Frequently Asked Questions

What is a records Life Cycle?

The records life cycle is a theoretical model that describes the various phases a record passes through during its use by an organization.

What kind of records are kept and for how long?

The answer depends on the function the record serves, the legal regulations regarding the record, and the administrative requirements the department needs.  Many records can be disposed of after they are no longer of use to the department.  Examples of such records can be seen here.  The general records retention schedule contains guidelines for many types of records that departments handle.

If there are specific records used by your department that you would like assistance determining retention periods and disposition, contact the University Archivist.

What happens to materials when no longer needed?

For records identified to be destroyed by the department, it is recommended that paper records without confidential information be recycled while paper records containing confidential information be shredded.  Contact the Recycle Center if you have a large number of papers to dispose of.

Digital records can be deleted by placing the files into the computer's Recycle Bin, right-clicking the bin, and selecting Empty Recycle Bin.  In some circumstances, it is still possible to recover files that have been deleted with this method.  If you have further questions regarding the full removal of digital records, contact the Office of Information Technology.

Depending on space availability, the University Archives may be able to take in and store inactive records that are still needed to meet retention requirements but are no longer necessary to store in the department for frequent use.  Upon the end of the retention period, Archives staff will contact your department to confirm the destruction of records.  When destruction has been confirmed, archives staff will arrange for the disposal of records and your department will receive a receipt of destruction noting the records have been disposed.

For permanent and inactive records to be transferred to Archives, see Transfer Instructions.

What is a public record?

As a public agency of Indiana, Indiana State University records are considered public records according to IC 5-14-3-2(m)(3)(B).  A public record is any writing, paper, report, study, map, photograph, book, card, tape recording, or other material that is created, received, retained, maintained, or filed by or with a public agency and which is generated on paper, paper substitutes, photographic media, chemically based media, magnetic or machine readable media, electronically stored data, or any other material, regardless of form or characteristics.

Indiana State University is required to comply to public records access requests by any person. Exceptions to public records access do exist and are detailed by IC 5-14-3-4. If you have questions whether a particular record being requested can be made available, contact ISU Legal Affairs.

Is a E-Mail a Public Record?

Yes. All e-mails sent and received by Indiana State accounts are considered public records. There is no single recommended retention period for e-mails since content may vary from e-mail to e-mail. Much like paper 'snail' mail, records received via e-mail should be organized and retained according to the contents of the mail. For example, a brief correspondence regarding availability for lunch has a much shorter retention period than a requested contract proposal that is due to be accepted. It is recommended that e-mails and attachments of permanent retention or longer than 6 months be saved to your local hard drive or departmental shared drive.

Records are increasingly digital, why not keep everything?

While technology and computers have definitively changed how the university operates, there are similar issues and concerns with paper records as well as unique problems to handle:

To keep records accessible, accurate, and authentic, active planning needs to take place to ensure that records can still be used years from now.