Posts Tagged ‘record format’

Can I Send Records Stored on Non-Paper Media to the State Records Center?

September 18, 2017 Comments off

We received the following question from a records officer, and thought it might be helpful for all records managers to hear the answer. So here it is in ‘Dear Abby’ form:

Dear Records Analyst,

I am in the process of preparing boxes to send to the Records Center, but heard that I should not send cassette tapes, VHS, DVDs, CDs, or flash drives. I have all of these, one or the other, in almost all of my files, some of which are from as far back as 1995. How am I supposed to archive these? Do you have any recommendations?


Ms. Multimedia

Dear Ms. Multimedia,

Thank you for your question; I’m sure you are not alone in wondering how to manage non-paper media. Although it is possible for you to send records on electronic storage media to the State Records Center, it may not be advisable.

You should consider a few factors when deciding:

  • The law requires that you maintain the records in a manner that allows full access for the length of the retention period (Utah Code 46-4-301 and 501; Utah Code 63G-2-604). That means that you must be able to view or hear the recordings on DVDs, open the data files stored on flash drives, etc. for the amount of time specified by the retention schedule.
  • Paper is a very stable medium, but other storage media such as DVDs, cassette tapes, and flash drives tend to degrade faster when not kept in a climate-controlled environment. The Records Center is not a climate-controlled archival repository.
  • The bigger concern, is media and format obsolescence. For records that need to be kept longer than 9 years, you need to convert file formats before the file type disappears, and regularly move the files onto more reliable storage media. This is referred to as data migration; having and implementing a data migration plan is an essential part of maintaining electronic records.
  • If the records are scheduled to be destroyed after the retention period ends, then the responsibility to maintain the records begins and ends with your agency, and your agency is assuming all of the risk when choosing how and where to store the records.
  • If the records are scheduled to be transferred to the State Archives after the retention period ends, then the State Archives also has a responsibility to maintain the records and needs to be consulted as you are deciding how and where to store the records. The State Archives may want to take further measures to ensure their preservation. Contact your records analyst with any questions or needs that you may have.

If you are sending non-paper media to the Records Center or to the State Archives, please notify a member of the Archives staff at the time of transfer.

It is very easy to do. Just check the box on the online Record Transfer Sheet form that says “Transfer Includes Non-Paper Records” (shown below):

RTS_Non-paper media included

Thank you for your question, and best of luck to you!


Records Analyst

Utah Division of Archives and Records Service


When a Note is a Record

October 26, 2011 Comments off

With more than 15 references to the term “personal” in the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), it comes as no surprise that Utah governmental agencies struggle to apply the term to the records managed by their office. GRAMA references:  “personal use,” “personal privacy,” “personal notes,” and more. Yet, there is no definition provided by the law to guide state records officers in assessing the public’s right to access government records. What is a records officer to do?

A quick review of the decisions and appeals issued by the State Records Committee (SRC) reveals that records officers have largely succeeded in interpreting GRAMA when they receive requests for records containing “personal” elements. Since 1992, only 11 of 238 cases have involved notes, both personal and business related. These statistics emphasize GRAMA’s underlying principle that it is the content of the record in question that matters, not the type of record or format of the record. In 2002, the SRC heard a case where the record requestor submitted a GRAMA request for “handwritten notes” included in a personnel file. The agency denied the request stating the handwritten notes were not records by definition.

GRAMA states, “record does not mean…a personal note or personal communication prepared or received by an employee or officer of a governmental entity in the employee’s or officer’s private capacity.”[1] Why were the handwritten notes released?

Upon review, the SRC determined that the content of the handwritten notes was not personal in nature and that the content related to an employee’s performance AND had been used as part of a disciplinary action against an employee. Due to these findings the handwritten notes were in fact records, were classified as private, and subject to release through a GRAMA request.

How can records officers decide whether a note is personal or business related?

First, they can review definitions provided by records management professionals or provided by other state’s laws (since Utah’s law does not define this term). The Society of American Archivists defines personal papers as “1. Documents created, acquired, or received by an individual in the course of his or her affairs and preserved in their original order (if such order exists). – 2. Nonofficial documents kept by an individual at a place of work.”[2] ARMA International defines a personal file as “material belonging to an individual that was not created or received in the conduct of business while in the employ of an organization.”[3] The United States Code defines the term personal records as “all documentary materials, or any reasonably segregable portion thereof, of a purely private or nonpublic character which do not relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties.”[4]

Second, review the content of the document in question. If the content relates in any way to business of the agency, it was not created in the individual’s personal capacity.

Third, review any documents in question with a supervisor to determine the nature of the content contained within the document. Just because the content is written on a Post-It® note does not mean the document is a “personal note.”

Fourth, do not include information of a personal nature with clearly business-related documents, i.e., personal events. “Lunch with Mom, 12:20” should be written on a personal calendar not a business calendar. Remember, any business related information maintained as part of a “personal file” is a record and the personal information becomes part of that record

Reviewing the content of the document is the best way to determine if the information is personal or business-related. Reviewing past SRC decisions and orders is an excellent resource for understanding GRAMA requests you have received and making an appropriate determination of the notes in hand.

State Records Committee Decisions and Orders: Notes

DAN SCHROEDER, Petitioner, vs.

LINDA HOUSEKEEPER, Petitioner, vs.

MARVIN MELVILLE, Petitioner, vs.

WILLIAM JUSTESEN, Petitioner, vs.

TOM CORLEW, Petitioner, vs.

Karl Dee Kay, Petitioner, vs.
Dept. of Corrections, Respondent

ROBIN C. BOON, Appellant, vs.

MARY JEAN MEATS, Petitioner, vs.
LOGAN CITY, Respondent

KRISTIN M. CAPPEL, Appellant, vs.

CATHY CARTWRIGHT, Appellant, vs.

GEORGE E. BROWN, JR., Appellant, vs.

[1] 63G‑2‑103(22)(b)(i)

[4] This definition refers to the President’s papers but is useful in creating a benchmark within your agency’s office. United States Code.United States, Government Printing Office. Available online through the Legal Information Institute of the CornellUniversityLawSchoolat