All records have some practical period of usefulness. The decision to keep a certain type of record permanently or destroy it at some pre-determined point in time should be based on the significance of the record to ongoing operations within your department. Every department should establish a written policy outlining the conditions under which the destruction of records is appropriate. Once records have outlived their practical usefulness, you must decide whether or not they should be retained. In some instances, there may be a required legal retention period in effect beyond the period of practical usefulness. Whenever possible, you should utilize all available information to determine the retention requirements of a record.
The following points of information should help you to make correct decisions regarding records destruction:
- Any convenience copy records or non-records (post-it notes, miscellaneous papers, correspondence without official significance) can be thrown away at any time after they have outlived their usefulness in your department.
- Official records and confidential records require no prior approvals for destruction as long as they are listed on an approved records retention schedule (see "Developing a Retention Schedule"). The destruction of these records must follow the retention time frames listed on the schedule.
- The UI Archivist (located in the Main Library) collects and preserves records of permanent historical value. The Archivist can be consulted at any time and should be consulted when destruction of records not previously placed on a retention schedule is contemplated. If the Archivist determines the records you have scheduled for destruction should be preserved, he/she will arrange for their transfer to the Library.
- Once its been determined that the records scheduled for destruction can actually be destroyed, shredding is the preferred method for paper records. For electronic, magnetic tape, CD and other types of computer records, make sure that the records are erased and can not be eventually retrieved. The ITS Help Desk (384-4357) can answer questions regarding ways to assure computer records are unretrievable.