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... documenting the history of the University of Delaware

Records Management Program Procedures

3 Introduction to records management


A formal definition of records management is provided in the preceding section. In its simplest terms, records management refers to the administration of the university’s records through their life cycle from creation to final disposition. Records are created or collected by university units to conduct their work, they are classified and controlled by various filing mechanisms in accordance with a records retention schedule provides rules for this work, they are secured and stored for differing lengths of time and recalled for use as needed, and finally they are destroyed or released to UARM for historical purposes. From the perspective of a university employee – essentially a client using the services of UARM – this unit is a partner to enable good records management practices, which in turn enhances the efficiency and productivity of the university workforce.


There are many benefits to be derived from good records management practices and policies, such as the following:

  • Improved knowledge of what constitutes a university record and what does not, thus enhancing the understanding of precisely which records should be collected and retained
  • Increased workspace due to destruction of obsolete records and offsite storage of active records, leading to cost-savings in the utilization of office space
  • Increased reliability, accuracy, and speed in retrieving and utilizing needed records, thus increasing workplace efficiency and productivity
  • Improved compliance with Federal and state legal and regulatory requirements and university policies
  • Reduced risk of adverse legal or regulatory actions caused by not keeping identified records for sufficient time or keeping other records for too great a period of time
  • Preservation of appropriate records for historical purposes


Records management developed in the last century in an environment of paper and other physical records such as microfilm and microfiche. In many ways, its practices and terminology reflect vestiges of this legacy. However, the modern workplace is dominated by the use of electronic records; it is now a paper-sparse environment at most.

Electronic records management is discussed at several points in the following text. However, for a consolidated perspective on this topic, refer to the “Digital Records Management” document contained in Appendix 9.1.