About Records Management

University Records Management Program
Location: 4th Floor Joyner
Operating Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 - 5
Phone Number: 252-328-2238

What is Records Management

The Records Management function of the University Archives includes a system of

  • Maintenance
  • Preservation
  • Disposition

of university records, according to local, state and federal guidelines. The archivist coordinates unit record surveys and recommends methods of disposal, storage, or preservation of documents. Probably only 3% of the paper produced each year by the university is worthy of permanent preservation. The archivist works with staff to determine which materials can be safely destroyed and how long non-permanent records should be retained for reference and legal use.

The University Records Center houses records that need to be retained for a specified period of time but only rarely need to be consulted. Storing records in this manner reduces the need for expensive office space while retaining access and proper security for office files. Records are maintained for a period of years in accordance with unit retention schedules. Records of value are then transferred to the University Archives for permanent preservation.

There is no cost to the unit for this service. The records remain the property of the unit until transfer to the archives or destruction of the records takes place.

The archivist is also available to consult on records management issues such as filing systems, computerization, and microfilming.

What is a Records Retention & Disposition Schedule

A Records Retention & Disposition Schedule lists all records series created by a unit, indicates how long files are to be retained, if and when they are to be transferred to the University Records Center, or destroyed in the office. Commonly called records schedules, they provide administrative and support staff with the necessary information needed to administer unit records in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The records schedule must meet state and federal statutes related to individual records series.


  1. Audits. An up to date records schedule will be requested if your office is audited. Be prepared.
  2. Identify and preserve vital records. Vital records contain information necessary to establish or continue the operation of the university in the event of a disaster.
  3. Identifies records series that have historic or permanent value and makes provision for transferring these records to the University Archives at the end of their in-office life.
  4. Identify for destruction records that are no longer useful to the unit or the university.
  5. Helps insure efficient use of storage space within the unit.


  1. Litigation. All records created by the university are potential documentation in lawsuits. Keeping records beyond their useful lifespan or destroying documents too soon can be costly to the university.
  2. Excessive storage costs from keeping records beyond their useful lifespan.
  3. Inability to retrieve important documents when needed.
  4. Audits. An up to date records schedule will be requested if your office is audited. Be prepared.

Following a Records Schedule

The most common types of dispositions listed on a records schedule are:

  • Destroy in office when reference value ends OR after a set length of time
  • Transfer to the University Records Center after ___ years. Records will be retained for the office in the University Records Center for ___ more years and then destroyed.

The most common types of retentions listed on a records schedule are:

  • Retain in office permanently
  • Transfer to the University Records Center after ___ years. Records will be retained for the office in the University Records Center for ___ more years then transferred to the University Archives for review.
  • Transfer to the University Archives at the conclusion of each academic year for permanent retention.

Most disposition/retention instructions take effect at the end of the fiscal year, but some records are still kept on a calendar year. The records schedule should be consulted twice a year, in December and July.

At those times records may be destroyed within your unit or transferred to the University Records Center.

Program History

East Carolina University was chartered in 1907 and opened its doors in 1909, but it wasn't until 1980 that the first steps were taken to develop a records management program for the University's records. At that point the North Carolina Division of Archives and History began conducting inventory surveys of each department's records in order to write retention and disposition schedules. In April of 1982, an interim archivist was appointed and the massive undertaking of gaining administrative control over seventy-five years of records was begun.

The first major task to be completed was to tackle the main storage area of University records housed in the basement of Fleming Dormitory. This involved utilizing the labor of the students taking the Archives Administration course in the History Department at ECU to help sort out which material needed to be moved to the Records Center for permanent archiving or review and which material could be destroyed. Other University records were discovered in places such as campus building attics and closets. A fair amount of early records had been preserved by people with vision.

In February of 1983 the first permanent archivist was hired and the Records Management Program began moving forward more swiftly.

About Records Management - ECU

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