Returning Charged Out Records

Case One: File used for reference only, no new material added

Case Two: Significant new material added to the file.

Case Three: File to be retained permanently and integrated into current filing system.

On the surface, returning records ("refiles") would seem a simple task. But in actuality, there are several factors that complicate how a record should be handled upon return. Three separate cases are examined below.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Please do not send refiles intermingled with new files! Occasionally Records Management receives a set of material that is assumed to be new files, but upon cataloging it is found that some of the material is actually files retrieved from previous sets. This is problematic, for if this is not caught in the cataloging process the system will then show the same file as existing in two separate boxes! Due to the volumes of material Records Management processes, looking at the front of each folder for cataloging barcodes is often not feasible; so this mistake can easily slip through. For this reason you should not send refiles intermingled in more current material. If you need to integrate a requested file into your current filing system, see the procedures below.

Case One: File used for reference only, no new material added.

This file can be returned to Records Management. It will be refiled into it's proper location and become available for future requests. Use the Return Boxes and Files form in the RMS On-Line System.  Simply select the "Return Boxes and Files" selection from the "I Want To..." menu.  The department's drivers will pick up the record on the next available delivery run.

Case Two: Significant new material added to the file.

This is where the refiling process becomes more complicated. An example may be helpful to illustrate the issues.

Imagine a set of records covering dates from 2005-2011. This record series has a five year retention period, meaning it will be disposed in 2016. However, in 2013 a file is requested. In the office more material is added, including material generated in the current year (2013). If this file was returned and refiled, it would then be disposed along with the rest of that set in 2016. However, the new material added to the file in question would NOT be five years old, and would thus be disposed before it's proper time.

The simplest way to avoid this situation is to avoid filing new material into older, stored folders. Instead, it should be filed into your current filing system (even if a new folder must be created), and sent to Records Management at the proper time. This ensures the integrity and consistency of your material. However, should you find it necessary to file significant new material, into an older folder, the best solution is to permanently migrate the entire file into your current system. See Case Three below for information on how that can be done.

A far less desirable option is to change the "ending date" information for that box in the Records Management system to match the more recent material. This is less desirable, for it usually means keeping an entire box longer than is necessary.

In some cases the added material may not be significant, and thus the "early disposition" of the file is of no great consequence. In these cases it may not be necessary to migrate the file forward. The judgment on this issue is left to the department. If you are unsure, contact the Records Manager or the Records Analyst for guidance.

If you decide to send the file back to Records Management, use the RMS On-Line System.  Simply select the "Return Boxes and Files" selection from the "I Want To..." menu.


Case Three: File to be retained permanently and integrated into current filing system.

On occasion a file will "become active" and need to be retained by the office. This can happen because significant new material has been added (see Case Two above), or the file is of such use that it should logically be retained in the office.

Should that be the case, the following steps should be taken.

  • E-mail Records Management with the information on the folder you are to be migrating forward into your current records. Be sure to include the File ID number (underneath the bar code), as well as the file title. Mention that this file will be retained permanently in your office. Records Management will then delete the file from the current accession, and it will no longer appear in searches, or on new reports generated for your department.
  • Cross out, with a thick black marker, the bar code information on the front of the file.
  • Make a note such as this on the front of the file: "Record migrated forward into current filing system, and Records Management notified, 1/18/1999, by Jane Doe". Please note that this last step is vital, for otherwise Records Management may assume (when that file again comes down for cataloging) that a record should be refiled, despite the crossed off bar code.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Please do not use Hinman Mail to return a folder to Records Management! The department's drivers keep a record of every delivery made, including dates and times. This is a level of audit detail that simply cannot be maintained via Hinman mail. Should a record be lost during transit in the Hinman mail system, there would be no way to trace it's whereabouts. For this reason, all record deliveries and returns should be handled directly by Records Management.
NOTE: In order to ensure proper tracking, Records Management's drivers have strict instructions not to pick up any files from an office not shown on their pickup /delivery task list. If asked by office staff to pick up material from an office not show on this list, they will refuse. In order to properly return material, always use the "Return Boxes and Files" form on the RMS On-Line System.


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