University Records Program

University Records Program

Records management is a service the School Archives provides to the UNCSA community. Since the School is a state-supported institution, its records program is governed both by the state’s records management program and by the School’s own policies and procedures. The state program is mandated by the Public Records Act (G. S. 132) and responsibility for it lies with the Record Services Branch of the Division of Archives and History within the Department of Cultural Resources here in North Carolina.

The State Records Act mandates state control over the “public records” and defines them as:

All documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings magnetic or other tapes, electronic data processing records, artifacts or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions.

The Act goes on to state:

The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of North Carolina government or its subdivisions are the property of the people.

In practical terms, the provisions of the State Records Act govern almost all materials created in or received by School offices and the law mandates further that no material that falls under the definition of public records may be destroyed without permission. There are penalties under the law for persons destroying records without authorization, and the School can be held liable should a court discover that public records were destroyed without permission.

At the School of the Arts, the archivist is responsible for the records management program that strives to regulate the flow of administrative records within the School and to help School offices manage their records. The principal tool of the program is the Records Retention Schedule, a compilation of record keeping practices, which must meet federal and state requirements.

The retention schedule lists the record series kept by each office in the School, and provides information on the period (in years) and place (office, records center, archives) of retention. The schedule also designates which series should be kept permanently or destroyed when no longer needed. For example, the UNC System General Schedule specifically addresses academic documents.

The retention period for a record is based on its administrative, legal, fiscal or historical values. The administrative value is based on the record’s usefulness for the transaction of present or future administrative matters, the legal and fiscal values concerns record keeping requirements as set out by the law and the historical value reflects the record’s long-term worth for documentation of School activities.

The frequency of consultation determines the record’s storage location. When first created and for the period of time that the record is in constant use (active phase) it should be kept in the office where it was created or accumulated. As the record ages and usage declines it falls into a semi-active phase when it should be transferred to the designated records center. Eventually, records of permanent value (5-10% of all records) are transferred to the Archives for permanent retention and all other records are destroyed.

The UNCSA schedule or the more general University schedule provide the guidelines for orderly transfer to the Archives of records of permanent value, the temporary storage in our records center of those which have short-term value or are used infrequently by offices, and the destruction of valueless records. By placing valuable records in proper storage areas and by destroying worthless records, office efficiency is improved and considerable cost savings are realized. Adhering to schedules minimizes potential legal problems by keeping only what needs to be kept and only for the required retention period. The long-term benefit of a records management program is that it ensures that the Archives will capture those records deemed of lasting significance.

NC State Email Guidelines

According to G.S. 121.8 and 132.1: The content of electronic mail is a public record and may not be disposed of, erased, or destroyed without specific guidance from the Department of Cultural Resources. For your reference the following are links to the NC State Guidelines for Email Retention, Disposition and Destruction provided for state employees by the NC Department of Cultural Resources.

E-mail as a Public Record in North Carolina: A Policy for Its Retention and Disposition