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Records Retention at St. Cloud State

Offices at St. Cloud State create records, both paper and digital, to do their jobs. But what happens when the records created are no longer needed?

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What is a record? And why should the University Archives be involved?


The state of Minnesota (M.S. 138.17) defines records as:

"Cards, correspondence, disks, maps, memoranda, microfilms, papers, photographs, recordings, reports, tapes, writings, optical disks, other data, information, or documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, storage media or conditions of use, made or received by an officer or agency of the state and an officer or agency of a county, city, town, school district, municipal subdivision or corporation or other public authority or political entity within the state pursuant to state law or in connection with the transaction of public business by an officer or agency."

In addition, the state of Minnesota (M.S. 15.17) requires:

“All officers and agencies of the state…shall make and preserve all records necessary to a full and accurate knowledge of their official activities…”

St. Cloud State University is a public institution. Thus, its records are public and must be managed to provide transparency as a government agency.

There is no difference between paper and digital record - form does not matter and both should be managed properly.

Thanks to the University of Illinois, a flowchart and explanation are available to help offices determine if the material they have, both paper and digital (including email), is a record.

Why University Archives? In March 1977, the University Archives was established by St. Cloud State president Charles Graham. President Graham gave authority to the University Archives over the records created at St. Cloud State.

What does the University Archives do?


The University Archives maintains the corporate memory of St. Cloud State University by preserving and using University records and publications that have long-term value and are no longer used by the creating office. It serves as a source of reliable information about University programs, people, policies, and property.

University staff, faculty, and students, as well as the general public, use the information in the records held at the University Archives.

The University Archives will not keep every piece of paper, photograph, publication, etc. that is created by an office. Most records created do not have long-term value and should not be transferred to the University Archives. The University of Illinois has developed a flowchart and explanation to help determine if what you have are records and what should be done with them.

What reasons are there to keep records long term? Determining the long-term value of the records is a start. Is there a financial reason to keep the records permanently? An administrative reason? A legal reason? A historic reason?

My office has records that are no longer used – what should I do?


If you have records that you no longer use and are not sure what to do with them, please contact the University Archives! We will help you determine the value of the records. Do the records need to be kept for a period of time and they destroyed? Can the records be destroyed right away? Or should some of the records be transferred to the University Archives?

University Archives has developed several unit records retention schedules as well as a university-wide records retention schedule. What is a records retention schedule? A records retention schedule identifies records and the period of time that they need to be retained. Once the retention period is over, the records may be destroyed or transferred to the University Archives. If unsure if the records should be destroyed, please contact the University Archives for guidance. There are many benefits to having a records retention schedule for your unit.

If your unit is interested in developing a records retention schedule, please contact University Archives.

The University Archives accepts records that only have long-term value to the St. Cloud State. If records do not need to be kept permanently, the University Archives will not accept them.

If the records need to be transferred to the University Archives, how do I do it?


If you think that your office has records to transfer to the University Archives, please contact us before you do anything! Records that you think may have long-term value may not.

If your office’s records have long-term value, the University Archives has transfer procedures that must be followed for us to accept them. By following the procedures, it provides access to your office’s records almost instantly.

If you have digital records to be transferred to the University Archives, please contact us.

In a nutshell, the University Archives requires:

  • Boxes 12" wide by 15" deep by 10" high, or smaller, must be used; larger boxes will not fit on our shelves and present a safety hazard for staff
  • Records should be in folders with legible labels securely attached to the folders. The folder label should reflect the contents of the folder
  • A digital list of folder titles should be prepared and sent, either in the body of an e-mail message, or as an attachment, which lists what folders are in what box
  • Calling ahead to make arrangements for delivery of records

You must also complete a records transfer form. Fill out the sections for “transferring office.” Include who created the records, the scope of the records, and the time period covered. In addition, also note if there is any “protected” information present. Sign the form and send with the records being transferred.

What do I do if I have a question about my office’s records?


Please contact us at 308-4753 or by email at We’ll be happy to talk to you about your records! Its our job!

Resources that may help and inform:


Minnesota Historical Society

Preserving and Disposing of Government Records

Managing Your Government Records: Guidelines for Archives and Agencies

Electronic Records Management Guidelines

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