About the University Records Center
On this page: Eligibility | Records Center Services | Records Center Storage | Transfer of Records (overview) | Preparing Records for Storage | Retrieving Records from Storage | Records Disposition | Transferring Archival Records
The University Records Center serves provides economical and convenient storage for inactive records that are still subject to retention requirements.
The Records Center stores two types of records:
- permanent (archival) records that must meet minimum retention requirements before being transferred to University Archives, and
- non-permanent (non-archival) records
All records are created in order to fulfill specific functions or as a product of specific activities, and all pass through the same process of creation, active use, and inactive use during their lives. Each record also has a required retention period associated with its initial function.
However, archival and non-archival records diverge at the end of their required retention periods:
- Archival records are transferred into the custody of University Archives and are preserved as part of Western's permanent historical record
- Non-archival records are almost always destroyed
Any university records can be stored in the University Records Center, provided the following are true:
- The records are public records identified on an approved records retention schedule
- The records' authorized form is non-digital (while digital records are subject to the same requirements as non-digital records, the Records Center does not provide a storage environment for inactive digital records, except for those that are archival)
- There records' retention requirement has not already been met
- if this is the case and the records are archival, then the records must be transferred directly to University Archives
Records Center staff will pick up and transport records that have been prepared for transfer to the Archives or Records Center.
Records Retrieval and Delivery to University Offices
The Records Center provides reference retrieval and delivery of records, usually within 24 hours of the request. Consult the separate record retrieval page for more.
Non-archival records stored in the Records Center are destroyed with the approval of Records Coordinators in accord with established records retention periods. Archival records are not destroyed, but are preserved in University Archives and become part of Western's historical record.
Records storage and retrieval services for semi-active and inactive scheduled records are provided by the Archives & Records Center to avoid the high costs associated with office storage and to make such records easily accessible.
Records Coordinator Responsibilities for Records in Storage
- Prepare the office's records for transfer to the Archives & Records Center and complete the Records Transmittal form
- Act as liaison with the Records Center to coordinate retrieval and refiling records from storage
- Update the office copy of Records Transmittal forms when records are destroyed from Records Center storage, or monitor records in storage using reports or online tools provided by the Records Center.
How to read and use retention schedules to transfer records to the Records Center:
Records Retention Schedules are an important tool to manage the records in your office. Retention Schedules list the types (records series) of records created in an office and throughout the University. See also "about retention schedules" for more information.
Records retention schedules tell you:
- The exact title of the records series
- How long each records series must be retained (retention period)
- When to begin counting the retention period (cut-off)
- How long the records should be kept in the office and in the Records Center
- The unique, identifying Disposition Authority Number assigned to the records series
- Whether the records have historical (archival) value and will be preserved indefinitely
Check to make sure the records being transferred are listed on an approved records retention schedule:
Make sure that the records you are transferring are listed on the University General Records Retention Schedule or your office records retention schedule. Look in the columns labeled "Records Series Title" and "Function/Purpose" to find the name and description of the records you are working with. If the records are not listed on either retention schedule, contact the University Archives & Records Center.
Records retention schedule definitions:
Once you have located the records on one of the retention schedules, take note of the cut-off column. (The cut-off is part of the retention period column on the General Schedule.) The cut-off is the date (for example, end of fiscal year) or event (termination of employment) that begins the retention period for the records series. Determine if the record series have reached their designated cut-off.
Reference the column(s) pertaining to the retention period. On your office retention schedule, the retention period is divided into three columns: office, Records Center, and total. The records must be retained for the total retention period. Contact the Records Center if you need to transfer records before the suggested office retention period has been reached.
If the records series is designated as "archival," or "selected files potentially archival," the records have enduring historical value and must be transferred to University Archives for preservation at the end of the specified retention period--or earlier if possible. Please box archival records separate from records with short-term retention periods.
TO STORE RECORDS AT THE ARCHIVES & RECORDS CENTER, AN OFFICE MUST EITHER HAVE AN APPROVED RECORDS RETENTION SCHEDULE ON FILE, OR USE THE UNIVERSITY'S GENERAL SCHEDULE.
Place Records in Standard Storage Boxes
Contact the Archives & Records Center office (650-3124) or e-mail to request standard storage boxes (10 x 12 x 15). Plan for three storage boxes per legal-size drawer and two boxes per each letter-size drawer.
Before preparing Records Transmittal information, organize records in boxes by records series, according to the Records Retention Schedule. Whenever possible, all records in a box should have the same disposition date. Do not place potentially archival records in the same box with records that will be destroyed at the end of their inactive retention period. Do not overfill boxes, or place hanging files in boxes. To ensure shelf clearance, the box lid must sit firmly on the rim of the box.
Organize records as follows: For example--Office A plans to send 20 boxes to the Records Center in July to include 12 record series. The boxes will be numbered 1 through 20 and will be listed on the Transmittal forms. Later in the year, Office A sends another shipment of six boxes. They will be numbered 1 through 6.
