Information Technology Services
Maintaining Public Records
- If we scan and image our records, do we need to keep the paper version?
You may scan any record, including permanent records. Your office should follow the instructions in the North Carolina Guidelines for Managing Public Records Produced by Information Technology Systems to conduct the Self Warranty process. You should consult the University Records Officer or Archivist before destroying any permanent records on paper that have been digitized. He or she will discuss with you the appropriate medium or format for the permanent preservation of the records concerned. Computer systems do not have long life cycles. Each time you change computer systems, you will have to convert all records to the new system so that you can assure their preservation and provide access. In many cases, in view of technological obsolescence, especially of software, only paper or microfilm is suitable for permanent preservation. The essential task is to assure that records with historical value remain accessible indefinitely into the future.
Non-permanent records may be retained in any format. You will have to take precautions with records that you must keep longer than about 10 years for the same reasons addressed above regarding the short life cycle of computer systems. Your office will still be required to conduct the Self-Warranty process described above.
- Should I print my email out and file it?
As long as the email is not a permanent record, as defined by the schedule, you may elect to keep it in electronic format. Some Universities may have email policies that give specific guidance for when emails should be printed out. Check with your University Records Officer.
- Why don't we just keep all of our computer records since computer storage is so cheap?
The best practice is to destroy all records that have met their retention requirements at the same time, regardless of format or medium.