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Records Management at Notre Dame: The Basics

University Records

"University Records are recorded information created or received in the course of conducting University business and kept as evidence of such activity. This definition extends to records in all formats, including but not limited to e-mail, electronic and paper documents, film and print graphics, and audio and video recordings." [1] Every University Record, regardless of its media or format, must be managed in accordance with the University's records retention schedules.

The University retains ownership of, and responsibility for, information that Notre Dame or its agents use in the course of conducting University business. Individual Notre Dame employees do not own University Records. University Records must be filed separately from personal records and must remain with the office of employment upon an individual's departure from any given position. Principles of confidentiality, integrity, and availability must be applied consistently to all University Records. See the University's Information Security Policy for more detail.

Records Media

Media is the plural form of the word medium, the physical object on which information is stored. Paper is one example, but University Records exist in countless other media as well, including microfilm, video, photographs, and multiple varieties of electronic records. An electronic record is any record that contains machine-readable rather than human-readable information.  University Records exist electronically as emails, instant messages, static and dynamic websites, wikis, blogs, scanned images of paper documents, files produced with Microsoft Office or other software programs, digital photographs, audio/visual material, information stored in database systems like Banner or Xtender, and other formats.

All University Records, regardless of the media on which they are stored, are governed by records management procedures and records retention schedules. Proper organization, retention, preservation, and disposal of University Records require an ongoing commitment from each Notre Dame office. Every University office is responsible for the storage, maintenance, migration and destruction or transfer of its electronic records. If electronic records are transferred to the University Archives for permanent retention, the Archives then assumes responsibility for those electronic records. Please visit Tips and Training to learn more about electronic records management.

Active Records / Semi-Active Records / Inactive Records

University Records that are frequently consulted in the course of normal business operations are considered active records. Active records provide a detailed account of an office's activities, decisions and responsibilities. Proper maintenance of active files is essential for office efficiency, productivity, and accountability. Active records must, therefore, be organized in a coherent filing system.

A good filing system:

Active records may become semi-active if they are no longer regularly used or added to but are still needed for convenient access. Semi-active records must not be destroyed or transferred to the Archives until the time indicated on their records retention schedules. Such records can, however, be relocated to another filing area within the office or to an auxiliary storage space specifically designated for semi-active records.  The records will still be most readily accessible, but will not interfere with or occupy space needed for files that are used more frequently. Relocate a coherent set of semi-active files at one time, not just individual folders.

Records become inactive when an office no longer needs to refer to them on a frequent basis. Records retention schedules indicate when records become inactive and whether they should then be transferred to the Archives or destroyed. Inactive records must be managed according to established records retention schedules.

Records Retention Schedules

Records retention schedules instruct offices how to maintain specific series of records throughout their life cycle according to the legal, fiscal, administrative, and historical needs of the University.

General records retention schedules (also called general schedules) relate to records that are commonly encountered by offices throughout the University. General schedules apply to all University offices.

Office-specific records retention schedules (also called office-specific schedules) apply to a particular office unit and are developed by the University Archives in collaboration with individual offices. The Archivist for Records Management works with Records Coordinators and Records Contacts within the various divisions of the University to develop records retention schedules for each University office. Please visit Tips and Training for more information on the roles these individuals play. Once approved by the Office of General Counsel, office-specific records retention schedules remain in effect until formally amended or superseded.


This page was last updated December 14, 2021