Guidelines for Records Management
Records Filing Systems
- File distinct series or types of records separately. For example:
- File correspondence in one drawer, directory, or alphabetized section
- Minutes in another
- Financial records in a third
- Reference or subject files in a fourth
- Each of these series will have a different “life cycle” or retention period in your office. Having distinct series will make it easier to pull out those series ready to be sent to the Archives or destroyed.
- At the beginning of each year, start new files for correspondence, minutes, and other annual records, transferring the past year's files to another drawer and removing the oldest year's files to be transferred to the Archives.
- File organizational correspondence by organization, not by the correspondent's name. File personal letters by the correspondent's name. (e.g., John Jones of the GC Education Department would be filed under GC Education, and Sally Smith of Grand Fork, North Dakota, would be filed under Smith.
- Different types of correspondence—institutional, departmental, non-workers—can be filed in one large alphabet, with tab positions indicating the type of correspondence, or clearly subdivided with separate alphabetical sections within the correspondence file.
- If an item is temporary, mark it for later destruction upon receipt. This can be done by using some type of stamping device or other type of flag. Do not put yourself in the position of having to separate "permanent" records from "ephemeral" or temporary records at some future time, when you or someone else will have to restudy the whole file. Separate or mark each record at the time it is produced or received, while it is still fresh in your mind.
- Certain records, such as correspondence or minutes, can be transferred to the Archives after only a few years. Subject or reference files should not be transferred until the topic is no longer current and the folder is not needed for reference. File record series with annual cut-off dates separately from those with indefinite cut-offs. This will minimize or eliminate sorting and revamping files at the time some records are transferred to the Archives.
- Hanging folders are an efficient and appropriate way to file records in your office. However, when sending files to the Archives their contents must be transferred to manila folders (accordion folders or Afile pockets@ are acceptable for large files) that are clearly labeled with a ballpoint pen or pencil (other markers may run or bleed). Adhesive labels are not permanent, will come off in a few years, and should not be used for records kept more than a few years. Do NOT send records to the Archives in hanging folders. Recycle them in your office.
- Files can be set up using the hanging folders. However, a manila folder into each hanging file labeled the same as the handing file is an easy way to organize files. When it is time to transfer the contents, pull out the manila folder, place it in the transfer box, and replace it with a new, labeled manila folder.
Guidelines for Organizing and Transferring Electronic Records
The Archives accepts electronic format records (records in machine-readable form) as well as paper records. (See p. 9.)
- For the best results in retrieving electronic records file them in directories in the same way you would file your paper records. Be sure directories are clearly named for the eventuality that someone else may need to access the records. Be sure to use file names and directories that identify the records clearly and accurately. For example, a record named for a month and year has no meaning unless it is in a directory clearly labeled that the contents are committee, correspondence, or subject files.
- For electronic records, copy your yearly correspondence onto a storage device such as a flash drive to send to the Archives. Please send your records to the Archives in ONLY one form. Do not send both paper and electronic records. We will keep only one set of records, preferably a paper version.
- Since electronic records such as correspondence are copied to a storage device the original file remains on your hard drive. You can send the storage device containing the archived copy of your correspondence to the Archives whenever you are sending paper records. When it is no longer necessary to frequently refer to the older correspondence it may be deleted from your hard drive. Do not delete older correspondence without first establishing that a backup or archived copy exists.
- The Archives must have certain information in order to be able to retrieve your electronic files. We must know the office of origin, the format of the file and the date the file(s) was created. Much of this information can be contained in an index attached to the Records Information and Transfer Form.
Suggestions for Groups of Offices, Faculty, and Staff
Offices can utilize filing space more efficiently by eliminating duplicate filing of some kinds of general records. Those groups of offices where it would be effective are encouraged to set up a central resource file to relieve individual offices of the need to maintain separate files which may duplicate each other.
The frequency with which records are used determines the need for their proximity to the user. Records which are used daily should be in a drawer of the workstation or desk, while those that are needed weekly or monthly can be kept in filing cabinets in a central file area. Records that are referred to only two to six times a year, particularly those of a resource nature, can be most efficiently maintained in the office central resource file. When records reach the stage where they are not needed for reference more than once a year, they should be transferred to the Archives.
The following is a suggested list of types of general records that could be included in a office central resource file:
- Minutes of committees when more than one staff member is a member of the committee
- Newsletters and other publications from organizations of common interest
- Miscellaneous reports of finances, statistics, or other types
- Publications of the office
- Resource material that could be useful to more than one staff member
- Bulletins, publications, and other routine materials from other Andrews University offices
- Catalogs produced by or related to the office
- Staff itinerary and conference reports
- Computer users' manuals
- Other items unique to the office
Instead of having these types of records coming to every office in the group money, space, and filing time could be saved if each group received one copy for its central resource file and another copy to be circulated. The circulating copy could be stamped with the office name to remind users that it is not their personal copy. Then this circulating copy would be destroying after it has made the rounds of the office group.