Definitions and Frequently Asked Questions
This is a broad, but common question. Computer-based records, or electronic records, are the fastest growing type of record today. To answer this question reliably requires knowledge of the content and purpose of a given file. Knowing what the file contains, or what it is about, determines its classification as a record, not whether or not it is on a hard drive, a server, a CD-ROM, or other storage device.
Records or not, sensitive information protected by FERPA or other federal guidelines may reside in files on your computer. Before you surplus or otherwise dispose of a university owned computer, laptop, or other device that can store information you must ensure that such information is permanently erased from the device. Free tools to help you with this are available from the Records Center or the ITS Help Desk. Please visit Disk Wipe or Retiring Computer Hardware for more information.
- Reference materials, stocks of publications and brochures, quasi-official notices, unsolicited announcements, invitations, or other materials not filed as evidence of office or University operations.
- Preliminary drafts, worksheets, informal notes that do not represent significant steps in the preparation of record documents.
- Routing slips that contain no information or approvals, used to direct the distribution of papers.
- Extra ("convenience") copies of records in addition to the "official" copies maintained elsewhere, as long as they do not contain additional information.
- Blank Forms, templates (supplies on hand).
A "Public record" includes, but is not limited to, any writing containing information relating to the conduct and administration of the public's business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics. (Idaho Code, 9-337.12)
Records are the evidence of what the organization does. They document its business activities and transactions such as contract negotiations, business correspondence, personnel files, and financial statements, just to name a few.
A record is recorded information, in any form, including data in computer systems, created or received and maintained by an organization or person [at or near the time of] the transaction of business or the conduct of affairs and kept as evidence of such activity.
A record can exist in a number of formats, including various sizes of paper (original or photocopy), microfilm or any microform, electronic media, information captured in databases, email and email attachments, optical disk media, CD, mylar, sepia, blueline, photograph, audio and video tape, punched cards, books, and maps.
A Record Series is a group of records, performing a specific function and organized in a succession of like, correlated, or corresponding items, occurrences, or events; also a sequence of things having a progressive order or arrangement. A records series has a common sequence that relates to a particular subject or function, results from the same activity, or documents a specific kind of transaction.
A Retention Schedule is a listing of records series that indicate the full record series title, function/purpose, time to retain it in originating office and/or records center, as well as the disposal instructions, i.e., whether the record series should be microfilmed, destroyed, and/or transferred to the University Archives for retention.
Records of a confidential or proprietary nature should be destroyed in a manner that makes it very difficult to reconstruct the original information. In the case of paper documents it is important to use the shredding consoles that are provided through Records Management and not use personal shredders. If a department has a legal hold placed on their records is it easy to verify that destruction has been halted if the records to be shredded are always placed in the approved consoles because there is a record kept of their pick up and shredding. If you have a shredder in the office that you feed the documents into and it shreds as they are fed in, you can not verify that shredding stopped when the hold was placed. If you need a Records Management shredding console, they can be ordered from Records Management.
These are closely related concepts. Historic records are those that institutions have determined have significance due to their ability to document the history of the organization. An archival record is material determined to have permanent value, due to standards of practice (transcripts), significance (building floorplans), or legal requirements (lawsuits). A permanent record is one with a life span in excess of 50 or more years, due to the preservation and management requirements associated with maintaining them. In some states, records with a retention over 25 years are considered permanent, although they have an eventual destruction.
A document or file that does not document the original business activity is not a record. Thus most Banner reports are not records themselves, but reports on records. Duplicate copies of final reports, printouts or copies of permanent files made for reference, distribution copies of a publication, or routing copies of a memo or letter are all considered "non-records". Material acquired solely for the purpose of reference, that is, copies of other institutions' course catalog, programs from meetings, etc., are also non-records.
This information may very well still be useful and can be kept as long as necessary, but as non-record materials they are not subject to retention periods and so should only be kept as long as they are useful to your department.
"Writing" includes, but is not limited to: handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing and every means of recording, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums or other documents. (Idaho Code, 9-337.14)
The Records Center is a facility for storing university records. It serves the campus by providing low-cost, secure, centralized records storage services, employing modern and scientific records management practices. The Records Center is available to store inactive, semi-active and permanent records from all administrative and academic units of the University of Idaho. No change of ownership is implied by transferring records to the Records Center. Records are and remain the responsibility of the originating Unit for the life of the record.
Units may access or remove their records from the Records Center at any time. Only individuals listed on their unit's Access Authorization Form will be allowed to view or withdraw unit records from the Records Center.
Records essential to:
- The resumption and/or continuation of operations in the event of a disaster.
- The recreation of the legal and financial status of the University of Idaho.
- The fulfillment of the obligations to local, state, and federal governments and outside interests, for example: students, lenders, or the SBoE.