More than one records series may be placed in a box, if they share the same disposition date.
Prepare Records Transmittal Data using the web-based on-line form on the Archives & Records Center web page.
The web-based version of the Records Transmittal form was designed to provide campus offices with a user-friendly method to list records for transfer. After the Records Coordinator sends the Records Transmittal to the Records Center, labels will be prepared based on the information provided. Labels and a temporary copy of the Records Transmittal will then be sent to the Records Coordinator along with a scheduled pick-up date. After the records have been transported and shelved, a final copy of the Records Transmittal will be returned to the Records Coordinator. Allow for several days for small transfers, and a week or more for larger groups of records.
Click on the web-based Records Transmittal form and follow instructions below:
- Log into the form by selecting your office from the pull-down menu, entering the full name of the records coordinator as the user name, and ‘western’ as a password (password not case sensitive). Note: The records coordinator name may be different from the user name.
- Once logged in, choose a Records Series Title from one of the three options listed at the top. When you click on one of the options, you will be directed to the appropriate records retention schedule.
- Click on the circle to the left of the Records Series Title you need, and click the ‘Next’ button directly following that section.
- Then enter the Container Number, File Description (required), and Inclusive Dates of the records you are transferring. The File Description field is optional. All other fields are required. Click the ‘Next’ button.
- After reviewing the information you have submitted, either click the ‘Previous’ button to edit the information or the ‘Save’ button to save it.
- After saving the information, you have the option to enter another record, save the records you have submitted and add more at a later time, or submit a request for transfer. Another option is to view the records you have saved. You may do this by clicking “View Records” found on the left-hand side of the screen.
- When you are in the "View Records" screen, you may add records or choose "Save or Submit" to either save to add records later, or submit the information to the Archives & Records Center.
Notification to Records Coordinator
A copy of the transmittal form indicating the assigned accession number and shelf locations will be returned to the Records Coordinator to be retained in the office. Information from the transmittal forms will be needed when making future retrieval requests to the Records Center.
Coordination of Records Retrieval From Storage
The office of record retains access authority for stored records. Records Coordinators are responsible for files checked out from the Archives & Records Center and for their return.
Coordinators should maintain the office's system and paperwork for retrieval of records from storage.
Requests for retrieval or reference of records must be initiated or authorized by the Records Coordinator or designee. Requests received by noon will generally be delivered the following day, barring unforeseen delays caused by emergencies or illnesses. Records are not sent and should not be returned through campus mail.
The Records Coordinator supervises disposition of the office's records by applying the retention standards given on the office Records Retention Schedule or the General Records Retention Schedule.
NOTE: "Disposition" does not always mean "destruction."
In general, disposition may take the following forms:
- Disposal from the office
- Disposal of records held in storage by the Records Center
- Transfer of permanently valuable records to the University Archives
All disposition actions must be put on hold for any records that are subject to public records requests, reasonably foreseeable legal action, regulatory review, audit, or other formal actions requiring the affected records.
Disposal From the Office
Apply the state-approved retention standards on the Records Retention Schedule and/or the General Records Retention Schedule to identify and "cut-off" files which have fulfilled their minimum legal retention period.
Non-confidential/proprietary records that have fulfilled their minimum legal retention period may be placed in campus recycling receptacles.
Non-archival records with confidential information that have passed their required retention period (or that have no retention requirement because they are only reference copies/duplicates/drafts, etc.) must be shredded. When considering what constitutes "confidential information," please consider what laws might restrict access to the information. As a starting point, the state's Public Records Act identifies many records that are exempt from public disclosure (see Chapter 42.56 RCW). For example, records that contain personal information (see the description of these records in RCW 42.56.230) are exempt from disclosure.
Records series identified as "archival," "potentially archival" or "selected files potentially archival" must not be destroyed. Those records must be transferred directly to the University Archives.
Disposition of Records Held in Storage by the Records Center
The Archives & Records Center systematically identifies records eligible for destruction. When records held in storage by the Records Center have fulfilled their minimum legal retention period, the office of record is notified via a Records Disposition Notice forwarded to the Records Coordinator.
The Records Coordinator reviews the Records Disposition Notice and notifies the Archives & Records Center of any records requiring extended retention.
If the Records Coordinator agrees the records may be destroyed, the Records Coordinator signs the Records Disposition Notice and returns it to the Archives & Records Center as verification of receipt. The Records Coordinator deletes the records listed on the Disposition Notice from the office copy of the Transmittal form. After a minimum of five working days following notification of destruction eligibility, the records will be destroyed.
Consult the Records Retention Schedule for records which have fulfilled administrative requirements in the office, but which are identified on the schedule as "archival," "potentially archival," or "selected files potentially archival." These records have historical value and must be transferred to the University Archives for permanent preservation when retention periods in the office have been fulfilled. Use the standard transfer procedure for Archives & Records Center storage.