Records Management Basics

What is records management?

Records and information management (RIM) is defined as "the professional practice of managing the records of an organization through their life cycle, from the time they are created to their eventual disposal. This includes identifying, classifying, storing, securing, retrieving, tracking, and destroying or permanently preserving records." (ARMA International

What are the benefits of records management?
  • Reduced need for storage space (electronic and physical) and reduced storage costs when following retention rules.
  • Ease of locating the information that workers need to do their jobs, thus improving efficiency in time management.
  • Ease in locating records when they are requested for audit, legal actions/requests, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, or other regulatory requirements.
  • Improved security of records containing highly sensitive data, through proper identification and storage.
  • Compliance with state, federal, and international laws pertaining to records retention, privacy, and other regulations.
What is a university record?

Recorded information that documents a transaction or activity by or with any appointed board member, officer, or employee of the University. Regardless of physical form or characteristic, the recorded information is a University record if it is produced, collected, received, or retained in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of University business. The medium upon which such information is recorded has no bearing on the determination of whether the recording is a University record. University records include but are not limited to: personnel records, student records, research records, financial records, patient records, and administrative records. Record formats/media include but are not limited to: email, electronic databases, electronic files, paper, audio, video, and images (photographs). (UVA Records Management Policy)

What is a record series?

A record series is a group of related records (in any format) held by an organization. A record series usually includes multiple, related documents that should be retained for a similar length of time. Examples of record series include: personnel records, student records, state and local fund financial records, research financial records, clinical trial records, etc. The various record series used by UVA (taken from records retention and disposition schedules established by the Library of Virginia) can be found in the Retention Schedule Database.

What is retention?

The length of time records should be kept in a certain location or form for administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, or other purposes. (A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology - Society of American Archivist)

For UVA and for other state, county, and local agencies, retention time periods are set by the Library of Virginia. Retentions apply to the official record for the University. Reference or convenience copies of records at the University should never be retained longer than the official records, and should be destroyed when reference value has ended.

What is disposition?

The action taken on records after the retention period has expired, as directed by the relevant retention schedule. Most records will be destroyed, whereas some deemed to have historical value may be transferred to the custody of an archival repository (a designated library/archives) for appraisal. A record transferred to an archival repository may or may not be kept by the repository upon completion of the appraisal process.