What Are Some Questions Records Managers Often Hear?

The answers to these frequently asked records management questions can help you understand how records are kept in the Records Center (and should be kept in other records centers).

QUESTION: How can I decide what should be saved for the Archives and what should be thrown away?

ANSWER: Guidelines in "What To Keep? What To Toss?" have been prepared to assist both administrators and secretaries in knowing what records are of permanent historical value. In general, documents or correspondence that (1) deal with or explain policy, (2) give special counsel, (3) deal with administrative or personnel problems, or (4) illustrate the how or why of your office's functions are of permanent value.

QUESTION: We have some very old records and I feel I should go through them to condense and "weed" them before sending them to the Records Center, but I don't have time and I don't know what to take out and what to leave in.

ANSWER: A Records Center staff member can assist you in carrying out proper sorting procedures; however, it is better to transfer files the way they are than to "weed" without the proper background, possibly destroying potentially valuable records. Please call the Records Center, 5031 or 5024, if you have any questions or need help.

QUESTION: Shouldn't the head of the department go through the files before they are transferred to the Records Center?

ANSWER: Usually not. Those who have been working with the records may not have the objectivity to evaluate their future archival value. Professional archivists state that the selection of records for historical preservation must be handled by the archivist. The Archives, Statistics, and Research Committee also has guidelines for preservation of records.

QUESTION: Shouldn't we save out sensitive records?

ANSWER: No. The only criterion for "saving out" records is the frequency of need to refer to them. If you refer to them once a month or more do not transfer them to the Records Center. Sensitive records should be discussed with the Archivist and clearly marked or listed, but they must not be removed from their place in the file prior to transfer. The Records Center staff will remove them later. No other office has access to your records without your permission for at least ten years.Remember, all material produced in the line of work at the General Conference belongs to the organization. You do not have the freedom to hold back or destroy anything of this kind without prior authorization from the Archives, Statistics, and Research Committee.

QUESTION: What assurance do we have that private and/or sensitive materials will not fall into the wrong hands?

ANSWER: Until material is at least ten years old, it is kept in the Records Center. ONLY the office that placed it there will have access to it. Your records will receive the same care as those from Presidential or Secretariat.