that "extensive weeding" of a group of records is expected before transfer to the Archives. Offices should remove duplicates of documents and should transfer to the Archives only those records that are record copies. Please use the Is It a Record? flowchart to determine if your documents are records worth retaining. When in doubt, leave materials in the files. Archives staff will evaluate their value when those records are processed.
Many of these record types are also on the General Disposal Schedule. That schedule provides guidance in retaining routine or housekeeping records in your office. These records, like the ones listed below, will not be transferred to the Archives unless your office is the "office of record" (in other words, the originating office).
Drafts. Send the Archives only the final version of a document. Transfer drafts only when significant comments or annotations appear.
Routine correspondence. Discard: letters of transmittal, cover letters that merely forward an enclosure and add nothing to the content of the item transmitted; meeting announcements; address changes; invitations; acknowledgements; reservation; confirmations; travel itineraries; and routine requests for general information such as brochures and catalogs.
Memoranda. Only send the Archives those memoranda sent by your department, and discard memos that concern routine matters such as holidays, vacation schedules, etc. Send the Archives your office's memoranda that concern policies, procedures and capital investments/collections.
Routine department budget files. The Budget Office sends the Archives detailed and summary financial records.
Faxes. Discard thermal copies - they will be virtually unreadable in a few months. Photocopy all significant communications your office received on thermal fax paper onto regular bond paper.
Miscellaneous. Discard multiple copies of documents or photographs; supply and vendor catalogs; envelopes (unless annotated); blank forms; advertisements and promotional materials except those originating from your department; and obsolete equipment manuals and warranties.
Types of records to send to the Archives for permanent retention:
Send us the records that show what your department, committees, etc. have been doing. We especially want to preserve administrative policy documents and publications including handbooks, newsletters, course syllabi and other printed materials that will document the foundation and existence of Fort Lewis College programs and the life of this campus. If your office is the one that is creating or managing a record for the College, your office is the office of record, and yours is the responsibility to send these materials to the Archives at the Center of Southwest Studies when you no longer have active need for them.
Why it's in my Best Interest to Transfer Inactive Records to the Archives back to top
Inactive records that have continuing or enduring value should be sent to the College Archives for the following reasons:
1. The Archives can provide reference service and access to records. Most permanent Fort Lewis College records are open to public inspection. If you were to maintain those records in your office, you would be required to make them available to those who request access.
2. Inactive permanent records can be moved from expensive office space to less-expensive storage provided by the Archives. The estimated annual cost of maintaining a 5-drawer filing cabinet in an office is $2,099--for one year!
3. The Archives provides an environmentally stable and secure storage and reference area, uses archival supplies to house materials, and monitors reference use of materials so they may be preserved for use of future generations.
Guidelines for Transferring Records to the Archives back to top
Please follow these step by step procedures for sending your office's records to Fort Lewis College Archives. Typically, records are transferred at the end of a fiscal or calendar year, as stipulated in your departmental records schedules.
1. Review your records for items that may be discarded based upon the General Disposal Schedule and Guidelines for Weeding College Records. A quick one-page flowchart is also available for determining if Is It a Record?
2. Order a supply of recycled records boxes from the Assistant Librarian/Archivist. Each box will hold approximately two feet of office files, or about one file cabinet drawer of files. Do not overfill the boxes. Return unused boxes to the Center at the time of transfer.
3. Transfer records from hanging files to manila folders, and retain the folder titles.
4. Keep files in their original order as arranged in your file drawers.
5. Provide a list of contents of each box on a folder-by-folder basis. Place a paper copy inside the box. Do not tape, glue or staple the sheet to the box.
6. Complete a Records Box Label for each box and attach it to one end of each box. Do not directly mark the record storage boxes in any way. The bottom line is that we need the:
• Title of the group of records
• Earliest and latest years in which these records were produced
• Name of your office
7. When your office's records are ready for transfer, please notify Physical Plant Services to schedule delivery of your boxes. Email a digital copy of the folder-by-folder contents list(s) (see step 5) to the Assistant Librarian/Archivist and the Archives Manager.
Electronic Records back to top
(Source: OSU Records Management Manual) Electronic records are informational files ("data files") that are stored in digitized form through the use of computers and applications software. These records are in machine dependent formats - they are accessible only through the use of digital processors.
1. Materials excluded from this discussion include:
a. audio and video tapes,
b. software used in the record creation or record keeping process,
c. computer programs (unless customized) are not considered electronic records
d. computer software, like the computer hardware necessary to run the software, is considered an office supply or item of equipment, not an electronic record in and of itself.
