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Special Collections & Archives

Glossary of Terms

Active Records

Records that relate to current business matters and are required to carry out the daily activities of an office. As a general rule of thumb, active records are referred to at least once a month.


The process of evaluating the core functions of a specific office to determine which records need to be retained and for how long to meet business needs and accountability requirements


Ensuring that the requirements of laws, regulations, and university policies are met in terms of the management of information


The act of moving a set of records from one format or system into another to ensure continued reliability and usability

Disaster Plan

A written procedure detailing the specific response activities for your office in the case of fire, flood etc. to minimize the loss of institutional data and disruption of university business. Also known as a business continuity plan


Refers to the removal of records from your office. Does not necessarily refer to record destruction, but rather the various processes of records retention, whether offsite storage, conversion, or destruction

Inactive Records

Records that are no longer needed for the daily activities of an office but still have an ongoing value. As a rule of thumb, inactive records are referred to less than once a month, and are ideal candidates for offsite storage.

Obsolete Records

Inactive records that have no continuing legal, fiscal, administrative or archival value. Destruction of obsolete records is highly recommended.

Records Retention Schedule (Departmental)

A systematic listing of records maintained by a specific office that document its functions, operations and activities. Provides descriptions of each records series and how long they are to be kept. Certificate of Disposal required.

Records Retention Schedule (General)

A listing of various types of routine, administrative records common to university offices. Routine administrative records are to be discarded when no longer useful. Certificate of Disposal not required.

Records Series

A set of records of a specific office grouped together because of a similar use, activity or function. Examples include minutes, publications, annual reports, correspondence, etc.

Vital Records

Irreplaceable operational records without which an office could not continue to function. Examples include student records, accounts payable/receivable, personnel records etc.