What is a retention schedule?
A retention schedule is a document defining the retention period and disposition of the records created by an organization or academic unit. Retention schedules are designed to meet the requirements of:
- Federal statutes, laws, regulations, and legal decisions
- State laws
- MSU regulations and policies
The retention schedule will determine which records should be sent to University Archives & Historical Collections (UAHC), but the organizations and units will decide when these records are no longer active. In general, the records sent to UACH are significant and have enduring value.
Types of records include:
- Official correspondence, annual and summary reports, final grant reports, special reports, policy statements, and procedures
- Speeches, presentations, recorded performances, and events
- Faculty/staff meeting minutes and agendas
- Publications such as catalogs, newspaper, yearbooks, research magazines, newsletters, brochures, programs, and posters
- Films, recordings, tapes, and photographs, including samplings of material created as part of teaching programs
- Course syllabi, curriculum, and instruction notes
- Student organization records, such as minutes, publications, and photographs
Most records aren’t kept forever. Typically, less than 5 percent of a department’s records have enduring historical value. When a record is created, it goes through a life cycle of active use, infrequent use, inactive storage, and disposition. The key is to make records management part of an ongoing process so that records are stored and destroyed according to a retention schedule on a routine basis, not when space runs out or when staff retires but rather on a quarterly, semiannual, or annual basis. During the course of business, drafts and copies of documents are created as part of the normal work process. These should be destroyed as soon as they are no longer needed.