University Archives Enhances OSU Records and Information Management

Article by Daniel Noonan
Originally published in a different format

Since 1965, when the Board of Trustees approved the hiring of OSU's first archivist, and charged the university archives with providing leadership for "…the development of a program which is designed to produce an effective system for the creation, use, maintenance, and disposition of university records…" the Ohio State University archives, has been the principal source for information and guidance in matters concerning the retention, management, and disposition of university records.

Recently, the university archives has significantly enhanced its Web site, providing a virtual reference guide, where faculty and staff can find answers to their records retention questions, guidance concerning e-mail, transient records, electronic records, and the basics of records management, and an updated and more accessible General Records Retention Schedule.

The web site was developed around the core concept that most university personnel need an answer to the question, “How long do I need to keep this document?” Therefore, the focal point of the web site’s navigation visualization is the “Records Retention Schedules” icon. From this hub are eight spokes to general topics that inform us as to why we need to retain, manage, and ultimately dispose of or transfer to the university archives our records:

  • Records Management: An Overview – Addresses the question, “Why do we care about retaining and managing our records?” and explains the lifecycle of a record along with identifying the elements of an effective records management program.
  • E-mail Management: An Overview – Addresses the question, “Is e-mail a record?” and provides guidance for managing and storing e-mail.
  • eLectronic Records: An Overview – Addresses electronic records management and preservation challenges and concerns, while discussing the attributes of a trustworthy electronic record.
  • What is a Record? and Other Definitions – Defines what a records is within the context of OSU’s role as a public sector agency, and provides over 40 other records and information management definitions.
  • Records Transfer and Destruction Procedures – Describes how to transfer records to the university archives in accordance with the archives’ collection development policy, and discusses appropriate records destruction, providing a Certificate of Records Destruction for documenting official destruction.
  • Transient Records and Non-records: An Overview – Defines and provides management advice for Transient Records and Non-records, which are the bulk of documents we handle on a regular basis.
  • Records & Information Management Resources – Provides a listing of additional records and information management resources at OSU, along with links to state and federal resources and professional organizations.
  • Public Records Laws & Regs: An Overview – Provides a listing of state and federal laws and regulations that influence the management of records.

Most recently the core concept, “Records Retention Schedules,” has taken on a new look. The publicly accessible General Records Retention Schedule, which had been available as five individual web pages, is now available in a single searchable PDF. The existing general administrative, financial, personnel, student personnel, and student and course records schedules have been combined and augmented with additional records series encountered by most units on campus; further we have developed a category for Information Technology related records.

The PDF has been designed to open with bookmarks for browsing the different categories, as well as with instructions educating one on how to search the PDF. The instructions are also posted on the revised General Records Retention Schedules webpage. We envision this new tool facilitating a more effective and efficient process of records management and disposition. We continue to provide a listing of those units that have unique records retention schedules along with the date the schedule was last updated.

In addition to the archives’ enhanced web site, we are providing our first campus-wide training opportunity, Paper and Bytes: Managing OSU Records, on Tuesday, February 26. For questions and comments about electronic records management issues, contact Dan Noonan at Tamar Chute continues to answer questions about traditional OSU records retention and disposition and can be contacted at

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