What is a Record?

Here at UNB there are many people who keep a variety of records. No, not your personal vinyl collection or your provincial potato eating record, we're not talking about those kinds of records. The records we're talking about are recorded information;anything created or received by the University in the conduct of its business and operations and maintained as evidence of activity.

There are a variety of different physical and electronic forms that records can take. This includes paper, electronic files, information housed in a database, microfilm, audio/visual recordings, handwritten notes, or photographs.

The actual format of the record isn't important; it is the content and the context in which they are created and used that determines how they will be used and treated as university records.

Send an e-mail of a decision or activity undertaken during University business? That is a record that would garner some importance.

Send a hilarious joke to the other people in the office? Not all that important.

Why is it important?

Keeping records is very important, there are a variety of benefits for keeping proper record management that range from:

  • Cost and time savings
  • Increased usable storage and work space
  • Easier to access records
  • Legal and regulatory compliance
  • Increased work efficiency
  • Protection of vital records

Records are vital assets which form an important part of UNB. They provide evidence of business activities, decision making and legal processes.

Information Life Cycle

From the moment records are created or received until the moment they are stored, deleted, or destroyed, records follow an information life cycle. This life cycle is a guiding principle for everyone involved in the handling of recorded information.

Record Creation

The first step is the creation of the record, whether written, typed, filmed or otherwise recorded.

Distribution & Usage

In the next phase of the cycle, the records are shared, referenced and used to complete the business activity in question. Typically, records are referenced frequently for a relatively brief period of time while the projects, events or matters are active. As time passes and as matters to which the records pertain are no longer of active interest, the reference activity decreases.

Storage & Maintenance

A record may be retained in semi-active storage or storage for an allocated period of time. After the record is no longer needed for timely availability, it is usually stored somewhere other than the immediate office area, where it is available for periodical reference if necessary. Many of the records which make it to this phase of semi-active have long-term fiscal, legal or historical requirements and must be maintained by the organization but are not needed for daily business interactions.

Retention & Disposition

The final two stages of the information life cycle involve the secure destruction (usually shredding) of records which have no further historical, fiscal or legal value or the records must be further retained by the university in long-term storage, e.g. archives. The rate at which a record moves through the phases of its life cycle is highly variable and depends on the information contained in the record itself. This is important when identifying a records current stage in the active life period and is ready for semi-active storage or destruction.

Records are a vital part of day to day activities at UNB, without them complete anarchy would take over the school. Well maybe not something that drastic, but without records important information may be lost.

So what exactly is the proper management of records? Feel free to carry on to the next topic, Records Management & Retention to find out.