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Retention Guidelines for Offices and Departments

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This section provides a retention schedule for the various records created in the daily operation of offices and departments.

To practice good record keeping, you are encouraged to use the guidelines reported below for the retention of documents in the various divisions, and the office of the President of Oberlin College. A pattern of consistency in the care of records will assist your office in many ways — especially in preventing the loss of records and in the saving of staff time. Information that is retained in hard copy or electronic files is the property of Oberlin College.

Following is a list of records found in most administrative offices and departments of Oberlin College. The suggested retention periods listed below are considered to be the normal or minimum time a record is retained. It is left to the discretion of the department head or administrative director as to how long records are retained beyond that time.

Record materials:

Description of Item Normal Period of Retention Referral (Destination) Comments
Accounting Journals/General Ledgers 6 years Archival Review
Accounts Payable/Receivable —amts. owed to College and receipt of revenues 4 years Destroy
Bids Accepted (for purchases) Active + 3 years Archival Review See also purchasing
Bids Rejected (for purchases) 3 years Destroy See also purchasing
Blueprints -- Copy usually on file in Construction Office Active + 3 years Archives
Budget Material: Office copies of documents prepared for the Budget, such as Budget Worksheets (requests), supplemental requests, and correspondence and information relative to budget adjustments. The Year-end statement (June 30) is recommended for retention and archival review. Controller's office holds primary record on the budget. 2 years after completion of current budget Detail can be destroyed
Cash Receipts: Copies of cash receipts, cash reports, payable vouchers, data processing runs. 1 year Destroy
Compliant Files Active + 6 years Destroy
Computer printouts and other data processing input/output (non-budget) Active + 3 years Destroy—if the material is retained on magnetic media.
Conferences and Workshops attended file 4 years Destroy
Conferences and Workshops conducted file 5 years Archives
Contracts, agreements Active + 3 years Archives Incls: Documentation for
Correspondence 3 years Archives
Employee Records. See Below, Personnel
Endowment Fund Annual Reports Active + 4 years Archives Review for historical value
Environmental Monitoring Records 4 years Destroy
General Ledgers 6 years Archives Review for historical value
Grants File (awarded)—applications and proposals, etc. Active + 3 years Archives
Grants File (unawarded)—applications and proposals, etc. 3 years Destroy
Grievance Files Active + 3 years Destroy Privacy Documentation
Injury Reports Active + 6 years Destroy
Inventory Control Record Active + 6 years Destroy
Job Descriptions—Human Resources holds copy. Active + 6 years Destroy
Maintenance: Requisitions and Delivery Reports for ofc equip., supplies, etc. Controller holds for 7 years. 2 years Destroy
Minutes: Of staff meetings, committees, or other groups functioning for the office 3 years Archives
News Releases and Newsletters Indefinite Archives
Payroll: Attendance Record, Time Reports, Time Sheets, etc. Controller holds for 7 years. 2 years Destroy
Personnel Records: Files kept on Department personnel for the convenience of the office, but not an official personnel file. Human Resources holds permanent record. While useful, probably 5 years. Notify Archivist for review. Legal Retention is an issue
Petty Cash Records 4 years Destroy
Photographs, recordings, programs, etc., prepared in the course of office social functions or official activities. While useful, probably 5 years. Archives
Planning documents (e.g. Self-Study, Advancement Plan, Five-Year and Ten-Year Plans) While useful Archives Save supporting documentation
Policies, Procedures, Regulations: Official, that concern office operations (e.g. handbooks, manuals, etc.) 3 years after expiration Archives Review for Continuing Admin. of Historical value
Program Reviews Until next review Archives Save supporting documentation
Publications, Catalogues, Bulletins, Brochures, Books, Periodicals, Newsletters - any official publication of the College While useful—Two copies of all publications are to be sent to the Archives at the time of first issue. Archives
Purchase Orders—Purchasing Office's copy of order to a supplier. Active + 3 years Destroy
Records Destruction Files 10 years Destroy
Reports: Annual Reports, or reports prepared on department activities 3 years Archives
Residential Life Files 5 years after graduation Destroy Ref. FERPA Guidelines
Search Files 5 years Destroy, except summary Ref. Section D. #1 & 2, pg.13 Affirmative Action
Student Advisee Files 1 year after graduation Destroy Ref. FERPA Guidelines
Student Files (student academic file) 2 years after graduation Destroy Ref. FERPA Guidelines
Subject Files Active + 6 years Archival Review
Telegraph and Telephone: Billing and payment records (including those in special grants), record of long distance calls, etc. 3 years Destroy
Time Cards 3 years Destroy
Training/Development Records Active + 3 years Archival Review
Vouchers 4 years Destroy
Work Orders File 1 year after completion of work Destroy, unless significant space improvement
Work Study Student Files Active + 5 years Destroy

Non-record Materials


The following specific types of materials are designated as nonrecord materials and may be disposed of by offices as soon as they have served their intended purpose.

  1. Extra copies of documents retained only for convenience of reference, such as "information" or "follow up" copies of correspondence; extra copies of materials of which official copies have been retained within the agency for purpose of record. Duplicates need to be weeded on an annualized basis.

  2. Stocks of superseded, outdated, or otherwise valueless publications, forms and printed documents. (Two copies of each publication should be filed with the Archives at the first issue.)
  3. Preliminary drafts of letters, memoranda, reports, worksheets and internal notes which do not represent significant basic steps in the preparation of record documents.

  4. Letters of transmittal which do not add any information to the transmitted material and other types of routine correspondence that do not show any significant activity of the administrative unit or department.
  5. Shorthand notes, rough notes, and mechanical recordings that have been transcribed into typewritten or printed form.

  6. Miscellaneous notices or memoranda which do not relate to the functional responsibility of the office; i.e., notices of community affairs, employee meetings, holidays, etc.
  7. Automatic Data Processing Recording Media: punched cards, paper tapes, magnetic tapes, magnetic discs, and other media used for "communicating" with data processing equipment.

  8. Microfilm that has been created for systems applications when original documents are retained or prints created for record purposes.
  9. Offset plates, multilith masters, ditto masters, addressograph plates, stencils, photographic negatives or other media used for printing or other reproductive processes.