FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a Record?

A record is defined as:

  • A record is information created, received and maintained as evidence, and as an asset by the College; or its faculty or staff, in pursuit of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. This information, regardless of physical format or characteristic, must be maintained to meet the administrative, fiscal, legal or historical needs of the College.

A non-record is defined as everything else.

To provide some typical (but by no means exhaustive) examples, the following would be considered records:

  • Fiscal data
  • Outgoing and incoming correspondence
  • Reports and statistical compilations
  • Student files
  • Minutes and other records of College meetings

By contrast, the following are examples of non-record material:

  • Magazines or newspapers
  • Non-substantive emails
  • Books or any other published information
  • Blank paper or other supplies
  • Purchased research or other data from outside sources
  • Newspaper clippings or article copy files

If you have any questions about a particular type of material, and whether it is considered a record of Dartmouth College business contact the Records Analyst.

What is a Retention Schedule?

A retention schedule is a document that identifies and describes an office's records, usually at the series level, and provides instructions for the retention and disposition of those records throughout their life cycle.  The retention schedule provides ongoing authorization for the transfer of records from offices to the Records Management Center, along with the destruction of obsolete records and the preservation of archival materials.

What is Disposition?

I received a notification about Disposition... Now what?

Disposition is the transfer of records to their final state; shred, transfer to Archives, or purge.

During each disposition round the Record Custodian will receive an electronic notification that details all material currently eligible for disposition. It will be sent with a return receipt attached, which is returned to Records Management to indicate the Records Custodian has read and been informed of the pending disposition.

Not all disposition is created equal, and not all disposition means "destroy." When the Records Custodian receives a notice of impending disposition this may include a variety of disposition method codes. For reference, here is a complete glossary.

  • Shred - Material under this method is processed under strict security. For paper records, destruction is accomplished via secure on-site shredding by a third party vendor who provides certificates of secure destruction. The shredded material is then recycled. Note that non-record material can also be shredded.  For digital records, they are deleted using technology ensuring they cannot be recovered.
  • Archives - This designation is for material to be processed into the permanent historical records of the College. Note that this processing is done by the College Archives. The Archives works with individual departments during their processing. Records of enduring legal, fiscal, administrative or historical value are retained. Records duplicating information found elsewhere may be discarded.
  • Purge – This is the process of identifying and removing unwanted materials from a larger body of materials.

How do I order empty Records Center boxes?

Boxes for your records can be ordered through the RMS Online System. Only boxes ordered directly from Records Management (and with the Records Management Box ID bar code already applied) can be used for sending records to storage.  The packing guidelines are printed on the side of each box.

How should I pack boxes being sent to the Records Center?

Pack only one record series in each box. If you have any questions about how best to separate your material, contact Records Management. Keeping the material separate allows material to be disposed based upon record series retention policies.

  • Pack material facing the front of the box. The front of the box is the smaller end with the bar code affixed to it. Files should be readable when viewed from this end.
  • Do not send Pendaflex hanging folders. Hanging folders eventually destroy the box, often within the first year of storage. If you must include Pendaflex, pack the files lengthwise in the box to avoid them hanging on the cardboard edges.
  • Do not put any markings on the box. Records Management is a secure facility. Boxes have no labels other than the computer numbers assigned. Any writings you put on the box must be taped over. This is done so that in the event of a security breach no material could be found by browsing the labels on the boxes.

What is a box transfer and how do I do one?

A Box Transfer is completed electronically using the RMS Online system when a department is sending physical records for storage at the Records Management Center.

How do I send material for shredding?

Boxes of confidential non-records for shredding will be picked up on the first Wednesday of every month. (There is never a pick-up scheduled for June.) There is no cost associated with this service. College Records Management pays for all the FO&M charges for this important service.

How do I request/return a file? & When do you make pickups/deliveries?

Requests and returns for files are completed electronically using the RMS Online system.

Records Management makes one delivery run each day, using drivers provided by Central Stores. Any requests made before 4:00pm will be delivered the next business day. Requests made after 4:00pm will be delivered in two business days.

What does a Records Custodian do?

The Records Custodian is a single individual, appointed by the department head, who best understands the record systems of the office and is able to make decisions regarding the retention and disposition of their records.

 The responsibilities of the Records Custodian:

  • The primary responsibility of the Records Custodian is to work closely with the Records Management in the determination of retention and disposition policies for all records. 
  • Work with the Records Analyst and other stakeholders in developing a departmental File Plan.  This is the primary instrument for classifying records, and is a critical component to any digital recordkeeping strategy.
  • Make decisions about who can access records. Each department will have varying needs regarding confidentiality and security. The Records Custodian is responsible for determining who (either within the department or institution-wide) should have access to departmental records.
    • NOTE: Records Management never releases information or material to parties outside the institution. Such inquiries are referred to appropriate College departments. 
  • Provide guidance to departmental personnel in all records related issues. 
  • Review material scheduled for disposition. Periodic disposition rounds will require the review of the Records Custodian to ensure that all material scheduled is no longer needed, and is eligible for disposition.