Procedures University Records Management

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  1. Consult the University Records Retention Schedule and group your records with like Record Series.
  2. Organize your records according to the classification system used to locate them. Some examples of this are:
  • by year
  • alphabetical order
  • file/record number

** Note that more than one may apply. For example, they can be broken down by year and then organized alphabetically **

3. Store in well put together standard records center boxes measuring 15” x 12” x 10” (W.B. Mason – Item #FEL00703), also known as bankers boxes. Keeping the following in mind:

  • Store same record types together.
  • Don’t put multiple years together in one box. If you do not have enough of 1 year’s records to fill a box, please place dividers in the box indicating where each year ends. URM staff reserves the right to break these out into smaller boxes.
  • Don’t overstuff the boxes. There needs to be room to search through the box and add new material to the box if needed. We advise that there should be 1.5 inches of space in both the front and back.
  • Don’t store hanging folders, this compromises the integrity of the box and does not allow for long term storage.
  • Label your boxes on the short end with the department name, deposit number (once received), and box number (ex: 1 of 6).
  • Let us know if there is anything other than paper in the boxes. For example: photographs, disks, cds, hard drives, flash drives, or microfilm. While these are allowed for storage, some of these records have unique storage requirements.
  • Don’t send over records that have passed their retention requirements.

** Failure to follow the above may result in your boxes being returned to you to be fixed **

4. Complete the Request to Deposit Records form and Records Deposit inventory template.

5. After receiving approval from URM staff, write your deposit number on the boxes.

6. Contact Facilities to arrange for transport of your records to the University Records Center, 140 Hawkins Building. This will be done at a cost to your department. You also have the option to have someone from your department drop the records off. Please contact URM staff to arrange a date and time.

7. Once the records have been processed and stored, URM staff will send a Deposit Report for your records.

Complete the Records Request Form.

University Records Management staff will retrieve records. Please allow 24-48 hours for the retrieval process.

File requests and single box requests will be hand-delivered by Library Delivery.

Box requests exceeding two boxes must be retrieved by a staff member of the requesting department. Or, the department can contact Facilities Services to transport the records at a cost to the requesting department.

Contact University Records Management at when ready to return the records to the University Records Center.

Departments also have the option of examining their records in-person at the University Records Center.  Please contact University Records Management ahead of time so that arrangements can be made to retrieve requested records and have them ready for review.

  1. URM conducts a biannual review of its records stored in the URC to identify records that have met their eligible destruction date.
  2. URM will prepare an Authorization to Destroy Records form, which lists the boxes ready for destruction. The form will be sent to the appropriate department records coordinator, who will obtain the necessary signed approval from a dean, director, or department head. NOTE: URM will NOT destroy records without signed approval from corresponding departments.
  3. Please review the eligible boxes to ensure that no unresolved audit questions, investigations, litigation, or other reasons for holding up the destruction exist.
  4. Mark the check boxes next to the boxes your department has approved for destruction.
  5. Email the signed form to URM by the due date.
  6. URM will absorb the destruction costs for all boxes stored in the URC that are currently eligible for destruction.
What is a Record

Information, regardless of physical format, which have legal, fiscal, administrative, or enduring value that are created or received by Syracuse University. Records provide evidence of its operations, document business decisions, and/or have value requiring their retention either for a specific period or permanently.

How Long to Keep It

A retention period is the length of time a record must be retained to comply with legal, fiscal, administrative, or historical needs and requirements. The University Retention Schedule defines SU's policies for how long records must be kept. A retention period is the length of time a record must be retained to comply with legal, fiscal, administrative, or historical needs and requirements.

What Not to Keep

Non-records are documents such as drafts, worksheets, routine memos, materials made available from public sources, or duplicate copies of original records created for convenience or distribution. These documents have no retention value and can be disposed of at the discretion of the user. Some other examples include work papers, outlines, notes, to-do lists, reminders, blank forms, labels, or other reading files.

How to Dispose of Records

Discard or recycle records that only contain public data.

Destroy or shred information that contain any sensitive and/or confidential information. Sensitive information includes Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as date of birth, SSN, credit card numbers, etc.; Personal Health Information (PHI) such as medical records; education records protected by FERPA; and human resources records such as salary information.

Electronic Record

All records must be managed in accordance with University policies and in compliance with federal and state laws. The same safeguards and controls over information stored electronically apply as for information created and maintained in paper form.

Manage emails, files on network drives, and other electronically stored information based on its content and determine the appropriate retention period using the University Retention Schedule.

