Managing University Records


Records Management Overview

The following is a description of services that the University Archives and Records Management department offers. For more information, please contact records@columbia.edu.

Records Management

  • helps offices assess their records and record types for retention and disposition.
  • provides advice about file management, offsite storage and policy compliance.
  • identifies records of enduring historical value for transfer to the Archives.

We are here to help you manage your records: What records do you need to keep; how long do you need to keep them for; how to dispose of records; and which to transfer to the Archives.

University Archives

  • takes custody of inactive records with enduring historical value.
  • provides inventories, access to your files and/or research services.

**All administrative records received by the University Archives are available to the originating office, but are automatically restricted for a period of 25 years from the date of creation for outside researchers.**


What are records of enduring historical value?

  • Correspondence: official correspondence, including policy statements, announcements, memoranda at large.
  • Reports: from projects, initiatives, committees, task forces, working groups, etc. Final reports, reviews, proposals or recommendations; self-studies, strategic planning reports, accreditation records.
  • If available, the background research compiled to inform those working on the project: state of the question, background information, history of the question.
  • Meeting minutes, but also agendas and membership lists.

How to transfer files?

  • Paper records should be packed in standard file boxes (12" x 15" x 10") with each folder labeled. Please use descriptive names to help identify folders (subject, content, year). For more information, check out our Record Packing Tips.
  • Electronic records should similarly be organized in folders and each file should have a descriptive file name.  The digital files are stored in our “dark archives” for long-term preservation and access copies are available.  For more information, check out our Transferring Digital Records guidelines.

Records Management Resources

  • General Records Guidelines
    These guidelines serve as an introduction to records management and as a guide to existing policies and resources available on campus. These guidelines apply both to paper and electronic records.
  • Managing eFiles
    Most users are familiar with organizing file folders and filing cabinets in the paper world. Managing electronic records presents some different challenges. We have complied a list of best practices on how to organize electronic files in shared drives (folder systems), how to name files (naming conventions), and how to manage works in progress (version control).
  • Website Preservation
    As more and more publications go online, certain material is now only published on the University's website. Websites are university documents. Here is some information on how to create sites for preservation, how we archive website and how you can help in these preservation efforts.
  • Record Packing Tips
    Not all records need to be kept readily available at all times. When files become less active and are only accessed sporadically, these records can be kept in storage areas or sent to offsite storage. Here are some tips on how to pack your records for storage.
  • Transferring Digital Records to the University Archives
    Here are some strategies on how to prepare your records when you are ready to transfer records of enduring historical value to the University Archives.