Records Management Policy

Purpose

This policy establishes a records management program for the Rockefeller Archive Center. Through this policy and its related Records Retention Schedule, the RAC affirms its commitment to best practices and transparency in its records keeping. The records management program ensures that the organization’s active and non-active records are properly captured, maintained, and made available to staff for appropriate business purposes, and it guides decision-making as to when and how organizational records are destroyed or transitioned to the RAC’s archival holdings. This policy also outlines the roles and responsibilities of the staff in support of these various activities.

Scope

This policy covers the internal records and external communications created by RAC staff across the organization, including Administrative, Operations, Information Technology, Archival, and Research & Education staff. The policy relates to records in both digital and analog formats and includes correspondence and email, routine documents and policies, social media and websites, as well as locally used electronic systems and applications. The policy does not apply to the records of organizations or the personal papers of individuals that are part of the RAC’s accessioned archival holdings.

Definitions

For staff to properly utilize the Records Management Policy and Records Retention Schedule, the following definitions may be helpful:

  • Record: A record is data or information that has a fixed structure and content and is created or received in the course of business. A record can be in various formats, including paper and electronic.

  • Official Record: A complete, final, and authorized version of a record as opposed to copies or drafts.

  • Working Copies: Rough draft materials that are subsequently finalized and maintained as part of the official record. These only need to be retained if the drafts show significant revisions that document the decision-making process within the official record.

  • Reference Copies: Duplicate copies of official records used by staff for reference or convenience purposes. These are considered temporary files and should be retained only for as long as needed. Copies kept for convenience or reference purposes are considered non-records.

  • Active Records: Records that are no longer used in the day-to-day course of business, but which may be preserved and occasionally used for legal, historical, or operational purposes. Often referenced less than once a month.

  • Permanent-Non-archival: Material created or received by the RAC in the conduct of business that is intended to be preserved as evidence of the functions/responsibilities of their creator for legal purposes, but not of enduring historical value. These files will be registered rather than accessioned.

  • Permanent-archival: Material created or received by the RAC in the conduct of business that is intended to be preserved because of the enduring historical value contained within the record. These records will follow RAC procedures for archival records and be accessioned, processed, and made available to researchers.

  • Permanent-archival, closed: Materials created or received by the RAC in the conduct of business that are intended to be preserved because of long-term enduring historical value to the institution but are to remain closed due to the sensitive nature of the records. These records may only be accessed by RAC staff with the permission of the RAC’s president. These files will be registered rather than accessioned.

  • Records Creator: The individual or group responsible for producing a particular record or set of records.

  • Records Holder: The individual or group who maintains the records. This can be the creator or any subsequent keeper of the record.

  • Records Retention Schedule: A comprehensive list of the various records series created by the RAC indicating for each the length of time the records are to be maintained and their disposition.

  • Transfers: As RAC records move through their lifecycle, some of them will be transferred to the RAC’s archives for permanent retention. Additionally, other documents may need to be permanently retained but are not archival or are required to be retained for a set amount of time. These files will be transferred to Collections Management using the Records Transfer Form and Inventory template.

Systems Used

The systems used by the Archive Center are important in records management maintenance and can impact and/or be impacted by the retention schedule. This policy will apply to any new system adopted by the RAC, regardless of whether it is specifically listed. At the time of this policy’s adoption, the primary systems in use by the RAC include:

  • Aeon: The Archive Center’s request and retrieval system, it is a proprietary software of Atlas systems which the Archive Center has customized for use. The system includes a web-based portal for researchers, donors and outside users, as well as a local instance available to RAC staff that allows for different tasks. Through Aeon researchers and staff can submit requests for archival and library materials, request duplications, track the status of requests, and create activities to track archival material used for events.

  • osTicket: An open source online ticketing system used by the RAC for researcher and donor requests. It allows staff to communicate with researchers and donors in such a way that the requests are tagged and searchable.

  • Asana: A web project management application designed to help organize, track, and manage projects and workflows.

  • ArchivesSpace: An open source collections management system used for managing and providing access to information about the archival collections. Through this system, the RAC can track locations, restrictions, inventories, and descriptions about collections.

  • RAC Documentation Site: an online site utilizing the RAC’s Github repository. It is the central platform for the documentation of the RAC and includes policies, guides, and technical documentation from all function areas of the organization

  • Shared Drives: A system of individual and multi-user drives set up on the RAC servers. Some multi-user drives are available to all staff members while other drives are specific to department areas and have limited access. Each staff member also has an individual drive (H drive) assessible only to that staff member.

