University Records FAQ
Information about the University Archives and what we collect.
We collect records, not just old stuff. Records are anything that documents the activities of the university and the people within it. Records can be in any format, from paper to pdf files, or physical objects to email. If it documents what you do, it is a record and we would like to preserve it. Here are some examples of records we collect:
.pdf of University Council meeting minutes
Albany Student Press issue from 2015
.pst containing email correspondence and calendar
Paper records from the Office of the President
Class of 1954 Hat
CDs of preprints from Office of Communication and Marketing
Since we are a publicly-funded university, we are subject to New York State public records laws, namely New York State Arts and Cultural Affairs Law Section 57.05. Specifically, SUNY has a Records Retention and Disposition Schedule which outlines how long we must keep different types of records before they may be thrown away or disposed of. Certain records must legally be preserved permanently.
The purpose having a plan for our records is to limit potential legal liability while at the same time ensuring that valuable records are kept to ensure openness and accountability.
You can read the whole document here. Overall, it requires that, "In order to preserve records of historical and archival value, certain categories of records are to be retained permanently." It goes on to outline which types of records meet this distinction.
Basically, any record that "...documents a significant subject, or major policy-making or program-development process" must be kept permanently.
We prefer to accept records in the native format in which they were created. Today that often means digital files on your computer, but you probably create paper records as well. You have a database or content management system that need to be preserved? No problem, just Contact Us and let us know.
Both paper and digital bits have advantages and disadvantages for storing records. The original format also documents how you do what you do. We don't want you print out your digital records anymore that we want you to scan your paper records.
It depends! Do they document what you do and how you do it? Most likely, the answer is sometimes.
Most email messages are not records. Listserv messages, campus news updates, and random solicitations are not records. You have a better idea of which email messages document your contributions and activities than anyone else.
Absolutely! The university website is a very complex and ever-changing record. We have been preserving the entire university website for a couple years now. We crawl and store most of it weekly, and some of the most prominent pages are crawled daily for recent updates.
Even if you put some of you records online through the university website, it still may be more effective to transfer these records directly to the archives. The reason for this is that digital records like pdf files and Microsoft Office documents are easier to manage than our vast, sprawling web archive. Transferring records directly ensures that they are preserved in accordance with the SUNY Public Records Laws.
If you have records you would like to transfer, first please Contact Us. For paper records or digital files that were created on external media, like CDs, we will make arrangements to move the materials to our offices in the Science Library.
For digital records in basic file formats like .pdf, .docx, .doc, .xlsx, .jpg, .pst, etc., please contact the University Archivist to set up our internal digital transfer system. You will be provided a folder where you can place permanent records to ensure that they are preserved and meet state records laws.
If you have more complex digital systems like content management systems or databases, we can also work with you to make sure these are preserved so that you can continue to access them in the future.