Part One of Electronic Records and Records Retention Training.

Provide standards for the efficient safeguarding of all the Union County's electronic records.

Records Retention and Electronic Records

Electronic Policy Purpose

The County continues to advance our paperless processes, the Electronic Document and Imaging policy ensures that any County digitized record or image stored in an electronic record is protected. 

This Training

This training will be presented in 2 parts. 

Part 1 Learning Objectives include: 

  1. Public Records
  2. Record Retention
  3. Naming Records for efficiency
  4. Metadata (items within a document that make them easy to search or retrieve)

Important to remember

All records produced by the County are retained for the period of time required by applicable local records retention and disposition schedules, regardless of format.  Any permanent records maintained in electronic form also exist as a paper or microfilm preservation in compliance with the DCR’s Human Readable Preservation Duplicates policy.

Please choose all that apply. What is the purpose of this policy?

  • Advance Union County's paperless process
  • Protect images and electronic records that have been stored
  • To replace existing records retention

What is the NCDCR?

The Division of Archives and Records is part of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDCR).

Archives and Records

The name “Archives and Records” reflects the dual role of the division:


The first role is to provide guidance concerning the preservation and management of government records to state, county, city and state university officials and is handled by the government records section. 

The second is managed by the “State Archives of NC”, and their responsibility is to too collect, preserve and provide public access to historically significant archival materials relating to North Carolina.

What is a Public Record?

The legal definition of a public record is:

"Public record" or "public records" shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions.

Public Record Continue

Public records include anything created in the course of public business regardless of format. This includes any type of electronic record, and could be a database, e-mail, documents, images, or Web sites.


What materials pertain to Public Record ?

  • All documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings and other pertinent material regarding transactions of public business with any North Carolina agency.
  • Agency decided documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films and sound recordings.
  • Only certain documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, or sound recordings.

Public Records pertaining to Electronic Records

Electronic records are public records and subject to the same laws as paper records

Can an agency choose what a public record is?


What is a records retention schedule?

This is an agency's policy that lists disposition schedules for the records within your agency.

Accessing Files

  • A department does not have to provide access to files that are hard to retrieve?

Records Retention

It is important that the agency make sure the retention schedule is updated as needed. This is especially important to remember when your office is changing what format the records are saved as. If your agency is moving from printing and filing records, to storing them digitally, in a database, or  documents, that change needs to be noted in your schedule.

Records Retention

Just like public records in any other format, electronic records must be managed according to a records retention schedule. Things to consider when planning an electronic record retention schedule:

1. Cost

2. Labor needed for maintenance

3. Adequate storage space


Records Retention schedules are:

  • State Wide
  • Agency Specific
  • Updated Periodically
  • All of the above

Records Retention

It is important to periodically check your electronic files to ensure the following:

1. They are still readable

2. That the technology to read the electronic files is current

Records Retention

  • Electronic Records accessibility
    Records should be periodically checked to make sure that files are still accessible.
  • A Document's lifecycle
    Managed according to your departments record retention schedule.

Records Retention

If there are any differences in how the general Union County schedule and program schedules instruct you to handle a record, always follow your agency-specific program schedule.

Naming of Electronic Records

Naming records correctly is a standard held over from managing paper records that is equally applicable, perhaps even more so, for electronic records.

Electronic files need clear and consistent file names, especially since they move more quickly and easily from person to person and from folder to folder.

Naming Electronic Records

As files circulate through email and across servers, descriptive and consistent naming practices can increase efficiency and keep you from losing files.

Naming Electronic Records

Keys for naming an electronic file:

1. Avoid using special characters in a file name

2. Use underscores instead of periods or spaces

3. Be brief

4. Be descriptive

5. Include dates in the file name

6. Version numbering helps organize drafts

7. Consistency is key

Consistency of Naming Electronic Records

The most important rule of file naming is be consistent. Some choices will need to be made about file naming that affects the entire office. Some examples include:

Where to include the date, what abbreviations to use, etc. Regardless of what the group decides, it is only effective if everyone follows the rules consistently.

Thinking back to the previous slide what are some keys to a good naming practices for your agency's electronic files?

Please choose all the keys to naming an electronic file that apply.

  • Consistency
  • Be descriptive
  • Be brief
  • Always use special characters and periods the more the better
  • Include dates in the file name


"Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use or manage an information resource. Metadata is often called data about data or information about information." - National Information Standards Organization


Metadata provides descriptive information to assist in managing the discovery and identification of data. 


Metadata can help provide information to help manage data and also describe data for the purpose of discovery and identification.

Metadata is sometimes called data about

  • Numbers
  • The Alphabet
  • Data

Keys to Metadata

1. Availability - metadata needs to be stored where it can be accessed and indexed so it can be found. Examples are a card catalog, table of contents, or journal logs.

2. Quality - metadata needs to be consistent quality so users know that it can be trusted. Example would be a nutritional label on packaged food. 

3. Persistence - metadata needs to be kept over time and be clearly understood. Example would be an agency's standardised list of terms.

4. Accuracy - Are the characteristics of your data correctly reflected? Example would be indicating the right title, right date etc. 

Conclusion of part one training

You have successfully completed the first section of the electronic policy training. You now should be familiar with the terms record retention, metadata and public records. You should have recognized that any record created within your department is subject to a records retention policy determined by the state and your records should follow a consistent naming convention that is clearly understood and easily found when needed.  

The next training will deal with the system already in place in Union County that will help your department in organizing your files, establishing metadata, and automating your department's retention schedule.