Informal Monash recordkeeping systems
Not all university recordkeeping systems are electronic or form part of a university wide system. Some recordkeeping systems are local and may revolve around a filing cabinet. Other areas may use a local database (e.g. MS Access) to manage certain university records, and this would be classified as a recordkeeping system as well
In an ideal world, all university records would be maintained in university wide recordkeeping systems, however, for a variety of reasons, this is not always possible. Therefore, while it might at first seem practical to store your records in a local recordkeeping system, it may be wise to ask yourself the following questions before you do so:
- Is this record already being stored somewhere else?
Check out the various types of university systems and the types of records kept in them. If the record you are planning to keep already exists as a master copy somewhere else, do you really need to double up and maintain a second copy? This is particularly relevant when you or your office is not the originator of the record. Sometimes, you might want to keep a duplicate copy of a record locally for informational purposes, however, if you choose to do this, do ensure that you make a note of this, on the record/file, etc so that others know this record does not need to be kept permanently and be vigilant about clearing out records like this, once their informational value has ceased.
- Are other staff members across the university, likely to want to see or use this record?
If you are managing records that you know (or suspect) others may be interested in accessing, either now or in the future, then it may be worth considering where and how you store these records. If the records are being stored locally and no one else outside yourself knows about the location of the records, what is going to happen to those records over time? Do you have a plan for them? If they are in a local database, will that database be maintained over time? If you think others might need the records over time, then it may be worth speaking to Records and Archives Services about some alternative solutions.
- Are you aware of various Privacy and FOI laws that apply to the University?
Monash values the privacy of every individual's personal information and is committed to the protection of personal information. It is important that local recordkeeping systems do not contain personal information that might, over time, put the university in breach of its privacy obligations. If in doubt, check out the Privacy at Monash website. Also Monash University is specified as an agency under the Freedom of Information Act, and therefore subject to its provisions, and depending on the nature of an FOI request, could include local recordkeeping systems. Additional information about FOI can be found on the Freedom of Information Monash Website.
- Am I familiar with relevant Records and Archives Services guidelines about creating a recordkeeping system?
Local recordkeeping systems should be created and maintained in line with Records and Archives Services’ recordkeeping guidelines as outlined in other sections of this website. If you are planning to manage records locally, you need to know what standards are used to title records, as well as understanding how long you need to keep certain records; when they can be destroyed, how they will be maintained, if they are eligible in the long term, to be transferred to the University Archives as well as knowing who can access the records over time and what security provisions they may require. It is always a good idea to get in touch with Records and Archives Services if you have questions about your local recordkeeping system (or any records question) as there may be other issues, unique to your situation, that are worth discussing.