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UNCW Records Management

This is a guide for all UNCW employees on records management.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you provide storage space for records that we are not ready to transfer but still need to keep?

Not at this time. Due to space limitations, we are not able to store nonpermanent records and we cannot provide temporary storage. The only records sent to the University Archives should be clearly identified for permanent retention and which are no longer needed in your office. For temporary storage needs, please contact Warehouse Services.

I have identified records that should be in University Archives. Can I send them over?

Please contact us first and we will arrange a process. It's likely that archives staff will retrieve them and may want to review them in your office first. We cannot accept transfers unless you have contacted us first.

What if there is a public records request or legal hold on records that are scheduled to be discarded?

If there is a public records request for records in your office, or if a legal or audit hold is placed on the records, keep the records until all holds are cleared. The disposition instructions in the records schedule are always superseded by public records requests or legal holds. Once you receive clearance that the holds have been removed, you can go ahead and follow the instructions in the records schedule. For questions about this process, contact General Counsel

What about faculty research? Is that included in the records management process?

Usually not. According to the North Carolina act on Higher Education (Chapter 116 of the General Statutes, section 43.17), unpublished research data is not considered a public record. We do still collect some faculty papers, but only when these are donated to the library -- they do not come in through the records management process. Please don't hesitate to contact the University Archives with questions. 

What if I need to look at records after I have transferred them to the University Archives?

You are always welcome to make an appointment to visit University Archives at the Center for Southeast North Carolina Archives & History, Randall Library. If the records have been processed, you may view them in the reading room when it is open. If the collection has not yet been processed (this is more likely if you transferred the records recently), then contact us and we will set up a time for you to come by and review the records.

I have a digital and a paper copy of a record. Which one should I keep?

It depends on what kind of record it is and how it was used. If it was used primarily as an electronic file (for example, a Word document that was sent to staff), keep the electronic copy. If it was printed and shared, keep the print copy.

Can I just scan all the records in my office and keep them electronically?

Scanning paper files for digital use and storage does not change your records management responsibilities for those materials. You will still be responsible for securely storing and disposing of the records based on the Retention Schedule.

If you need to save space, our first suggestion would be to spend the time you would have devoted to scanning on organizing and looking through the records to figure out whether there are any you can discard or arrange to transfer to the University Archives. If you still want to go ahead with scanning, let us know: we cannot provide help with digitization but we can provide tips and suggestions on imaging standards, file formats, and digital preservation as you design a workflow.

What do I do if I think the records schedule is wrong?

This happens occasionally. Sometimes new university, state, or federal guidelines are introduced that conflict with the instructions in the records schedule. If you think the records schedule is incorrect, please contact the University Archives and we will help find a solution. We work with the State Archives to revise the records schedule on a regular basis (usually every couple of years) in order to make sure that it is up to date and reflective of current practices and laws.

Can I keep records for longer than the retention periods on the schedule?

The schedule stipulates minimum retention periods. It is very important that you do not discard records too early. While it is generally not as problematic to keep records a little longer than the scheduled time frame, you should follow the schedule unless you have a clear and documented reason for extending the retention period, and you are following consistent practices.

I thought I was not supposed to get rid of any of the records in my office. Is that right?

Not really. It's true that all records created by UNCW employees are subject to the State of North Carolina's Public Records Act, but the law does allow many records to be discarded. The General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule is the policy document that describes what records can be discarded and when and which ones need to be kept. If the records schedule says that certain documents do not need to be retained, you can get rid of them.

What do I do if I have a bunch of older records that were created by somebody who does not even work here anymore?

This happens a lot. Those records remain the responsibility of the office that created them. If you've inherited a lot of old records, talk with your supervisor about who in your office should take responsibility for reviewing the records to determine which ones, if any, need to be kept and transferred to the University Archives. Feel free to contact us as well, we're happy to provide suggestions.

I don't have time to look at and organize all of the records in my office. Can I just send them all to you?

No. The University Archives has a staff of just two people, and we support the entire university. Every department on campus must be responsible for managing the records in their office according to university and state guidelines. However, we are available to visit your office and look through your records with you and talk about strategies for getting organized and managing the records in your office.