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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

University Records Management

Resources for records custodians and answers to questions about UMW's Records Management program

Welcome!

Welcome to the online home of University of Mary Washington’s Records Management program. We're here to help records custodians across the UMW community maintain, preserve, and make available public records through their life cycle.

What Is University Records Management?

What is University Records Management?

As a public institution, the University of Mary Washington is considered a state agency and subject to the Virginia Public Records Act (VPRA). UMW faculty and staff have both legal and practical responsibilities to create, manage, and ultimately dispose of records according to established retention and disposition policies. Housed within Special Collections & University Archives, our department provides records management assistance to anyone at UMW and can help with any issues that might arise such as identifying records, completing forms, or creating policy for your department.

What Is a University Record?

What is a University Record?

According to the VPRA § 42.1-77,

"Public record" or "record" means recorded information that documents a transaction or activity by or with any public officer, agency or employee of an agency. Regardless of physical form or characteristic, the recorded information is a public record if it is produced, collected, received or retained in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business. The medium upon which such information is recorded has no bearing on the determination of whether the recording is a public record.

For practical purposes, we can think of a University record as any recorded information used to transact university business. Whether it's handwritten, typed on a piece of paper, saved as an electronic document, recorded as audio or video, held in a database, or something else, if it concerns university business, it's likely a record.

Some examples may include (but are not limited to):

  • Invoices
  • Contracts and agreements
  • Patient records
  • Personnel files
  • Payroll documentation
  • Student grades and transcripts
  • Police incident reports
  • Research reports and supporting information
  • Syllabi
  • Athletic eligibility records
  • ...etc.

The flowchart below, developed by the Library of Virginia, can help you determine whether your document is a public record. If you have additional questions about whether or not an item is or is not a record, please contact Records Management.

Why Is Records Management Important?

Why is Records Management important?

Proper management of institutional records is critical for a number of reasons. A good Records Management program... 

  • Enhances information retrieval, making it easier to locate important materials in less time and reducing overall operating costs
  • Safeguards privacy, ensuring controlled access to secure information and disposal of confidential documents in a timely and proper fashion
  • Ensures compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, where non-compliance may lead to litigation and/or financial repercussions against the institution
  • Protects the institution's intellectual property 
  • Preserves the University’s history