2. Categories of electronic record formats include:
a. text. (mostly, drafts and copies of correspondence, memoranda, reports, and publications distributed in hard copy form); in addition to word processing and desktop publishing software, many other types of software (such as spreadsheets and database management programs) can be used to create text documents.
b. databases. data organized and stored so that the elements can be manipulated and extracted to serve diverse applications (though not dependent on those other applications). Typically, databases contain large quantities of data, organized into data fields which may contain text, numbers, graphics, or mixed character elements. Reports based on database data may be printed, but databases remain in electronic form - they are rarely printed out in their entirety.
c. electronic mail. memos, letters, notes, reports or other communications between individuals and groups that is stored and/or transmitted in a format that requires an electronic device to capture and access it. Most e-mail messages that are considered important, such as directives that perform a policy or procedural function, should be printed on paper and filed in the office files.
d. voice mail messages recorded on the Fort Lewis College computerized telephone message system, allowing the recipient to hear and respond to phone messages at a later time.
e. public information servers. computer data servers that provide worldwide access to electronic files at any time to anyone who has compatible systems and necessary connections. These servers are tools for distributing data electronically and are actually a form of electronic publishing - the files are considered publications. The College's World Wide Web site is such a server.
f. graphics. visual images stored in digital format for electronic manipulation and storage; the creation of this type of electronic record is assisted by commercial packages of graphic applications, by digitizing scanners, and by video conversion hardware.
3. Guidelines for electronic records retention:
a. text and database files. Electronic records intended to be documents are developed generally through a word processing or database application. If your office prints out documents produced and retains them in hard copy, the electronic version may be deleted immediately. If the record copy of a document is retained only in electronic form, it should be kept for the time period specified in the Fort Lewis College records retention schedule. If a text record must be retained for a period of more than 12 months, then it should be printed out and stored as part of the regular paper office records. This requirement is due to the inherent instability of the magnetic media and accessibility considerations that are unique to electronic records. Records that will go ultimately to the Fort Lewis College Archives must be printed out on good quality white paper. The Archives cannot accession or provide reference to records in electronic format.
However, records of financial transactions that are created and/or maintained in electronic form should be retained in that form until they are released from audit. Such records include journals, balance sheets, and ledgers. Even if fiscal documents in electronic form are printed out or converted to microfilm, they must be available for audits in their electronic form. Paper storage is not necessary so long as a document is available online, but a paper copy is required once a document is no longer available electronically if the disposal schedule requires further retention. For instance, pre-BANNER data (pre-1991 for financial, pre-1992 for other data) must be kept in hard copy.
b. electronic mail. Whoever transmits an e-mail communication is responsible for retention of that message in accordance with the Fort Lewis College retention guidelines for that type of record. E-mail messages received by an individual or office may be deleted when the messages no longer have administrative value. Again, if an e-mail message falls into a category that requires retention for more than 12 months, it should be printed out on good quality white paper and stored as part of the regular paper office files. The Archives cannot accession or provide reference to records in electronic format.
c. voice mail. Substantive messages should be retained for the automatic storage period of 30 days, then allowed to be automatically deleted from the system at the end of that period. If a message has administrative, fiscal, legal or historical value that exceeds the 30 day period, or if it is in danger of being deleted due to the 10-message limit for stored messages (of up to two minutes in length), it should be recorded onto audiocassette tape and/or summarized or transcribed and filed with the office's appropriate administrative files. Voice mail messages lacking substantive content, such as "call me back" or "please send me", may be deleted after hearing.
d. public information servers. Because the files located on public information servers are considered publications, they must be printed out and retained in hard copy exactly as printed publications would be retained and preserved.
e. graphics. Visual images stored in digital format may be deleted once they are no longer needed for administrative functions.
4. Electronic records management recommendations:
a. backup recommendations. To protect valuable Fort Lewis College data from accidental erasure, disaster, or system malfunctions - all of which are more likely than most of us care to think - a backup procedure should be in place for every office on campus. Office personnel should determine the frequency of data backups based on the frequency of data changes and the volume of records affected by periodic changes. Some offices may need daily backups to protect vital records; others may require only weekly or monthly backups.
The "three generations" backup rule is standard operating procedure. The three most recent backup tapes, cartridges or diskettes must be retained at all times; the oldest backup copy is used for making the new backup. Also, it is recommended that the backups be stored off-site; at a minimum, this means storing the backups in some other building on campus than the one that houses your office's electronic records system. The College Archives is willing to provide off-campus storage for monthly backups in its secure, climate-controlled facility.
b. file naming recommendations. Effective naming of file space in which electronic information is stored is one of the first and most important steps in creating electronic documents and files. Using common file naming conventions for the 8-digit file name and the 3-digit suffix is a great step toward gaining control over electronic records.
Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery back to top
No institution, regardless of its size or location, is immune to disaster. We ought to be forewarned by the list of catastrophes in just the past few years. It is imperative that we plan so that we can minimize our risks, prevent some disasters, and respond wisely and calmly to the ones we could not entirely escape. Staff at the Center have responded to the need for adequate disaster preparation, and can offer disaster response service and recovery assistance to campus offices.
The Center's plans include lists of off-site disaster recovery services providers, stocks of basic response equipment and supplies, lists of off-site emergency equipment and supplies, and emergency procedures and instructions. The plans give particular attention to the disasters we are most likely to face, focussing on water damage because that is associated with almost every catastrophic event. Please see the Disaster Plan to access the above mentioned information.
DISPOSAL SCHEDULES back to top
As the immediate usefulness of certain records diminishes over time and they become inactive, considerations of space and operating efficiency force us to weed these older records from our active files. That is the purpose of disposal schedules. They allow us to identify those select records that, although not necessary for the daily operations of an office, are of enduring value to the department or the College and should therefore be retained longer or even permanently.
Office of origin/ record copy. The office that produces and/or compiles the record is the one responsible for its management. At an institution like ours, many of the records in our particular files are simply copies for our information. We need keep those duplicate materials only so long as they are actively used. We are only responsible to follow records disposal and retention schedules for those records for which ours is the office of origin.
General Disposal Schedule back to top
The following are ten of the most common categories of records. The Colorado State Archives has established retention periods for each category, as described below:
1. Budget materials. Most of the budget materials on hand in College and department offices are in the category of "budget work papers."
Retain the current calendar year of these materials + 2 years.
Retain formal budget submissions permanently.
2. Case files. These include records relating to particular projects, evaluations, events, proposals, and similar singular or unique activities.
Retain preliminary drafts and duplicate copies for the current calendar year + 2 years.
Retain final draft (the administrative file) permanently.
3. Administrative documents. These records include minutes, internal proposals, memoranda, correspondence, subject files and reports. Offices may want to consider looking closely at whether letters, memoranda, proposals, drafts, etc. are routine or general, and filing the two categories separately to facilitate subsequent disposition.
Retain routine documents for the current calendar year.
Retain general records for current calendar year + variable year(s) or permanently, depending on record type.
General records produced by the following offices are special candidates for permanent retention: records of the College's Governing Board; Office of the President, Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs and for Business and Finance; offices of each dean, including the chief Student Affairs Officer; the chief officer of College units operating with a high degree of independence; all major academic and administrative committees (including the Faculty Executive Council and its committees); the Registrar; and all publications issued in the name of the school).
4. Council and committee reports. These are general administrative records.
Retain originating office copy permanently.
5. Curriculum materials. The retention period is at the discretion of the office holding the materials.
6. Grants and contracts. This material must be retained for six years after the termination of the contract or grant. The source of the grant (federal government, private foundation, etc.) may have longer requirements; if so, note these and follow them.
7. Interdisciplinary studies materials. See the preceding instructions for Administrative documents.
8. Personnel records in general. The College Personnel Office maintains all official personnel records, but duplicate and convenience copies are kept throughout campus. Before tossing any personnel records, contact the Personnel Office.
9. Personnel records pertaining to unsuccessful applications for a position. These materials, which include supporting materials, proliferate on campus. Retain these materials for three years after the position has been filled.
10. Student records. Applications, transcripts and other official student records are maintained in the offices of Admissions and/or Records. As with personnel records, duplicates and additional materials often are found in other College offices. Contact the appropriate office for instructions regarding the disposition of any official student records, and Archives Manager for information about handling other student records.
11. Other records, not already listed. Contact the Archives Manager for assistance.
Special Schedules (by department) back to top
To be developed.
FORMS & RESOURCES back to top
Records Office Survey
Records Box Label
Record Box Label Instructions: Please label the narrow end of each box with the details in the following box label format. Do not mark the record storage boxes in any other way. Please also send (as an email attachment in MS Word) a digital file that lists the box contents (usually, this will be the folder title, which is generally a name or subject followed by the earliest and latest dates of material in the folder).
Records Management Sources & References back to top
The following sources were indispensable in the creation of the Fort Lewis College Records Management Manual.
Higher Education Records Schedule 8 of the Colorado State Archives Records Management Manual
Colorado State Archives Record Management Manual
Records Retention for Public Colleges and Universities in Ohio: A Manual
Oregon State University Archives and Records Management Handbook
Recordkeeping Requirements: The first practical guide to help you control your records...What you need to keep and what you can safely destroy! by Donald Skupsky.
Guidelines for College and University Archives