Share This


What defines a record?

NDCC 54-46-02 defines a record as "a document, book, paper, photograph, sound recording or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law in connection with the transaction of official business."

A record is anything that:

  • Your office created;
  • Your office acted on;
  • Your office receives it for action;
  • Your office is designated as the custodian of (i.e. record-holder);
  • Your office needs to document its decisions. 

Are emails considered records?

Email is a method of communication that is no different than a paper record.  

How long should emails be kept?

All WSC employees should follow their regular retention procedures for all records, including emails. In other words, continue to treat an email in accordance with the record series associated with its content.

What are the records management duties of copyholders?

Copy holders are individuals who are in possession of copies of records but are not the Office of Record Retention. They will dispose of their copies any time prior to the expiration of their retention period, in the method specified in the Records Retention Schedule, and with no need to include them in their annual Records Disposal Reports.  

When and how is a copyholder supposed to dispose of a convenience copy whose original is to be retained permanently?

The retention period for some record series is "PERM - Permanent," and, naturally, there is no disposal method specified. In that case, copyholders may dispose of their convenience copies at any time. Regarding the disposal method, they should err on the side of caution and use shredding - the most secure method possible.

Who is responsible for managing records and information?

Everyone employed at WSC.

How often do I need to review my records for disposal?


  • Review your records inventory.
  • Properly dispose of records in accordance with the disposal guidelines in the Records Retention Schedules used at WSC.  

Can I keep records longer than the published retention period?

No. Records must be managed in accordance with North Dakota state law.

What resources are available to answer questions?

If you have other questions, please contact your unit's records coordinator:

Shari Erdman Ph: (701) 774.4226 Text: (701) 595.7408 E-mail:  

How do I report disposal of records that I have in both electronic and paper form?

Once a record has been imaged electronically, the electronic version becomes the official record and should be tested for electronic integrity three months after imaging. At that time, the paper version becomes a convenience copy and is to be managed as such.

If a particular email constitutes a record and has been saved as a .pdf or .txt document, is it still considered an email if we receive an open records request for "email documents"?

Yes, an email record that is saved in another format is still considered an email record.  

At what time during the fiscal year should records disposal be conducted and reported?

The WSC Unit Records Coordinator sends out the current Records Retention Schedule to departments after Jan. 1st of every year. Reminder e-mails are sent monthly ending in May with a deadline of May 31st for departments to return their disposal report.  

What is the process for transferring records to the Archives?

Contact the WSC Unit Records Coordinator who will coordinate the transfer of paper and electronic records to Archives as per established procedure.   

How do I manage and dispose of my email records?

  • Determine record status (based on content)
    • Email system itself is not a record
  • Take appropriate action to organize - touch once:
    • Delete non-record emails or duplication 
      • i.e. jokes, notices that go to all employees, no business value (lunch invites)
  • Manage the messages that are records:
    • File and store (move to separate location, i.e. network, document management system, or print/file in traditional paper system)
    • Dispose of according to retention schedule
      • Email retention not a blanket statement (i.e. keep 1 year)  

Additional tips and recommendations on management of e-mail records can be found here.

How should we safeguard personally identifiable information, health information and financial information?

It is recommended that personally identifiable information (PII), health information and financial information must NEVER be:    

  • stored in an unprotected area and/or on an unprotected electronic device
  • shared without proper protection
  • shared with anyone without a legitimate need to know
  • sent or received in an email
  • required for online forms  

How do we manage notes of informal staff meetings?

Notes and agendas of informal staff meetings, such as check-ins, updates, discussions of workloads, etc., where no voting or departmental decisions are made, are not considered official minutes or agendas. Rather, they are informal notes - not records - and may be shredded when they are no longer needed.

What is the difference between "Information Governance" and "Records Management"?

Information governance is a consistent, logical framework comprised of policies, standards, procedures, roles and processes required to meet legal, regulatory, risk and business needs for the college. It provides guidance for how the institution and its employees handle information created, shared and received by the university. It includes records management, information security, data governance/classification, electronic discovery, risk management, privacy, storage, archiving and disposal of information.

Records management, one of the components of information governance, involves a set of policies, procedures and processes that require the logical, systematic control of the creation, distribution, use, maintenance/retention and disposition or archival of recorded information, regardless of format, which detail the activities of the institution. Records management's primary concern is the management of the college's records as well as the reduction or mitigation of risk associated with them.