What is a Record?

In the course of conducting business your department likely produces and handles a great deal of material. However, not all of this material is considered a "record". Many people mistakenly assume that anything on paper or saved to your computer is a record and should be managed as such. As Records Management can only deal with actual institutional records, it is necessary to differentiate between record and non-record material.

A record is defined as:

  • Any recorded information generated or received in the course of conducting business, and which must be maintained to meet the fiscal, legal, historical, or administrative needs of the organization.

The "and" is critical in this definition. Any piece of information must meet both these criteria before it can be considered a record.

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

These are records regardless of format. They could be digital, paper, computer print-out, magnetic or optical disk, computer tape, tab cards, microfilm, audio/video recordings, or any other means of preserving information.

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 Manager or the Records Analyst.