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Disposal of Records

Even the best planned and operated records program will fail miserably if it never gets rid of records. Simply keeping and storing away every record in short, the “out of sight, out of mind” version of records management is not a viable or responsible option. In order to find what you need and preserve what you need to keep, you have to eliminate records that no longer have any value. That is where disposal comes in.

Checks and Balances—Disposing of the records of a county office is not as simple as hauling them out to the trash when you get tired of them. Because these records can be of great importance to so many people, there are a number of procedural checks and balances to go through in order to lawfully dispose of records, whether the disposition is by destruction or transfer of the records to another institution. For many records, the official who has custody of the record, the county public records commission, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, and, for court records, a judge, all need to be involved in determining the final disposition of the record.

What Kind of Record Is It? —When trying to decide what to do with records, the first step is to identify them and classify them. The retention schedules will tell you how long a record needs to be kept.  Find the description in the schedule that matches the record you are considering and see what the table indicates. For disposition purposes, records will fall into one of three classes: working papers, temporary records, and permanent records. The procedures for disposing of each of these classes are different.