Welcome to the most unusual semester in history, Eagles! It’s September and the students are masked up, squeaky clean, and back on campus. We’re thrilled to have that energy back, and we’ve loved being able to welcome our UMW family safely back into Simpson Library.
My colleagues in Special Collections and the Digital Archiving Lab have already posted about all the work we’ve done in our department to help adjust to our “new normal” for the Fall. As the third element in Special Collections and University Archives, I’d like to take the opportunity to let you know what you can expect from Records Management. No matter what, you can still count on us to do our best to provide the UMW community with the service and support needed.
Primarily, it’s important that everyone knows that we are still here! While telework remains the preferred method for those faculty and staff who are able, I and my colleagues in the library are still hard at work adapting our systems and processes for maximum accessibility. Remote help for Records queries is only an email, phone call, or Zoom away. In addition to the assistance I’m happy to provide, the Library of Virginia offers many helpful resources for records custodians, freely available online.
With the majority of faculty and staff making the transition to remote work since March, we’ve all had to shift to embracing more electronic workflows. This is good news for the Records Management community! While it does present unique challenges, expanding electronic infrastructure and digital documents helps all of us as we continue to move into an increasingly more digital world.
The Library of Virginia sets the standards for us as a state institution, and they’ve implemented an electronic method for completing the Certificate of Records Destruction (RM-3). This form documents the proper destruction of public records at the end of their retention period and is the form I see the most (here’s an example). In the past, the form has required physical signatures and a hard copy getting mailed back and forth at least twice. The current process involves a fillable PDF and no envelopes in the mail! It’s designed as a simpler procedure that the multiple needed signatories can complete from anywhere.
The pandemic has also created time for some UMW folks to clean their offices. Often, this includes emptying out file cabinets. Sometimes, these file cabinets contain public records that are subject to specific disposition schedules. I’ve been fielding several questions from across campus about things that may or may not need saving. The short answer is that if it’s a public record, there is probably a schedule governing its disposition and we should discuss your next steps.
Remember: a public record is any recorded information used to transact university business, regardless of format.
If you’re a records custodian, or you think you might be, or maybe you’re not sure, or you have questions about whether what you have is a record, please feel free to consult LVA’s helpful flowchart or contact me and we can talk!