Assets > Introduction

Assets (Records)

Offices and operations create records to support a wide variety of activities and needs. When records are no longer needed for current business, they must be handled in different ways to satisfy legal and administrative requirements, promote economy and efficiency, ensure that important decisions and activities are adequately documented, and fulfill the mission.

Some records must be kept for a short amount of time to confirm payments, write reports, prepare income tax returns, manage employees, verify compliance with contracts, comply with audits, and other reasons. Adherence to records retention guidelines mitigates legal risk.

Other records, such as drafts, duplicates, or routine memos, may be destroyed after they are no longer needed. By culling unnecessary, inactive records, offices can reclaim needed space and enhance retrieval in their filing systems. Certain records should be retained permanently in the Archives for historical documentation and research. Because offices understand their own activities and records best, they have a continuing responsibility for evaluating the proper disposition of their records, guided by general policies.

Information and communications technology offers considerable potential for raising the level of collections management. It has particular applications in cataloging, documentation, management and retrieval.


Council on Library and Information Resources, The Evidence in Hand: Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections, Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, November 2001

"The Evidence in Hand is worth reading by all records professionals because it seriously and rather evenhandedly evaluates the difficult question of the maintenance of originals that may be deteriorating or that have been reformatted to enhance their accessibility.  It starts with what has come to be the most challenging issue of the modern age of information, “With so much information produced, how do members of the research community — scholars and teachers, librarians and archivists, and academic officers who support their work — distinguish between what is of long-term value, what is ephemeral, and what of that ephemera is valuable for the preservation of a rich historical record?” (p. v).  This can be paraphrased as well for our purposes, as something like – With so many records produced, how do members of the records profession distinguish between what must be maintained for purposes such as evidence, organizational need and requirements, accountability, and to contribute to a societal historical record?

The report builds around criteria that the “library preservation community has agreed on” that mandates the preservation of “physical objects,” namely “age,” “evidential value,” “aesthetic value,” “scarcity,” “associational value,” “market value,” and “exhibition value” (p. 9).

The Evidence in Hand, Book Review by Cox, Richard J., School of Information Sciences Archival Studies, University of Pittsburgh.

Overly, Michael R.& Chanley T. Howell. Document Retention in the Electronic Workplace. Silver Spring, Maryland: Pike and Fischer, 2001 

Williams, Robert. Realizing the Need and Putting the Key Components in Place to 'Getting it Right' in Records Management, Cohasset/AIIM White Paper, Cohasset Associates

The Sedona Principles - Best Practices Recommendations
& Principles for Addressing Electronic Document Production,
The Sedona Conference, March 2003.

Vital Records and Records Disaster Mitigation and Recovery: An Instructional Guide, 1999 Web Edition, National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress.

Introduction to Archival Organization and Description: Access to Cultural Heritage, Getty Information Institute.


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