The University Archives selects, preserves, and provides access to the records of the University and related materials of enduring historical and administrative significance. The University Archives, located in Bender Library, is the official repository for all University records of lasting value once they are no longer needed for current use.
Shared Responsibility for Records
Records regardless of format, created in the course of business are the property of the University. AU offices and staff that create and maintain these records are responsible for their preservation and security while they are in active use, and are also responsible for consulting the records retention schedule and/or the University Archivist to determine when and how inactive records should be transferred to the University Archives or destroyed.
Value and Uses of Records
The records generated by the schools, departments, and offices of the University are the most tangible evidence of AU's history and activities. They provide University administration with the materials necessary to understand and interpret the evolution of University policies and functions. The records not only document the official duties of the university administration, schools, programs, centers, and departments, but also its relationships with alumni, student groups, and the city of Washington, DC.
Categories of Records
The selection and preservation of those records that support these historical and administrative pursuits is a complex undertaking as not all of the past and current records that American University produced are of permanent value. Some are of lasting significance; others are needed to provide legal and administrative evidence for recent University actions and obligations; still others are only of temporary value, primarily to the office that holds them.
Records Retention Schedule
American University's Records Retention Schedule is a guideline that sets forth the length of time records are recommended to be retained. It applies to records in the inactive phase of their life cycle. The inactive phase begins at the conclusion of an ongoing matter, such as completion of a contract or grant funded research. Unless otherwise specified, the retention period designated in the schedule starts at this point in time. Individuals with questions or concerns about the schedule are encouraged to meet with the University Archivist.
Digital or Electronic Records
Disposition of records created, retained, or stored in information systems or computers should proceed on the same basis as traditional records. Digital or electronic records for which there is no retention requirement should be deleted promptly. AU Records Retention and Disposal Policy re: disposal of electronic records.
Records may not be destroyed unless permission is granted through an approved records schedule. Records pertaining to any investigation, legal action or proceeding, litigation, audit, or program review in progress should not be destroyed even if the retention period or disposition date specified for the records has expired.
Access to Records
Access to records remaining in the custody of academic units and offices is through a designated staff person. Access to records in the custody of the University Archives is in accordance with its policies and procedures. Some materials may be restricted for a designated period of time if there are privacy and/or confidentiality concerns.