Questions to ask before disposing of materials

The proper disposal of paper and digital materials is important. Before disposing of materials, check to see if your disposal procedures are in compliance by asking two questions.
 
Question 1: Can the materials be disposed of yet?
In order to ensure the security, integrity and confidentiality of the information in the custody of LCC, disposal of materials should be completed in the normal course of business and in compliance with LCC’s approved Retention Schedules, which can be found on the O:\ drive – O:\Interdivisional\LCC-Records_Management_and_College_Archives\Records Retention Schedules.
 
Non-records
Non-records are not included on LCC’s Retention Schedules. They can and should be disposed of as soon as they are no longer needed. Non-records are broadly defined as drafts, duplicates, convenience copies, reference materials and other materials that don’t document the college’s activities. For more examples of non-records, see the “Official Records vs. Non-Records at LCC” document in the Records Retention 5Star Knowledge Base article.
 
Records
A record is recorded information “prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body in the performance of an official function.” It is essentially those materials that document the college’s activities. For any college materials that meet this definition, the applicable Retention Schedule will need to be consulted to verify their retention period.

  • If the record’s retention period is not yet over, it needs to be retained until the retention period ends. If records storage or records organization is an issue for your department, please contact Records Information Specialist Linnea Knapp for guidance in finding the best solution for your storage or organization needs.
  • If the record’s retention period has ended, you need to answer question 2.

Question 2: Do the records contain private or confidential information?
Determining the sensitivity of the information in your materials is an important aspect of records management and disposal. The materials need to be reviewed for the sensitivity of their content, as per the Information Security Policy, to ensure appropriate protection of the information during the disposal process. Sensitive information will fall under one or more of the following categories:

  • Private – Information that should not be available to the general population. This includes materials such as employee procedure manuals or department financial records.
  • Confidential – Information that needs to be safeguarded because of laws, regulations, standards or policies such as FERPA, HIPAA or PCI or because it has been determined by the college that its loss or unauthorized release would cause devastating financial loss or loss of reputation. Confidential information includes most information about students’ and employees’ academic, financial and medical records.

Records that don’t contain private or confidential information are considered public records. They contain information that is in the public domain or information intended to be communicated to the general public or community, such as course descriptions or promotional information about services at the college.

Once you know what level of security your materials have, you’ll know whether they need to be shredded or can be simply recycled or thrown away.

If you have questions or for more information about Records & Information Management at LCC, contact Linnea Knapp at LCC-RIM@lcc.edu. Check back next week for directions on how to properly dispose of eligible materials.