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records management guidelines

The guidelines below are intended to aid campus units in the management of administrative records. These guidelines augment the university's General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. If you have any questions regarding the guidelines detailed below, please contact us.

The guidelines are divided into the following sections:

Permanent records
Email retention
Social media use

Additionally, University Archives & Records Management Services has prepared the following documents:

UNC policies on student, medical, or personnel records are linked below

permanent records for university departments

University Archives is the repository for all records of enduring historical value from all university administrative and academic units. The permanent retention of university records is governed by North Carolina’s Public Records Law and Archives and History Act and the university's records retention schedule. The following are the common types of records that must be retained permanently by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the administrative offices of the UNC System and transferred to University Archives.

Office Files:

  • Executive Correspondence, including email:
    • Whether correspondence can be considered a permanent record depends on the content of the message. Does the message show evidence of action, outline procedure, or issue policy?
    • Messages that merely confirm appointments or are personal messages generally do not meet the standards to be considered a permanent record.
  • Institutional Accreditation Records (see General Schedule series 1.2)
  • Professional Credentialing Records (see General Schedule series 14.24)
  • Lectures and Lecture Series Records (see General Schedule series 1.23)
  • Staff Meeting Records (see General Schedule series 1.28, 1.45)
  • Organizational Charts (see General Schedule series 1.30)
  • Reports (administrative):
    • Specifically annual reports, although other periodic or summary reports are considered permanent if containing information not reflected in annual reports
  • Policy and Procedures Documents:
    • Including handbooks and organizational charts (see General Schedule series 1.33)
  • Cooperative Program Records: inter-institutional program records
  • Special Event Records (see General Schedule series 1.3)
  • Public Relations Records, including news releases (see General Schedule series 1.26)
  • Visiting Scholar/Scholar in Residence Programs (see General Schedule series 1.54)

Financial Records:

  • Official Budget Reports (see General Schedule series 5.11)

Board, Committee, Council, and Task Force Records:

  • Advisory Board Records (see General Schedule series 1.5)
  • Agendas, minutes, reports, and correspondence (see General Schedule series 1.12)
    • Note: When preparing records for transfer, consider copy of record versus reference copies. Was your office an active participant in the committee’s activities or a representative monitoring them?

Personnel Records:

  • Faculty Curricula Vitae and Resumes (see General Schedule series 12.29)

Curriculum and Instruction Records:

  • Course and Program Development Records (see General Schedule series 1.1, 2.3, 2.5, 2.8)

Grant Records:

  • Grant Proposals and Awards (see General Schedule series 6.7, 6.8, 6.14)

Audio-visual Materials:

  • Photographs, films, videos, and sound recordings specifically related to a department's activities and personnel, such as headshots, lectures, symposiums, faculty and student mixers, staff parties, etc.

The above is not an exhaustive list. Depending on the functions that occur within your department or unit, additional specific records and record types must be retained permanently. Please refer to the General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule regarding any materials not listed in the outline above that you think might be permanent. Your department or unit may use different names for the documents, and they may be formally or informally produced; nevertheless, they fall within the scope of University Archives' acquisition and preservation program. Consult University Archives & Records Management Services with any questions.

All permanent records must be transferred to University Archives after the time period specified in the records retention schedule. Please consult with University Archives & Records Management Services regarding maintaining and transferring electronic records.

Non-permanent records must be disposed of in accordance with the records retention schedule. University Archives & Records Management Services can answer questions about the management of non-permanent records.

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email retention

University departments use email in the daily conduct of business both on and off campus. Many campus units use email to transmit reports, meeting minutes, drafts of policies, official memoranda, and other information without realizing that their emails are public records, as defined by North Carolina Public Records Law (G.S. 132). If an email message is determined to be a record, then it must be maintained within a recordkeeping system and should be retained or deleted according to the provisions of the General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule.

Email as a public record

  • Email messages that are sent or received in the course of university business are public records.
  • Non-record email messages should be deleted as soon as possible. Some examples:
    • Personal email
    • Junk email
    • Announcements of a general nature

Email message filing and retention

  • The responsibility for filing email messages lies with each employee.
  • Each university unit is responsible for the development of internal procedures regarding the management of email. UARMS staff is available to provide guidance in this area.
  • Email messages need to be filed accordingly with other records within the unit, in a manner both simple and logical. Please contact University Archives & Records Management Services staff for further guidance in developing a filing system.

Managing transient, non-permanent, and permanent emails

The following decision trees are intended to aid to campus units in the appraisal and disposition of email messages as permanent or non-permanent records. Please contact us with any questions.

Non-permanent email management cheat sheet

While email messages and other correspondence are often too varied to apply blanket policy, a

are available to assist campus units in the disposition of email and other forms of correspondence. It is important to note that this guide is not legally binding. University Archives & Records Management staff welcomes any questions regarding the retention of email.

Unacceptable filing practices with regard to email

  • Filing documents and email messages on a user's local drive. Local drives are often not backed up and are therefore more susceptible to loss.
  • Filing or storing email content in any format that lacks its associated metadata (i.e., sender, recipient, date, subject, and other characteristics of an email message).
  • Filing email attachments separate from their associated program records.
  • Offline back-up systems are not acceptable means of managing email messages. If email system backups are retained on system backups, they are liable to legal discovery.

Further guidance

  • The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) has several resources on email as public records.
  • The Managing the Digital University Desktop (MDUD) project developed broad guidelines for email management.

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social media use


In the course of operation at the university, employees routinely create public records through their use of social media websites and software. These guidelines refers to all social media sites run by employees or units within the university in the course of conducting university business, including outreach. All social media content (whether posts or comments by staff or the public) created in the course of business are public records and must be managed in compliance with state and federal regulations in order to maintain institutional history and legal integrity.

The purpose of these guideliens is to inform employees of the university using social media in the course of conducting university business of their responsibilities in maintaining and preserving these public records so as to ensure university compliance with appropriate laws and regulations and to determine the use of social media in a way that ensures transparency, maintains network security, and appropriately manages agency web content.

If you have any questions about these guidelines or need assistance transferring social media content to University Archives, please contact University Archives & Records Management Services at recman@unc.edu.


This social media guidelines shall apply to all employees, faculty, and staff of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and to all social media content created, sent, or received in the conduct of university business, regardless of mode or system, and regardless of the software or platform on which the content is created and/or maintained.


User—any University of North Carolina employee using social media in the course of conducting university business.

Social Media—any form of electronic communication through which the User creates online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. Examples include blogs such as WordPress and Blogger; social-networking sites such as Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn; image- and video-hosting sites such as Flickr and YouTube.

Notifying University Archives & Records Management Services

Upon creating a new social media account, page, or presence for any university entity, or in regards to any previously created accounts, please email University Archives & Records Management Services at recman@unc.edu and include the follow information in your message:

  • Purpose of the social media account
  • Web address of the social media account
  • Names of all account administrators
  • Email addresses for account administrators
  • Onyen of all account administrators

Notifying University Archives & Records Management Services of all social media efforts helps insure that the history of the university’s social media presence is preserved as part of the historic record and managed appropriately.

Guidelines for Using Social Media

According to the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, in their publication, Best Practices for State Agency Social Media Usage in North Carolina, the User "should be aware that these types of communications are considered public records and, consequently, must be kept for a certain period of time in compliance with the public records law." The General Records Retention and Disposition Schedule for the university should be consulted when making changes to social media sites.


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