We received great public records questions from local governments this fall, and now share them for your benefit. The last post had questions regarding retention; this post focuses on questions about electronic records.
My county is missing some older minute books. I’m pretty sure that the State Archives microfilmed the books. Can I obtain electronic copies of the microfilmed minute books?
Definitely! Our Imaging Unit can convert microfilmed images to .tiff files and burn the .tiff files to a DVD. The cost is $4.00 for each reel, plus $1.00 for each DVD produced from the reel. On average, one microfilm reel converts to 2 DVDs. To order electronic copies of your microfilmed minutes, contact Chris Meekins, Imaging Unit Head and Archivist. The Imaging Unit will send you an invoice. Please be aware that .tiff files are not text-searchable.
What are your prices for the conversion of print records to microfilm?
We provide microfilming of minutes of major decision-making boards and commissions for counties and municipalities. We also film records of adoptions for county social services agencies. Once those records are microfilmed, we store the silver-halide original in our security vault. The fees for our duplication services are posted on our website. Specifically, the rates for conversion of paper records to microfilm are:
Production of original 16mm x 100′ microfilm: $16.00 per reel
Production of original 35mm x 100′ microfilm: $40.00 per reel
Creation of a duplicate diazo (use) reel of microfilm (35mm): $12.00 per reel
Creation of a duplicate diazo (use) reel of microfilm (16mm): $10.00 per reel
Each reel stores approximately 2,400 page images.
We have 1,200 boxes of paper records on shelves in our warehouse. We want to convert these paper records to digital records. Where do we begin?
Begin by asking yourself, “Do we really need to scan our paper records?” If the paper records are nearing the end of their retention; are rarely used; and/or are not rapidly outgrowing their physical space, they probably do not require imaging. Review the records with the approved records retention and disposition schedule in hand. Destroy records already at the end of their retention periods. Note records that must be retained, but that are not worth the cost of imaging.
Then, identify your paper records that are frequently consulted; are needed for collaborative projects or multi-step workflows; and/or must be retrieved quickly in support of customer service. These paper records are good candidates for imaging. Assess the benefits of imaging these records versus the costs of hardware, software, labor, training, and quality assurance. If the benefits exceed the costs, you can move to the next phase, the selection of a technology partner.
If our county has a public record on paper and we scan it, do we have to keep the paper version of the record?
Records with the disposition instruction “retain in office permanently” can be scanned, but the paper versions must be kept after scanning. According to G.S. §132-8.2, offices with permanent records must maintain a preservation duplicate of the permanent records. So while the records can be scanned, the Department of Cultural Resources’ policy is that the office should retain either a paper or microfilm copy of the original records as human-readable preservation duplicates. Our Human-Readable Preservation Duplicates policy outlines the characteristics and appropriate formats for human-readable preservation duplicates.
However, if the paper records do not have permanent retention, and are to be scanned and destroyed before the end of their retention period (so that the scanned images become the “official” records), then, no. However, the paper versions can be destroyed after scanning only with the approval of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. First, your county should have an approved electronic records and imaging policy. This policy tells us that your county is ensuring your electronic records are admissible, accessible, and authentic. Then, your county should complete our Request for Disposal of Original Records Duplicated by Electronic Means form. This form lets you list the specific paper records being scanned and destroyed. Send or email this form to the State Archives. After the Assistant State Records Administrator approves the form, we will return the form to you. Then your office can begin the scanning and destruction of the paper versions.
Another county asked about rabies vaccination certificates. Can the county destroy paper certificates after Animal Control enters information from those certificates into its software? According to the County Management Records Retention and Disposition Schedule, rabies vaccination certificates sent to county animal control by area veterinarians can be destroyed after 3 years.
Entering information from the certificates into software differs from scanning. A certificate contains information, such as the vaccinator’s signature, that cannot be captured by data entry into a software program. Thus, the certificates must be scanned or retained in paper. With our approval as described above, you could enter the information from the certificates into the software, scan the vaccination certificates, and then destroy the paper certificates after scanning.