Records management is a systematic approach to the economical and effective management of the records produced by an organization. The McGill University Archives (MUA) is responsible for McGill University's Records Management, a program aimed at regulating the flow of administrative records and the overall efficient management of University records.
The principal tool of the program is MURRS (McGill University Records Retention Schedule), a compilation of rules guiding when and if records can be destroyed.
MURRS was produced by the MUA in 1985 in compliance with provincial legislation requiring public bodies to have a records retention schedule.
MURRS is updated annually by the MUA, in consultation with the University's Legal Services Office and records creators — the rules should reflect any University and legislative requirements around record-keeping but must also be a reasonable reflection of current campus record-keeping practices. Revisions to MURRS are submitted to the provincial government for approval.
MURRS lists records series (or types of records) kept by each University office, and provides information on the period (in years) and place (office of creation, University Archives) they should be retained. MURRS also designates record types that should be kept permanently or destroyed when no longer needed.
Destruction of University records
Destruction of McGill University records requires the joint written authorization of the University Archivist and the office responsible for the records. If your office destroys records locally, records.archives [at] mcgill.ca (contact the University Archives) for more information on ensuring your local practices are compliant with MURRS. Note that currently destruction services are free of charge to University offices (for records reflected in MURRS).
Retention period and storage location
The retention periods for a records are based on administrative, legal and historical value. The administrative value is based on the record's usefulness for the transaction of present or future administrative matters, legal value concerns record keeping requirements as set out by law and historical value reflects the record's long-term interest for the purposes of research regarding the University activities.
The frequency of consultation determines the record's storage location. When first created and for the period of time that the record is in constant use (active phase) it should be kept in the office where it was created or accumulated.
As the record ages and the usage declines it falls into a semi-active phase when it should be transferred to the MUA's records centre. Eventually, records of permanent value (5-10% of all records) are transferred to the MUA's permanent storage.
The University Archives welcomes feedback on MURRS from University offices, particularly if the existing rules do not reflect record-keeping practices and/or if new types of records created are not reflected in the rules. MURRS is a working document on record-keeping practices -- the input of University offices is essential to maintaining its currency. Please feel free to contact us at records.archives [at] mcgill.ca.
Additional services are available to University offices to help complement the application of MURRS. These include semi-active records storage and file retrieval service, a systematic destruction program for valueless (including confidential) records, and the design of filing or classification systems.
1. How much does it cost to use these records management services?
No charge to University Offices by the Archives. The only costs incurred by McGill units are for the purchase of records storage boxes and transportation costs to cover the transfer of records to the Archives.
2. Is it necessary for a McGill department, faculty, or office to follow any guidelines when transferring records to the University Archives?
Absolutely YES! It is in the interest of both parties if records transfer procedures are followed. First, it enables the department, faculty, or office to file its records in a correct manner; and, furthermore, it enables the University Archives to process the records faster.