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Archives & Special Collections (ASC)

Records Management: Frequently Asked Questions

Information on how and for how long University of Louisville records should be retained.

Frequently Asked Questioned About University Records

  1. What are University records?

As a public agency, University of Louisville records are considered public records. KRS 171.410 gives a detailed definition, but to sum it up, they are any kind of documentation, regardless of format (paper or electronic), that is created or received in the process of University of Louisville business.

  1. How long are University records kept?

It depends on the record! Generally, convenience copies, drafts, and anything relating to short-term activities aren’t kept as long. Records relating to the purpose of the university, such as the conferral of degrees, are kept permanently, as are records relating to operations or major changes in the university’s policies and procedures. These are just a few examples—for more information, see the retention schedule.

  1. Why are records destroyed?

If we kept everything forever, it would pile up quickly! Plus, holding on to documents for longer than necessary can cause issues with retrieving what’s needed, or it can cause security problems.

  1. How do we decide how long records need to be kept?

The State Archives and Records Act (KRS 171.410-171.740) says that public agencies such as the university are to maintain an active, continuing program for records management. As part of our program, we use the State University Model retention schedule.

  1. What is a retention schedule?

A retention schedule is, simply put, a list of every kind of record created or received by an institution, and how long we need to keep them.

  1. Who approves retention schedules?

The State Libraries, Archives, and Records Commission approves proposed updates to the General Schedule for State Agencies, the General Schedule for Electronic and Related Records, and most importantly, the University Model retention schedule.

  1. Where can we find the approved retention schedule?

You can find the latest version of the State University Model retention schedule on the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives (KDLA) website here: State University Records Retention Schedule PDF.

  1. Can the retention schedule be changed?

Absolutely! If you think the retention schedule omitted a record group or doesn’t accurately reflect how you conduct business in your department, please reach out to We can work together to propose a revision or amendment to the State Libraries, Archives, and Records Commission.

  1. What happens if the schedule isn't followed?

Destroying records before their date of disposition, destroying permanent records, or destroying records that are subject to legal hold/e-discovery is unlawful under the terms of KRS 519.060 (1)(b). On the other hand, holding onto records longer than necessary can also cause problems with retrieval, storage, and security.

  1. What does disposition mean?

Disposition is the final administrative action taken with regards to records after they become inactive. For non-permanent records, this usually means destruction. For permanent records, this could mean transferring to another department, such as the University Archives!

  1. What is records appraisal and why does the University Archives appraise records?

Some records, such as photographs/recordings of university activities or records that fall outside the retention schedule, may not have permanent administrative value, but it’s very possible they will have historical value to future faculty, staff, and researchers. In this case, a member of the University Archives will assess them and identify if they warrant continued preservation in our collections. In accordance with our collection policy, we seek records documenting student life and faculty, staff, and alumni, especially those of underrepresented groups.

  1. I have an unanswered question about records management. Who can I ask for help?

Please reach out to for further assistance!


FAQ adapted from NARA FAQ (9/23/2020): Records Management FAQs