Workshops: Workshop Handouts

Managing Inactive Records Sample Database User's Manual

Retain a “Read Only” copy of the sample database on CD or on your computer or network. To begin using the database, copy the file using a new file name.

Download the sample inactive records database (Access file .mdb)

Introduction

The New York State Archives designed the Records Management System (RMS) to aid local governments and state agencies store, retrieve, and dispose of records. You can use the system effectively as designed or tailor it to your particular situation. State Archives personnel are not responsible for customizing the software; the government or agency accepts the application as designed.

The system was designed to manage all records, active and inactive, in all record formats. However, it is most effective in managing inactive records stored in records storage boxes.

The system is designed in Microsoft Access2000, a popular and easy-to-use database program, and will convert into later versions. It cannot operate with earlier versions. The New York State Archives does NOT offer general Access database training, only training for this particular application. If additional Access training is needed, the State Archives suggests that users arrange for training with local vendors.

Users who familiarize themselves with basic records management concepts will find the system easier to use. We therefore suggest users attend the Archives’ basic workshops, especially Inactive Records Management, and read Archives publications, especially #49, Administration of Inactive Records, if needed.

Using the Database

To use the database, copy the file from the CD to your personal computer or local area network. Then, open Microsoft Access, click File and then Open. Click on the database file and then click open. The MainDataEntryForm loads automatically.

The RMS has four main sections: main records data, file folder listing, checkout system, and reports. The software displays all sections on one screen for easy use and access

Sample data is included to ease the learning process and demonstrate the application’s capabilities. Users should delete the sample data before entering their own. To do this, exit the form, click on the Queries tab and then click on the query DeleteSampleData. This will clear all the sample data.

Entering a Record in the Main Records Data Section

Directions for each field are provided below in the order in which the fields appear in the database. Use the tab to move from field to field.

  • Container Number: In this field, enter the assigned number of a records container (a storage box, microfilm carton, filing cabinet drawer, or any other type of container you use).
  • Location: Tab to this field next, and enter the location code of the record. The code may include any combination of six alphabetic or numeric characters to indicate the shelving row, shelving unit, and individual shelf where you’ve placed the storage container. (See publication #49, Administration of Inactive Records for information on locator systems.)
  • Department: Enter a two-character code for the department that created or holds legal custody of the record; for example, TC for Town Clerk, BD for Building Department, or PS for Pupil Services.
  • Record Status: Enter one of three letters: A for Active, I for Inactive, or D for Destroyed. This field capitalizes automatically when exited. Please note: If you do not use one of these 3 letters, the Active, Inactive, and Destroyed reports will not work.
  • Record Series Title: Enter the name of the records series: for example, Purchase Orders, Town Board Minutes, or Canceled Checks. This field is limited to 120 characters. Also, follow strict naming conventions. See “Helpful Hints.”
  • From Date: Enter the earliest date of any record within that container. The date may be entered using dashes or slashes between the month, day, and year. The software will automatically convert it to mm/dd/yyyy format. For example, 2-3-02 will appear as 02/03/2002.
  • To Date: Enter the latest date of any record within that container. Again, the date may be entered using dashes or slashes between the month, day, and year.
  • Volume: Enter the volume of records within that container expressed in cubic feet; for example, 1.5, 2, .25, etc.
  • Check box for Permanent: If the record has a permanent retention period in an applicable State Archives’ retention schedule or if you have determined it has historic value, click on the small box and a checkmark will appear in the field. To remove the checkmark simply click on the field again.
  • Schedule Item #: This field has two sections. The first is a drop-down menu where you choose the assigned retention schedule for your local government or state agency. (GEN stands for the general retention schedule for state agencies; OCA stands for Office of Court Administration schedules.) In the second section, enter the retention schedule item number. In an Archives’ schedule for local governments, use the number enclosed in brackets to the left of the records series title.
  • Retention Period: Enter the retention period for the records series in years only. If the record has a permanent retention period, enter 9999. Also, check the Permanent? box. If the retention period is less than a year, enter it as 1. In some cases a record series may have a conditional or event-based retention period, such as “six years after youngest child attains the age of 18.” In such cases, leave the retention period field empty and make a note of the retention in the Comments field.
  • Disposition Date: Enter the date when the records’ retention period expires. Calculate this date by adding the retention period to the “to date” of the record plus one day, e.g., a box of cancelled checks with a date span of 1999-2000 would have a disposition date of January 1, 2007. The “to date” in this example is 2000. The retention period for cancelled checks is 6 years. It is assumed the latest exact date in the series is December 31, 2000. Add one day to this and you arrive at January 1, 2007. If the record series is active and still open, leave both the “to date” and the disposition date empty. If the records are permanent leave the disposition date field empty.
  • Comments: Enter additional information about the records (if needed). This field is limited to 200 characters.
  • Date Destroyed: Enter the date destroyed only after a record is physically destroyed. After entering the date destroyed, change the Record Status to “D” for destroyed.