Archival Records

Document the history of the University’s organization, activities, functions, policies, and people. Archival records have enduring or historical value and may include, but are not limited to, reports, meeting minutes and agendas, theses and dissertations, SU publications, photographs, and faculty and alumni papers.  Due to the historical and/or scholarly significance of these materials, archival records are permanently kept and should be transferred to University Archives when they are no longer needed for business use. Please contact University Archives for any questions regarding the identification and/or transfer of archival records.

Guidance to all schools, colleges, departments, and offices across the University interested in digitizing their hard copy (e.g. paper and film) records. Scanned University records are required to be authentic, accurate, complete, and retrievable to ensure all digital images serve as acceptable evidence for any legal, audit, or administrative purposes. Adherence to these guidelines, along with industry best practices, ensures that digitized records will meet the above requirements for the duration of their respective retention periods.

Authenticity – An authentic record can be proven to be what it purports to be, created or sent by the person purported to have created or sent it, and created or sent at the time purported.

Reliability – A reliable record can be trusted as a full and accurate representation of the transactions, activities, or facts to which it attests.

Integrity – A complete and unaltered record is said to possess integrity.

Usability – A usable record can be located, retrieved, presented, and interpreted.

Patricia C. Franks, Records and Information Management, 2nd ed. (London: Facet Publishing, 2018), 60.

File Formats
  • Digitized images with retention periods of 10 years or more - TIFF or PDF/A
  • Digitized images with retention periods of less than 10 years - TIFF, PDF, PDF/A
Imaging Resolution
  • Minimum resolution of 300 pixels per inch (ppi)
Quality Assurance

Should be implemented to ensure that scanned materials are accurate and authentic. This is a 100% visual inspection authentication process to verify that each digitized document is a legible and reliable representation of the original record. Any image deemed of unacceptable quality should be rescanned and re-inspected.

Records Retention

Digital images and correlating indexing data must be effectively and efficiently managed over time. All records, regardless of physical format, must be retained until their retention requirements have been met. (New York State Archives, Digital Imaging Guidelines. PDF File. 2019)

Please consult the University Retention Schedule for more information about the University’s records and their approved retention periods.

When digitizing documents, it is important to know that some records can only be scanned for access, not for replacement of paper or film records. In this instance, the original hardcopy materials will remain the official record. Federal and state regulations may mandate that you retain original documents for a specific period of time. Both record copies (original and scanned) must be retained for the duration of their respective retention periods.

Please note that these guidelines provide the minimum standards for digitizing most non-permanent records. Contact University Records Management for guidance prior to scanning any vital records (e.g. contracts/agreements, insurance records, retirement files, permanent business records, etc.). University Records Management can also advise and assist on larger imaging projects.

Active Record A readily accessible record related to current, ongoing, or in-process activities and referred to on a regular basis to respond to day-to-day operational requirements.

Destruction Process of eliminating or deleting a record, beyond any possible reconstruction.

Destruction Hold A hold placed on the destruction of records due to foreseeable or pending litigation, governmental investigation, audit, or special organizational requirements.

Disposition For a record, the final action taken per the retention schedule, concluding with destruction, transfer, or permanent preservation.

Inactive Record A record no longer needed to conduct current business but must be preserved until it meets the end of its retention period.

Inventory A detailed listing of records, includes the types, locations, dates, volumes, equipment, classification systems and usage data of the records. An inventory can be as small as what is in one box or folder, or a listing of all the records for an entire department.

Nonrecord Any information that does not meet the definition of record or that has been excluded from coverage by the definition. Note: Examples of nonrecords include extra copies of documents or publications only kept for reference.

Official Copy The copy of a record designated to satisfy an organization’s retention requirements for information that exists in multiple copies. Example: The Registrar’s Office copy of a student’s grades are the Official Copy, not the departmental or instructor copy.

Record Any recorded information, regardless of medium or characteristics, made or received and retained by an organization for business use or legal obligations.

Records Center A specially designed, warehouse-type facility that provides safe, economical storage for records consulted infrequently but must be retained for legal or operational purposes.

Records Life Cycle The span of time of a record from its creation/receipt, through its useful life, to its final disposition (transfer to another entity, archival retention, or destruction).

Records Management The field of management responsible for establishing and implementing policies, systems, and procedures to capture, create, access, distribute, use, store, secure, retrieve, and ensure disposition of an organization’s records and information.

Records Retention The length of time a record must be kept to meet administrative, fiscal, legal, or historical requirements.

Records Retention Schedule A comprehensive list of record series titles, indicating for each series the length of time it is to be maintained. May include retention in active office areas, inactive storage areas, and when and if such series may be destroyed or formally transferred to another entity such as archives for historical preservation.

Record Series A group of related records filed and/or used together as a unit and evaluated as a unit for the purpose of a retention schedule.

Vital Record A record that is fundamental to the functioning of an organization and necessary to the continuance of operations.

Records Management Procedures