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Records Retention Geek Squad

April 1, 2009

Getting Ready for Spring '77 Registration, January 7, 1997. Gil Barrera Photographs of UTSA.

Is this you?

April is Records & Information Management Month, and the records geek in me could not be more excited. Over the past year, the University Archives has greatly expanded records management services, and we created a Web page to tell UTSA Departments about what the Archives can do for them: University Archives Services.

One thing most departments don’t know we offer is what I like to call the “Records Retention Geek Squad” service. This refers to on-site help — i.e., in your office, with your records present — with figuring out what to keep, how long to keep it, when and how to shred it, and what goes to the University Archives. Although it is the UTSA records retention schedule (PDF) that dictates all of this information, staff members are still thrilled to discover that many of their records can already be destroyed.

The best service we can offer to departments is helping them create what’s called a file plan. A file plan is a customized version of the records retention schedule, thoroughly compliant with retention instructions but written in the language a department uses. Instead of going crazy (and wasting valuable time) browsing for “invoices” on the retention schedule (would you think to look for “Purchase Vouchers”?), one could simply list “Invoices” on the file plan.

A file plan can also document the format in which a department is saving each type of record. Perhaps a department has made the decision to print all important e-mails, while other records are best kept electronic (databases, Web sites, etc.) The file plan will quickly answer that question, perhaps giving instructions for where to save the archival copy of the electronic records.

In its current iteration, the UTSA records retention schedule is a 37-page PDF document with general descriptions of record types, retention periods, archival codes, and various notes. A file plan can be a few pages long, including only the records a department regularly creates. If you’re a UTSA staff member who’s ready to start a file plan — or need a visit from the Records Retention Geek Squad — please contact the University Archivist.

Photo credit: Getting Ready for Spring ’77 Registration, January 7, 1977. Gil Barrera Photographs of UTSA.

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