Skip to main content

Developing Your Retention Schedule

How to Create a Departmental Records Retention Schedule

  1. Contact the College Archivist/Records Manager, David Obermayer, email, telephone: 610-328-8540.
  2. Along with the College Records Manager determine if a records retention schedule has previously been drafted for your department. If so review the old schedule or draft. 
  3. Set up a meeting with the College Records Manager and key stakeholders within your department (department heads, administrative assistants or coordinators etc. whoever handles these records regularly.)
  4. During this meeting, as per Swarthmore College’s Records Management Policy, a departmental custodian of records will be appointed. They will be responsible for making sure the records retention schedule is carried out throughout the department.  
  5. The group will also identify all records that the department generates and is responsible for, the length of time these records need to be retained and what their final desposition is (destruction through a shredding service, transfer to the College Archives, digital purge etc.) 
  6. This information will be entered into the record retention schedule template.
  7. When the schedule is complete and accurately reflects the retention and desposition for all records generated by the department the College Records Manager will take the schedule to the Information Security Committee for approval.
  8. Once the schedule is approved by the Information Security Committee it may be sent to the Office of General Counsel for final approval and risk assessment. 
  9. When the schedule has been approved by the Records Management Working Group and reviewed by the Office of General Counsel, if applicable, it will become the official records retention schedule for the department. 

The records retention schedule should be reviewed annually, after approval, to see if any revisions are needed. 

Think Like a Records Manager

Developing a formal retention schedule takes time and thought, both about the specific documents and files used by your office, but also about the practices and procedures that revolve around those documents.  

As you begin to develop a retention schedule, it may be helpful to think about the following questions:  

  • What records/information does my department save (electronic and paper)?
  • How long do we save it, and why? Are we following any specific laws, best practices from professional organizations, or other guidance?
  • Are we the responsible office or are we duplicating records/information from elsewhere? Are we keeping drafts or only final copies?
  • Do our records contain sensitive information? If so, are the records stored securely when in active use and when in storage? Are they securely disposed of? Sensitive information includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    • Social security numbers
    • Bank numbers
    • Student academic records
    • Health information
    • Employment information