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Storage and Record Formats

Inactive Record Storage

It is sometimes desirable to move inactive records not yet due for disposition from office to storage.The University does not have a centralized records center, although certain administrative areas do have space allocations, and others utilize commercial record storage facilities.The University Archives does not serve as a storage facility for inactive records.

The records storage area should be accessible, dry, and free from vermin.

Records to be placed in storage should be placed in order, folder by folder, in records cartons or transfiles.The boxes should be numbered in order and the contents of each box and the scheduled date of disposition should be clearly indicated on the outside.

"Charge out" cards should be used to indicate each time a folder is pulled for office use.These should record what has been pulled, by whom, and when, and should be inserted into the storage box in place of the pulled item(s) until the material is returned.

Microfilming Records

Microfilming offers several advantages as a medium for record storage: space savings, archival stability, legal acceptance, high image quality potential, vital record protection, and duplication for security storage off-site.Microfilm is a convenient storage medium for bulky records which require little weeding and which must be kept for extended periods, or for vital records which must be retained securely or indefinitely.However, microfilming is expensive, particularly in terms of document preparation.It is often less expensive to utilize low-cost storage.

Before contemplating microfilming, records must be inventoried and the specific series identified in order that the Department knows precisely what materials are on hand.The records must also be scheduled in order to determine how long they must be maintained and what will be their eventual disposition.

To analyze records for possible microform applications:

  • Examine each record series or file, paying close attention to frequency of use, physical characteristics such as color or type of paper, or preservation needs.
  • Consider the current costs of storing and retrieving these records.
  • Estimate costs for filming.Include costs associated with preparing and weeding records before filming: operator, processing, and inspection (and of retaking images where necessary); and if required, the purchase of microfilming equipment, office readers and reader-printers.
  • Compare costs and benefits of storage and filming bearing in mind the questions: Can it be microfilmed?Should it be microfilmed?Are the costs justified?

If the decision is to microfilm, an archival copy using silver gelatin film should be made and stored in an alternate location for security.Working copies should be made of diazo or vesicular film which, with proper care, should provide up to 100 years of useful life.

Electronic Records

University machine-readable records, that is, records which are created and maintained in electronic form for administrative purposes, are subject to the same requirements for records management as are paper and microform records.They are inventoried, scheduled and disposed under the same procedures.

Magnetic Tape (Based on Geller, Sydney B. Care and Handling of Computer Magnetic Storage Media .National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 500-101.Washington, D.C.June 1983.)

  1. Magnetic tape storage areas require a controlled environment free from dust, smoke, and high intensity magnetic fields.
  2. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity are to be minimized.Temperature should range between 62 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit; the relative humidity should be 40%.
  3. Magnetic tape should be stored in an upright position on a metal rack in plastic containers which support the reel at the hub.There should be external identification labels.
  4. Stored tapes should be cleaned and rewound under constant tension ever 1-2 years.Tapes should be examined once a year for physical deterioration such as broken reels.
  5. A sample of stored tapes needs to be tested for "read errors" (to see if data can still be used) once every 1-2 years.If errors are found, additional tapes should be examined.
  6. Data should be transferred to new tapes every 10 to 20 years, depending on storage conditions, maintenance practices, and the results of sample testing.
  7. Security, or backup, copies of machine-readable record must be maintained for the duration of the scheduled retention period.Backups may be electronic format, microform, or hard copy.The security copies are stored in another location.

Admissibility of Archived Computer Records

In the State of Ohio, computer records may be audited and may be admitted as evidence in a court of law much the same as with paper and microform media.

In order for electronic records to be legally acceptable, it must be possible to verify that:

  1. Records retention schedules and local policies concerning access, security backups, and data entry have been followed.
  2. The information stored electro-magnetically is: Recorded in the normal course of business; Recorded within a reasonable time after the event or transaction and includes an audit trail showing which data have been altered, when, and by whom; and Audited to establish the trustworthiness of the information.
  3. The computer media archived is both prepared properly prior to recording data (e.g., formatting) and that it is properly maintained in storage.

Labeling Computer Files

Files which cannot be identified because of poor external and internal labeling are useless.

Systems vary in the options provided for labeling tapes, CDs, diskettes and other forms of media, but it is important to use every means available.In addition to labeling the outside of a diskette or tape, enter the date and if necessary, the time when a file was used.On the office automation or other mainframe system, enter password and terminal designation.

Make file names as recognizable as possible.On microcomputers, the optional extension characters may be used for file names to indicate the creator's initials or as mnemonics for the type of document, for example COR (correspondence), MEM (memoranda), BUD (budget).Store different record series on separate disks.If machine-readable files contain confidential materials, coded filenames discourage unauthorized access.Note: Not applicable after Windows 95 as extensions have meaning.

A written Departmental or office policy dealing with labeling computer files, as well as security and access considerations makes it easier to work with these records in the future, as well as to audit, if necessary, admit them in a court of law.

EMail Management

Electronic communications systems in use at the University include, but are not limited to, office automation, E-mail, and Internet facilities maintained by the C.I.T.S., and local area networks maintained within colleges and other administrative units of the University.

Electronic mail created and received by employees of the University of Cincinnati during the course of business is an official University record, and as such falls under the purview of the University Records Management Program.Additionally, the University's computing resources are limited physically and financially in the amount of online storage which can be provided to users with electronic mail accounts.For both of these reasons, the following guidelines are important in ensuring effective, efficient and legal retention and disposition of electronic mail.

  1. Retain delivery and read receipts only if legally required.Generally these should be deleted and purged once they have been read.
  2. Delete and purge all junk mail once read.If there is anything a user feels will be of later use, it should be printed and filed as hard copy.
  3. Print and file routine correspondence and inter-office memoranda and retain until no longer administratively useful.Purge and delete electronic copies.
  4. Print out and file executive correspondence, that of administrators with the rank of Department Head and above and Faculty.Such correspondence documents administrative decision-making, committee, faculty, and campus activities and is retained in hard copy for 3 years or until no longer administratively useful, and then transferred to the University Archives.Electronic copies should be deleted and purged daily or weekly, depending upon the volume of use.
  5. Faculty correspondence, research data, and external scholarly communications (for example through the Internet) which are not of an administrative nature may still have significant archival value.These are printed out and filed with the Faculty member's papers.Electronic copies should be deleted and purged daily or weekly depending upon the volume of use.