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... documenting the history of the University of Delaware

Records Management Program Procedures

2 Basic records management definitions


Note: many of these definitions were taken directly from or are modified from definitions found in Records and Information Management (Patricia Franks, 2013) and A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology (Richard Pearce-Moses, 2005).


Active record Records created and used by units and personnel to conduct the contemporary business of the university, prior to their being reclassified as inactive records.
Audit A periodic review and examination of records and recordkeeping activities to determine compliance with established policies, procedures, and records retention schedules.
Contact A contact, also known as a records management contact, is a university employee designated by his or her unit to represent that unit with regard to its records management activities, such as maintenance of the records retention schedule, requesting boxes of records from storage, and reviewing records for release or destruction.
Container list A document that indicates the range of materials in each box in a collection.  Ideally, it should list each series and file contained within a given box of records.
Copy of record Copy of record is defined as the single version of a document, often the original, designated as the official copy for reference and preservation.
Custodial unit The designated unit, as identified in the records retention schedule, responsible for management, retention, release, and authorization for destruction of university records under its jurisdiction.  It is not always the unit of origin for records that it manages, which may be transferred from unit to unit.
Destruction The disposal process that results in the obliteration of records beyond reconstruction.  Destruction includes the deletion of, obliteration of, and rendering unrecoverable electronic records, data, or information.
Disposition The process of final destruction or release of records to UARM.  Disposition marks the point of transition for records from the Records Management Program to the Archives Program.
Educational record Records that are related directly to students’ individual academic activities and maintained by the university, with exception of the following categories: 1) alumni records, 2) employment records, 3) health records, 4) law enforcement unit records, 5) peer-graded records, 6) psychological records, and 7) sole possession records.  See university policy Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Policy (Legacy Policy #4-20) for additional information on educational records and definitions of these types of records.
FOIA request Requests made by members of the public for access to university records as set forth in the Freedom of Information Act, the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (29 Del. C. §100), and/or University policy.  See university policy Access to Public Records under the Delaware Freedom of Information Act (Legacy Policy #3-30) for additional information on FOIA requests.
Historical record Records acquired by UARM through donation or release from the Records Management Program, and which over time are incorporated into its archival collections and made available to researchers for use.
Inactive record Records that no longer hold contemporary business value to the university and have reached the end of their retention cycle.  Inactive records are those records eligible for disposition, either through release or destruction.
Public record Records to which members of the public have full and unrestricted access, as set forth in 29 Del. C. §10002 and university policy.
Record Recorded information that documents transactions or activities by or with any officer, employee, or unit of the University of Delaware.  Regardless of physical form or characteristic, the recorded information is a university record if it is produced, collected, received, or retained in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of university business.  The medium upon which such information is recorded has no bearing on the determination of whether the recording constitutes a university record.
Records management The systematic and administrative control of records throughout their life cycle to ensure efficiency and economy in their creation, use, handling, control, maintenance, and disposition.
Records retention schedule A document that identifies and describes an organization’s records, usually at the series level, and provides instructions for the disposition of records throughout their life cycle.
Release The disposition of records through discharge from their custodial units and transfer to UARM for review and potential inclusion within its historical collections.
Retention period The length of time that records should be kept in a certain location or form for administrative, legal, fiscal, historical, or other purposes.
Series A group of similar records that are arranged according to a filing system and that are related as the result of being created, received, or used in the same activity.
Subpoena Within the context of records management, a subpoena is a writ or court order compelling an organization to produce evidence in the form of records and data for use in a civil or criminal legal proceeding.
Vital record Records necessary to begin recovery of business after a disaster, as well as those rights-and-interest records necessary to protect the assets and resources of the organization, its employees, and its students.