Records Management and Road Maps

According to English broadcaster and natural historian David Attenborough, “No one will protect

what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” Especially for all the newly elected clerks, this little morsel of knowledge is extremely relevant to records management and the tenacity required to keep your records plan updated. To keep you from having to search, I have included the mainstay of the local code which explains the expectations of each County Clerk.

Local Gov’t Code Sec. 203.041:

”Each County Clerk must prepare and file with the Director and Librarian of the Texas State Library a records control schedule that lists the records of his or her office and how long the Clerk proposes to retain the records listed before disposing of them.

The schedule must list all records, by records series, created and maintained in the office and all records no longer created or received that the Texas State Library has determined must be retained permanently or for periods that have not yet expired at the time the Clerk prepares the schedule.

Schedules may be filed on an office-by-office or department-by-department basis. A County Clerk may, for instance, submit one schedule for administrative records, a second for court records, and a third for all other records.

The Clerk should prepare amendments to the records control schedule as needed to reflect new records created or received by the Clerk’s office or revisions to retention periods established in a records retention schedule issued by the State Library and Archives Commission.”

As overwhelming as this may sound, it can be a straightforward and organized task, especially if you enlist the help of an experienced partner like Data Preservation Solutions. The first step is to create an accurate inventory of all records – books, shucks, files, maps, microfilm, etc. Most likely, this list has already been compiled and only the more recently added records (and/or those that have met their expiration deadline) need to be updated. However, if the list is vague or incomplete, we can certainly help.

The first step is to identify the physical location of all records types. From there, more detailed information should be noted to establish what is required to be kept as a permanent record, what has an expiration date that has not yet been met and what can be disposed of.

Each book, for example, can be described by:

  • book type

  • date span

  • page count

  • page conditions

  • presence of Photostats

  • stitched or loose binding

  • original page sizes

  • digitally backed up or not

Once each record type has been accounted for and details have been noted, then a more detailed plan can be set forth (including storage, restoration, digitization, etc.). Not only does this assist with your compliance for the Texas State Library but it also allows you to budget for preservation work for the next several years (or more), if desired. You can think of it like a road map. If you don’t have a starting point, it’s impossible to establish a route to your final destination. Contact us if your road map needs some rerouting assistance.

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