Records Management Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a record?
A: A record is:
- Any document regardless of physical form or characteristic (i.e., paper, electronic, email or other format)
- Any document created or received by or comes under the jurisdiction of a public office (YSU is a public office)
- Any document that records/provides evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office.
All records of the university are public unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure under law (i.e., Medical records, FERPA, and Attorney-Client Privilege records)
Q: Can I destroy my documents when I no longer need them?
A: If your documents are considered a record of the University (see the definition of “records” above), you must consult the YSU Records Retention Schedule to determine the length of time to keep your documents. Once that time is up, a Certificate of Records Destruction must be filled out for destruction approval. Once that form is signed by the authorized department (YSU Archives) only then can destruction of records occur in an approved manner (i.e., confidential information must be shredded or disposed of securely).
Q: What if I can’t find my record on the YSU Records Retention Schedule?
A: The YSU retention schedule is arranged as a “Functional Series” schedule. The schedule is organized in general categories to cover various types of records for the entire University. This means large groups of records will fall into one retention category. Records may be harder to find because the descriptions are generalized and it is possible that not all records are listed on the retention schedule. The YSU Records Retention Schedule follows the Inter-University Council of Ohio’s Manual, “Records Retention for Public Colleges and Universities in Ohio.” Contact the YSU Archives and Special Collections (ext. 3487 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org) for questions about records.
Q: Can I scan my documents and destroy the paper copies?
A: Yes, paper records may be destroyed after being reproduced in electronic format IF:
- The electronic document is a perfect and exact reproduction>
- The electronic document is available upon demand
- The paper documents are not involved as exhibits in pending litigation
Keep in mind that electronic records follow the same retention schedule and should be removed routinely.
Q: Are electronic documents covered under the records retention schedule?
A: Yes, electronic documents are treated the same as paper documents. The Records Retention Schedule refers to any university record regardless of format.
Q: What does the word “active” mean in the retention schedule?
A: Active can have different meanings depending on context. The most common use for “active” is simply documents being used by an office or employee. Here are some more defined ways for the use of the term “active”
- Contracts and documents which are based on a timeline or event - active is until the timeline or event has passed.
- Students documents – active is until the student is absent from the University for 3 consecutive semesters.
- Employee files –active is as long as the employee is working at YSU.>
Q: What do I do with records which are pending or involved in litigation?
A: If you have documents which are involved in litigation or have a legal hold, do not dispose of them. Keep the documents until the litigation process is complete. If you have questions about this, please contact General Counsel at 330-941-2340.
Q: What are transient documents?
A: Transient documents are records containing information of short term usefulness which allows a public office to dispose of these records once they are no longer of administrative value. This includes informal and/or temporary messages which may be voice mail, email, telephone slips or post it-type notes. It may also include “draft” documents if the draft does not meet the definition of a “Record” and are no longer of administrative value. Retention is not a fixed period of time and is event driven; it maybe as short as a few hours and could be as long as several days or weeks. You do not need prior authority (filling out a Certificate of Records Destruction) to destroy transient records. The following items are examples of transient documents:
- preliminary drafts (when superseded)
- voice mails and telephone messages
- documents designated as superseded or up-dated
- user copies (not original documents)
- routing slips, telephone message slips and post-it notes
Q: What do I do when the retention schedule says “Archival review”?
A: Contact the Archives and Special Collections. Your records may be suitable for transfer to the Archives and not for destruction.
Q: What do I do when I have a large amount of records to dispose of?
A: If you have a large amount of paper documents to dispose of, please contact Recycling at 330-941-2294. Confidential information must be disposed of securely following YSU’s established procedures.