Records Management Home

Old record books on a table, one with the word "Record" on it in fancy script.

Records Management

Providing university-wide records management support is a core function of University Archives and Records Management (UARM). UARM is part of Western Libraries Archives & Special Collections. 

State law and university policy mandate UARM to:

  • Ensure the preservation and accessibility of meaningful university records for as long as they are needed;
  • Ensure the authenticity, reliability, integrity, and usability of university records;
  • Establish effective university record-keeping practices in compliance with legal requirements, institutional policy, business needs, and community expectations.

Why Records Management?

University Records Management is mandated primarily by Chapter 40.14 RCW.  The basic tenets of this law that affect records management at Western are as follows:

  • All information created, received, used, or maintained by Western in carrying out its public mission is considered "public record" material.
  • The definition of a record is format neutral (it applies equally to all formats, digital or non-digital, regardless of the system in which they reside).
  • All public records must be accounted for and kept according to a retention schedule.
  • All retention schedules must be approved by the State Records Committee.
  • No public record may be destroyed except as governed by an approved retention schedule.

Western's obligations under RCW 40.14 are affirmed and further articulated in the university policy "Managing University Records."

RCW 40.14.040 further assigns responsibility for implementation of these tenets to a designated "Records Officer."  At Western, the University Archivist and Records Manager has this designation. The duties of the Records Officer as outlined in RCW 40.14.040 are as follows:

  1. Coordinate all aspects of the records management program.

  2. Inventory, or manage the inventory, of all public records at least once during a biennium for disposition scheduling and transfer action, in accordance with procedures prescribed by the state archivist and state records committee: PROVIDED, That essential records shall be inventoried and processed in accordance with chapter 40.10 RCW at least annually.

  3. Consult with any other personnel responsible for maintenance of specific records within his or her state organization regarding records retention and transfer recommendations.

  4. Analyze records inventory data, examine and compare divisional or unit inventories for duplication of records, and recommend to the state archivist and state records committee minimal retentions for all copies commensurate with legal, financial, and administrative needs.

  5. Approve all records inventory and destruction requests which are submitted to the state records committee.

  6. Review established records retention schedules at least annually to insure that they are complete and current.

  7. Exercise internal control over the acquisition of filming and file equipment.

These responsibilities are affirmed and further articulated in the university policy "Managing University Records."

Records Management Policy FAQ

In June 2018, the President's Cabinet approved a new university-wide policy regarding records management: POL-U4910.03 Managing University Records. This policy provides a framework for meeting existing statutory obligations to manage university records and incorporates many of the practices and structures already in place at WWU. Below are some frequently asked questions about this policy, and University Archives and Records Management's (UARM) answers to them.

For questions or concerns, please contact us.

This policy covers all university records and applies to all WWU employees. All university employees have a responsibility to create, maintain, and destroy records according to the rules outlined in this policy.

The definition of public record applies to information recorded on any media type. This includes information stored digitally or in the cloud. All that matters is that the information is retained or recorded by Western for the purpose of carrying out the University’s functions. This means that the retention and disposition requirements outlined in law and in this policy apply to your digital/electronic/virtual information, as well as your “traditional” paper records.

Additionally, even though your office's records might be stored in a system that is maintained by another university unit (e.g., central IT) or by a third-party vendor, if the records are created, used, maintained, or depended on by your office in carrying out its work, then your office is likely to be responsible for their management and ultimate disposition.

A recordkeeping unit is “any organizational entity consisting of one or more employees whose activities are purposeful and therefore accountable through the records it creates or with which it interacts.”

University Archives and Records Management developed the term “recordkeeping unit” for the University policy in order to differentiate what we would otherwise refer to as an “office” from the definitions of "office" used in other university policies.  However, since "recordkeeping unit" is technical and sometimes cumbersome, we will continue to use "office" as short-hand for any organizational unit that works together to fulfill a function (and therefore has records documenting it). This includes, but is not limited to, an office, department, program, center, division, institute, committee, or board.

