Posts Tagged ‘risk analysis’

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


Alliance for Response: Safeguarding Utah’s Cultural Heritage

November 15, 2011 Comments off
       Some of Utah’s cultural heritage custodians met with first responders and disaster planners at the Utah Alliance for Response forum on November 2, to discuss actions that can be taken to protect  records and other cultural heritage artifacts in the event of a disaster. Planners hope that the outcome of this forum will be the creation of partnerships and strengthened communication between these groups. Education, preparation, and advanced planning will go a long way toward helping the state protect its records and cultural heritage in the event of a disaster.

     At the forum, Randy Silverman, preservation librarian at the University of Utah Library, described the tragic loss of records and cultural heritage in a disaster at Minot, North Dakota. Flooding of the Mouse River last June damaged thousands of  homes, and the community lost many irreplaceable records and artifacts. Utahans must consider ways to prevent a similar loss in the event of a major earthquake or other disaster. Forum speakers discussed first responders’ role in protecting cultural property. Then discussion groups came up with ideas about things that can be implemented to mitigate the loss of records and cultural heritage in the event of a disaster. Ideas expressed include the following: (see discussion notes)

  1. Cultural heritage custodians can become acquainted with emergency responders and provide them with information in advance. A diagram of the building – maybe even a tour – will be useful as well as contact information for people who understand the building and the collections housed in it. Emergency responders will need to know the location of important items, and also the location of any hazardous materials.
  2. Records custodians should be prepared with emergency supplies and disaster recovery plans. These plans might include such things as an inventory of the records holdings along with established priorities, preauthorized authority to make decisions, and mutual aid agreements.
  3. Records custodians should back up essential and vital records at off site locations and and have Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) in place.
  4. Emergency responders can be involved in planning and training that will enable cultural heritage custodians to take actions in advance. For example, an assessment of how a building is likely to perform in an earthquake will help cultural heritage custodians with mitigation plans.

      The effectiveness of our ability to protect Utah’s cultural heritage depends on our ability to plan and work together. Perhaps the process of making plans is more important than the plan itself because in thinking and doing, we build alliances and get to know one another. Ongoing planning will keep our plans fresh and enable a more effective response in the event of a disaster.  Participants of the forum went away with specific action assignments. Continuing the discussion begun at this forum will make a big difference in cultural heritage custodians’ ability to respond to a disaster. Those who were unable to attend can still join this discussion. Participation ideas include:

1. Participate in The Great Utah Shake Out, the largest earthquake drill in Utah history. This statewide drill is planned for April 17, 2012, and anyone can register to participate.

2. Participate in the Essential Records Protection and Disaster Recovery workshop to be held at Utah State Archives on April 11, 2012. Register for workshop.

3. Get to know first responders in your area and begin your own conversation with them. Invite them to your building, ask them what you can do to help them to help you in the event of a disaster. Give them a tour and possibly even some treats. To learn more, click here.

4. Sign up for the Alliance for Response Listserv to receive email updates.

Everyone’s participation will make a difference.