  • Microsoft Teams: A communication platform that allows departments to chat, share files, set up meetings and collaborate remotely. It is integrated with other Microsoft systems such as Outlook and Word. At the RAC, each department has its own Team within the larger system.

The Records Management Policy is meant to work in conjunction with other RAC policies to ensure proper records creation, maintenance, and preservation throughout the record lifecycle for both RAC records as well as the records of its donor and depositor institutions and individuals. Related policies include:

  • Collection Policy: A collection policy determines the records an archive seeks to preserve and make available for research use by setting parameters around what the archive will and, just as importantly, will not collect.

  • Reappraisal Policy: An institution may need to reassess its records occasionally if there is a change to its mission and/or collection policy. Reappraisal is the process of reviewing materials in an archive to reassess their retention value and to determine if they no longer merit long term preservation and should be deaccessioned. The reappraisal policy sets forth the systematic and transparent process that the RAC uses to ensure consistency and accountability in the reappraisal process.

  • Deaccession Policy: Material that has been reappraised and deemed appropriate for removal from the RAC collections undergoes the process of deaccessioning. The Deaccession Policy sets forth the protocol for disposing of collections or portions of collections that will not remain at the RAC, whether the material is to be transferred, returned to the donor, or destroyed.

  • Procedures for the Destruction of Archival Holdings : Records that are not for permanent retention as well as select non-archival materials from archival collections that are destroyed by the RAC must follow the procedures set out in this policy in order to be shredded. The policy provides guidance to RAC staff regarding the procedures they must follow for various types of records to be destroyed.

  • Privacy Policy : The RAC values the protection of user privacy and is committed to creating transparency with its users and compliance with international GDPR standards regarding what personal information is being saved by the RAC and why. The Privacy Policy outlines the RAC’s approach to user information and compliance. [Note: Privacy Policy is currently under development]

Roles and Responsibilities

The Archive Center is responsible for:

  • Maintaining an efficient, standardized, and transparent records management practice across the institution.

  • Managing its records in accordance with current state and federal laws, the RAC Records Retention Schedule, and related policies.

  • Maintaining records storage conditions and systems that ensure the short and long-term maintenance of its records and that mitigate against possible, loss, theft, misuse, or accidental release of the records.

The Archive Center’s President is responsible for:

  • Being the administrative sponsor of the records management program.

  • Monitoring and ensuring overall organizational compliance with the program.

  • Providing the records management program with the necessary resources to accomplish its mission.

The Archive Center’s Leadership Team is responsible for:

  • Daily ownership of the Records Management Policy for their respective functional areas.

  • Ensuring that their respective staff are aware of their recordkeeping responsibilities.

  • Coordinating with the Records Manager and Collections Management Team on the transfer of appropriate records from their area, when applicable.

  • Allocating the necessary resources (people and time) to ensure compliance with the program.

  • Nominating team records liaisons who will undertake regular training and be a team’s primary contact for the records management program.

The Records Manager is responsible for:

  • The conduct of the day-to-day records management program.

  • Monitoring compliance with the Records Management Policy and Records Retention Schedule.

  • Making recommendations to the RAC’s President and Leadership for improvements or modifications of practices.

  • Coordinating with the Collections Management Team to ensure the proper transfer and disposal of RAC records in accordance with the Records Retention Schedule and related policies.

  • Revising and maintaining the Records Retention Schedule based on current law and best practice.

  • Coordinating records management training for staff.

  • Assisting Archive Center staff on the management of their records.

The Team Records Liaison is responsible for:

  • Collaborating with the Records Manager on the day-to-day compliance with the records management program.

  • Informing the Records Manager of any areas of compliance difficulty and make recommendations accordingly.

  • Serving as the point person for their team for records management-related questions and compliance issues.

The Archive Center staff is responsible for:

  • Following the Archive Center’s Records Management Policy and Records Retention Schedule to manage active and inactive records.

  • Appropriately transferring or disposing of records once the retention period has come to an end.

Training and Maintenance

Staff training is critical to the success of the Records Management Program established by this policy. The RAC’s Records Manager and Team Records Liaisons will coordinate with the RAC President and Leadership to design and implement a training program that will ensure that all staff members fully understand this policy and are adequately trained in proper records management procedures.

Review

It is expected that modifications will need to be made to the components of the records management program to account for changes in legal and operational requirements for records management at the RAC. The RAC is committed to periodically reviewing all aspects of the records management program to ensure that its policies continue to align with current laws, regulations, and best practices and to ensuring that the staff is able to comply with the program.

Contacts

If staff have questions or concerns regarding aspects of the Records Management Policy and Records Retention Schedule, they should contact either their Team Records Liaison or the Records Manager.