University Archives and Records Management typically identifies offices either when we become aware of them or when someone in the office contacts us for assistance. Due to the often organic way of identifying unique offices at Western, there may be gaps in the offices we have identified. If you believe your office is not known to us, please contact us.

The recordkeeping unit authority is the individual who is organizationally or administratively responsible for a recordkeeping unit (that is, office). The recordkeeping unit authority defaults to the head of an office as identified in official University organizational charts. Generally, this will be a manager, director, dean, department chair, or vice president/provost.

To be consistent with other terms we use, as well as for simplicity’s sake, UARM will generally refer to these individuals as “office heads.”

While a recordkeeping unit authority/office head may oversee a unit with multiple sub-units reporting to it, in general, the office head will only be the office head for their immediate office. For example, the dean of a college will be the office head for their dean’s office (generally under the college’s name); however, department chairs will be the office head for the unique departments (sub-units).

The office head is ultimately accountable for the records that their office creates. As part of that, they are:

  • Copied in disposition notices that UARM might send to the office relating to records eligible for destruction;
  • Responsible for appointing records coordinators when necessary;
  • Recipients of communications from UARM relating to their office's stored records that are potentially subject to legal holds;
  • Copied in the statutorily-required annual review questionnaire of retention schedules and recordkeeping practices (sent out by UARM).

The records coordinator is appointed by the office head (see above) to act as a liaison with University Archives and Records Management (UARM) for that office. The records coordinator does not have ultimate responsibility for decisions made about recordkeeping in the office; they are simply the primary contact point for UARM with the office. The office head is still ultimately responsible for the office’s records. If appropriate, the office head may designate themselves as the records coordinator.

The records coordinator’s responsibilities are to work with UARM to:

  • Keep retention schedules up-to-date;
  • Ensure the office’s recordkeeping practices are in compliance with State law and University policy;
  • Coordinate the transfer and maintenance of records stored in the Records Center.

The records coordinator should be familiar with how records are created/maintained by the office, be able to convey questions to UARM regarding recordkeeping, as well as work with others in the office to answer any questions UARM may have about the office’s recordkeeping practices. The records coordinator does not necessarily need to be involved in all aspects of records creation and management in the office, but they should have a good grasp of the office’s workflows and records.

The recordkeeping unit authority/office head will need to contact University Archives and Records Management if there needs to be a change in records coordinator due to position/role or personnel changes.

A records system is any systematic way of managing records. It can be as simple as an individual’s file drawer. Or it can be a complex enterprise-wide information system, like Banner. It can mean a paper-based method of filing or a completely paperless information storage and retrieval system. All of these types of systems (and many more not described here) must be managed and comply with the requirements outlined in the policy.

Please note that while essentially all recorded information at Western falls under the definition of "public record," this does not mean that all information in these records can be disclosed to the public. RCW 42.56 and related case law provide the basic framework for what information can be disclosed to the public, but there are also other state and federal laws or rules that prevent information from being disclosed to the public.

For more information about public disclosure and privacy in relation to university records, consult the university's public records website and the university's privacy website.

Contact UARM

General Contact Information

University Archives

university.archives@wwu.edu; (360) 650-3124

Records Management

archives.recmgmt@wwu.edu(360) 650-3124

Individual Contacts

Tony Kurtz, he/him

University Archivist & Records Manager
kurtza@wwu.edu360-650-3114; AB 226

Sarah Nelson Smith

Lead Records Management Specialist
nelsons5@wwu.edu; 360-650-3154; AB 102

Eric Mastor

Archival Digitization Specialist
bubbazoo@wwu.edu(360) 650-7564; AB 217

Location

Goltz-Murray Archives Building

The Goltz-Murray Archives Building is located at 808 25th St., at the corner of Bill McDonald Parkway and 25th St., on the south end of the Western Washington University campus.

Free archives visitor parking is available in Lot 33G (across from main entrance), marked by signs on north side of the lot.

Organizational Parent

Western Libraries Archives & Special Collections