If you are responsible for the management of public records in a North Carolina unit of government, you may want to consider writing a manual as a means of educating your colleagues on public records management. A records management manual for North Carolina public records could include:
- A copy of North Carolina’s public records law (N.C.G.S. 132), especially the definition of public records and citizens’ right of access to public records (N.C.G.S. 132-1); citizens’ right of inspection and examination (N.C.G.S. 132-6) and copying (N.C.G.S. 132-7); and the responsibility for records management (N.C.G.S. 132-8.1).
- Your relevant records retention and disposition schedule.
- Your office’s file plan for paper and electronic records.
- A records management best practices document with instructions for legal and audit holds, the handling of confidential information, and records destruction.
- Guidelines for electronic records and e-mail management. You can use our guidelines to get started:
- Global Shared Storage Guidelines
- Best Practices for File-Naming
- File Format Guidelines for Management and Long-Term Retention of Electronic Records
- E-mail as a Public Record in North Carolina: A Policy for Its Retention and Disposition
- Analyst Kyna Herzinger’s blogpost on Strategies for Email Retention
If you manage records for a state agency, include information for obtaining supplies (boxes, labels, and tape) and setting up transfers and deliveries with the State Records Center.
The purpose of a records management manual is “to provide a source of instruction and guidance for personnel who are responsible for creating, preparing, processing, storing, and disposing of records,” according to Robek, Brown, and Maedke in their book Information and Records Management.They also say a manual “should specify in detail the scope of the entire records management program of the organization, but also provide instructions for carrying out all aspects of the program.” A records management manual can cover many subjects and take many forms, so decide what your manual will be before you start writing it. The effort will be worth it!