General Restrictions Policy Statement

Introduction

The Center of Southwest Studies is committed to making research materials available to users on equal terms of access. This is in accordance with the standard professional policy on access adopted jointly by the Society of American Archivists and the American Library Association. Equal access does not mean that all materials are open to research use. It is the responsibility of the Center of Southwest Studies to balance the user's need for access with the needs for confidentiality of persons, institutions and people groups whose activities are reflected in the material. Consequently, the use of some materials at the Center of Southwest Studies, especially those of recent date, is subject to restrictions. In addition, please be advised that the Center provides access only to processed collections. Use of collections prior to their archival arrangement and description is not permitted due to administrative and legal reasons.

Specific Restrictions

Two types of restrictions exist. Specific restrictions are restrictions that were specified by the transferring agency or donor. They apply to certain particular records, usually for a specified length of time. Information about specific restrictions will be found in the OPAC record and/or in the accessioning dossier that covers the body of materials to which the specific restriction applies.

General Restrictions

This is the second category of restrictions. General restrictions are those that apply to access to more than one group of materials. They are applicable to particular kinds of information or designated classes of materials, wherever they may be found among the holdings.

The following is a list of the general restrictions that are applied to the materials held by the Center of Southwest Studies. These general restrictions were put into effect by the Fort Lewis College President on January 7, 1995.

Materials containing information, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy or a libel of a living person.

Definition. Materials containing information about a living person that reveal details of a highly personal or libelous nature which, if released, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy or a libel, including but not limited to information about the physical or mental health or the medical or psychiatric care or treatment of the individual, and which information is not known to have been previously made public.

Restrictions. Such records may be disclosed only:

  1. to regular employees of the Center of Southwest Studies in the performance of normal archival work on such materials.
  2. to the named individual or his authorized representative, provided that access will not be granted if the records are restricted pursuant to any other general or specific restrictions.
  3. to those officers and employees of the agency of origin or its successor in function who have a need for the record in the performance of their official duties.
  4. to the Donor of the materials or to the Donor's Designee, pursuant to the provisions of the Donor's deed of gift.

Materials containing confidential business, financial and/or socio-cultural information.

Definition. Materials that contain trade secrets, commercial, financial or ethnographic information that was obtained with an expressed or implied understanding of confidentiality.

Restrictions. Such information may be disclosed only:

  1. if the information consists of statistical totals or summaries and does not disclose the source of the information or identify individual parties, or
  2. if the party with whom the confidential relationship has been established agrees to its release, or
  3. if, in the judgment of the archivist, the passage of time is such that release of the information would not result in substantial competitive harm to the parties identified in the materials.
  4. to those officers and employees of the agency of origin or its successor in function who have a need for the record in the performance of their official duties.
  5. to the Donor of the materials or to the Donor's Designee, pursuant to the provisions of the Donor's deed of gift.

Materials containing confidential employment or personnel information.

Definition. Materials, containing information on appointment, employment, performance evaluation, disciplinary action, and similar personnel matters.

Restrictions. Such information may be disclosed only:

  1. if the information is a summary statement of service, or
  2. if the information does not identify particular individuals, or
  3. if the individual or his legal representative agrees to its release, or
  4. if the individual is deceased or the passage of time is such that the individual may be presumed to be deceased.
  5. to those officers and employees of the agency of origin or its successor in function who have a need for the record in the performance of their official duties.
  6. vi. to the Donor of the materials or to the Donor's Designee, pursuant to the provisions of the Donor's deed of gift.

Materials relating to investigations.

Definition. Materials containing information related to or compiled during an investigation of individuals or organizations.

Restrictions. Such information may be disclosed only:

  1. if the release of the information does not interfere with ongoing litigation or similar proceedings, and
  2. if confidential sources and information are not revealed, and
  3. if confidential investigative techniques are not described, and
  4. if the release of the information would not endanger the safety of law enforcement personnel, or
  5. if the passage of time is such that:
    1. (a) the safety of persons is not endangered, and
    2. (b) the public interest in disclosure outweighs the continued need for confidentiality.
  6. to those officers and employees of the agency of origin or its successor in function who have a need for the record in the performance of their official duties.
  7. to the Donor of the materials or to the Donor's Designee, pursuant to the provisions of the Donor's deed of gift.

Materials restricted by statute, regulation, executive order, or court order.

Definition. Materials containing information, the access to which is restricted by statute, regulation, executive order, or court order.

Restrictions. Such information may be disclosed only in accordance with the provisions of such statute, regulation, executive order, or court order.

Materials containing information regarding confidential decision-making.

Definition. Materials that contain information that was given in confidence in the period before a determination was made, including but not limited to advice given by attorneys, public accountants, and staff advisors.

Restrictions. Such information may be disclosed only:

  1. if the decision has been made public and the nature of the determinations leading to the final decision is known, or
  2. if the passage of time is such that release of the information would not impede current decision-making, or
  3. if, in the judgment of the archivist, the public interest in disclosure outweighs the continued need for confidentiality.

Source: Drawn from a model policy statement by Gary M. Peterson and Trudy Huskamp Peterson, Archives & Manuscripts: Law (Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 1985), pages 62-64.

 

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