What to Throw Away

What to Throw Away

Please use the chart Is It a Record? 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.

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, donated, or disposed of as trash.

  • Extra copies. Convenience copies, created and preserved only for ease of reference
  • 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.
  • Excess stock. Unneeded extra copies of forms and publications.
  • 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.
  • 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 memos sent by your department, and discard memos that concern routine matters such as holidays, vacation schedules, etc. Send the Archives 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. 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.

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. Examples include

  • papers accumulated by an employee before joining Fort Lewis College,
  • an instructor's course materials, such as lecture notes,
  • materials relating solely to an individual's private affairs, such as outside business or professional pursuits, professional affiliations, or private political associations, or
  • diaries, journals, personal correspondence, or other personal notes that are not prepared or received in the process of transacting College business.

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.

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.

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.


Delaney Library: Mon - Fri 1 - 4 pm or by appointment
Exhibit Gallery: Mon - Fri 1 - 4 pm or by appointment

For an appointment, please call 970-247-7126 (Archives) or 970-247-7359 (Gallery/Museum)


Center of Southwest Studies
Fort Lewis College
1000 Rim Drive Durango, CO 81301

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Parking: During the Fall and Spring terms, you can purchase parking passes online. Parking is free after 3:30 p.m. and during the summer, May to August.


Phone Numbers

Main Office: 970-247-7456
Library Reference Desk: 970-382-6982
Archives: 970-247-7126
College Records: 970-382-6951
Museum: 970-247-7359

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