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Records Management

Guide to records management practices and requirements at the University of Maryland, College Park

Managing Records

This section includes general information about sustainably managing records in an organization, such as a campus unit, student group, unions, or community organization. Topics in this section:

The Office of General Counsel provides guidance for campus units about public information requests.

Records self-assessment

Use these questions to map out how your organization works and how it creates and uses records. Take stock: Do your systems fit the work you do, who does it, and how you do it?

Assessment Category Questions to Ask
What does your organization do? What are the main programs and activities?
What is the structure?
What external organizations do you collaborate with or report to?
How do you document these programs, activities, sub-units, and collaborations?
Where do you manage records? What systems and spaces do you use to manage information?
What workflows and routines, such as backup, do you use?
Who has access to which systems and spaces?
  • What shared systems and spaces do you have or need?
  • What limited-access spaces do you have or need?
Who does what? Who is involved in each program, activity, and collaboration?
Who uses each system and how?
How do you manage records? What guidelines or policies do you use to manage records, files, and data?
How do you train, on-board, and off-board participants?
How do you start and end programs and activities?
What happens to old or inactive content?
How do you track versions of records, files, and data?
How do you name files?
What records do you manage? What records do you create and receive?
  • When and why?
Who are the records about?
Who uses the records? How? For what purposes?
How long is it useful to retain the records of your programs and activities?
What records do you manage in each space or system?
Personal or sensitive information What programs and activities involve personal or sensitive information? (such as personnel files, human subjects research data, student records, health information)
How do you manage personal or sensitive information?
  • In which spaces and systems?
  • Who has access to these records?
What personal or sensitive records do you work with?
Who are these records about?

Campus units only

Answer the following questions using the university records schedules.

  • Which records series apply to your campus unit as the office of record?
  • What are the retention conditions and disposition for each type of record  your campus unit creates, receives, and/or uses?

Digital content sustainability

Use this section to identify your organization’s risks and needs related to digital/electronic systems where records management takes place. What risks are acceptable to your organization, and why?

For IT security guidance, see the Division of Information Technology's Security page.

For guidance specific to managing and curating research data, see Libraries Data Management Resources.

Sustainability Category Questions to Ask
Systems inventory What hardware, software, and platforms does your organization use?
Who has access to each system? For what purposes?
Economic factors What is the business model of each system?
  • Is there any chance its business model will change?
Who maintains your systems?
  • Are they proprietary and maintained by a corporation?
  • Are they open-source and maintained by an institution or volunteers?
  • How long will maintenance continue?
How do you access the systems? (University license, free and open-source, unofficial copy, free but collects user data)
Data portability Can you export all data you created on the system?
Can you use files and software on multiple operating systems?
Can you use files and data created with one software and version in other software/versions?
How common are the hardware and software?
Do you anticipate having long-term access to the hardware, software, or platform?
File format sustainability For text:
  • Should the file contents maintain specific formatting across different software?
  • Should file contents be editable?
For audio:
  • Should the file be playable in stereo?
  • Editable as separate tracks?
  • Sampled?
For video:
  • Should the file include separate audio and video tracks?
  • Should it include a caption file?
For data:
  • How should you and others be able to manipulate and interpret the data, e.g. visualizing, cleaning, or transforming?
  • What schema, metadata, or other documentation would others need in order to work with this data?

Records workflows

Two key workflows for effective records management are:

  • A regular cycle or schedule for reviewing and screening records
  • A process for moving records from active to inactive to disposition

Records review cycle

Establish a review cycle to regularly screen and identify records that:

  • Are no longer in active use by the organization (inactive);
  • Are not necessary for recovery in an emergency (non-vital);
  • Must be retained and disposed of according to the UMD records schedule (campus units only)

Based on your records self-assessment, identify a practical, recurring time to review records, or an event that can trigger a records review. For example:

  • When you have completed a project
  • At the end of the fiscal year
  • When a person leaves or joins your organization
  • At less busy times of the year when you can dedicate time to reviewing records

Review cycles work best when they fit the life cycles of programs and activities in your organization, with clearly stated roles and responsibilities.

Move records from active to inactive to disposition

Establish processes for moving records from active to inactive status, and from inactive status to disposition (archive or destroy). For example:

  • Designate different storage spaces for active and inactive records
  • Regularly review active records spaces for potentially inactive records.
    • Move inactive records to the inactive records space.
  • Regularly review inactive records spaces for records that meet retention criteria.
    • Dispose of these records (destroy or transfer to archives).
  • Schedule regular appointments with the University Archivist to transfer potentially archival records.

Disposing of records (campus units only)

Certificate of Records Disposal

UMD campus units disposing of records must submit a Certificate of Records Disposal to Procurement and Business Services. Units must retain the certificate for 10 years after disposing of records.

Provide the following information in the certificate:

Form Field Instructions
Number (No.)

Number the groups of records to be disposed of, 1 to N

Description of Records Title, description, and/or form number of the relevant Records Series
Retention Schedule No. State Archives-assigned identifier for each schedule:
  • University: 2374A9
  • Department of Public Safety: 2546
Item No. Item Number of the applicable Record Series as listed in the schedule
Inclusive Dates Provide a date range for when the records were created
Volume (Cubic Feet) Applies to paper records in boxes only
Date of Disposal Date on which records were destroyed or transferred to University Archives
Method of Disposal Destruction or transfer to University Archives, depending on the disposition specified in the applicable records schedule

Records destruction

Records may only be destroyed if they have met their retention conditions and the applicable records schedule indicates that they must be disposed of by destruction.

  • Paper records must be shredded.
  • Digital records must be deleted and repeatedly overwritten; storage media (discs and drives) may then be e-cycled. The Division of Information Technology offers a Storage Device Destruction service.
  • Twice-yearly campus shredding events and the annual 8-week RecycleMania event are opportunities to safely dispose of records approved for destruction.

Records transfer

The disposition for some records series specifies that they be transferred to University Archives, with or without screening by the unit and/or the University Archivist. Visit the section on University Archives and records management to learn more.