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Records Retention and Administration Guidelines

Records Retention

University Records are considered records of the State of Illinois regardless of format (paper, digital, etc.) and must be managed in accordance with the State Records Act. Below are some general guidelines related to records management. A formal policy is currently in development.

  • Northern Illinois University’s records management is governed by the Illinois State Records Act.
    • All records must be retained in accordance with the established retention guidelines below.
    • Permission must be obtained from the State of Illinois before any record can be destroyed.
  • Each employee is responsible for complying with the State Records Act when it comes to the public records within their possession and control.
  • A record means, in general, includes but is not limited to: any (paper or electronic): books, paper, map, photograph, digitized electronic material, or other official documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, in relation to the transaction of public business.
    • Examples would be but are not limited to, business emails, personnel files, general correspondence (including emails), minutes of meetings, purchase orders, budget documents, class rosters, etc.
  • A non-record, in general, includes but is not limited to: personal emails (no NIU business at all), extra copies of documents preserved only for the convenience of reference, messages relating to reminders to employees about scheduled meetings or appointments, most telephone messages (whether in paper, voicemail, or other electronic form), announcements of office events, recipient copies of announcements of university sponsored events, etc.
    • These messages are not intended to formalize or perpetuate knowledge and do not set policy, establish guidelines or procedures, certify a transaction or become a receipt.
    • If the record has a bearing on actions taken or not taken then it would be classified as a record under the State Records Act.
  • A Records Retention Schedule defines the record and the associated retention requirements. If the records are not included in your department’s records retention schedule, they cannot be destroyed. A records series must be established and approved by submitting to the Records Officer for State final approval.
  • All university business communications should be done using official University resources (i.e. please use NIU email to conduct university business not personal email).

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