File Folder Listing

Use the File Folder Listing in those cases where the records are frequently requested and accessed at the file folder level, e.g. personnel files, social services case files, or student files. The file folder listing section is linked to the main records section. The Container Number field will automatically fill in each time the tab key is hit. Enter the name or number of each file within the container in the File Name or Number field. Also, use this section if the container holds more than one records series.

Check-out System

Use this section to document the retrieval of a record from its storage location, such as a box of inactive records from the records storage room.

  • Container Number: This field is linked to the Container Number Field in the main records data section and automatically fills in by hitting the tab key.
  • File: Enter the file name or number. If a whole box is retrieved from inactive storage, simply enter “whole box.”
  • Date Retrieved: Enter the date that the file was retrieved.
  • Person: Enter the name of the person who retrieved or received the file.
  • Date Returned: Enter the date that the file was returned to its container.

Reports

The RMS was built with 13 pre-designed reports. The reports section appears on the right side of the screen and contains 13 labeled command buttons. To run a report, simply click the command button. Some reports will prompt you for more information before running. This criterion is referred to as a “parameter value.” To obtain a short description of each report, hold the mouse pointer over the command button.

  • Active Records: This report returns all records with an active status (any record with an “A” in the status field). The report lists the records series title, date span, department, container number, location, and record status. The total volume of all active records appears in the header.
  • Department List: This report lists all records held by a particular department regardless of record status. When you click on the report’s command button, a "parameter value” dialog box appears prompting you to enter the Department Code. Enter the two-digit Department Code and click OK. The report lists records series title, date span, container number, location, record status, and disposition date.
  • Destroyed Records: This report lists all destroyed records (records with a Record Status of "D").
  • Destruction Authorization: This report creates a form listing all records authorized for destruction by a specified department. To create the form click on the destruction authorization command button. A parameter box appears prompting you to enter the earliest date. Enter that date and click OK. A parameter box then prompts you for the latest date. Enter that date and click OK. Another parameter box appears prompting you to enter the department code. Enter the desired code and click OK. A printable form appears, listing the container number, records series title, date span, schedule number, retention period, and disposition date. The form also has an authorization section for required signatures.
  • Disposition Report: This report lists all records eligible for destruction. Click on the Disposition Report command button. A parameter box prompts you to enter the earliest date in the range. Enter the earliest date in the following format: mm/dd/yyyy. You must enter it in this format or the system cannot identify the requested records. Another parameter box will then prompt you to enter the latest date in the range in the same format as above. The disposition report lists the following information: container number, location, records series title, department code, date span, retention schedule item number, retention period, and disposition date.
  • Find a File: This report locates the container number and location of a particular file. Click on the Find a File command button and a parameter value box prompts you to enter the file name or number file you are searching for.

    Folder Listing: This report creates a contents list for a records container. Click on the folder listing command button, and a parameter box prompts you to enter the desired container number. Enter the number and click OK. The report lists all folders or files within the container.
  • Inactive Records: This report returns a list of all inactive records (records with a Record Status of “I”). The report will list records series title, the date span, department, container number, and the location. The total cubic footage of inactive records appears in the report header.
  • List All Records: This report lists all records with an active or inactive record status. Note: records with a destroyed status (code D) no longer exist and will not appear on this report. The report header contains the total volume of records. This report may satisfy the FOIL requirement that local governments and state agencies maintain a subject listing of records in their custody.
  • Outstanding Retrievals: This report lists all records retrieved but not returned. It lists the container number, file name or number, the date retrieved, and the person who retrieved it.
  • Permanent Records: This report lists all records with a permanent retention (all records that have a checkmark in the Permanent? field). The report lists the records series title, date span, department, schedule item number, and location.
  • Records Series: This report will give you a listing of all containers that hold a particular records series. Click on the command button, and a parameter box prompts you to enter the name of the records series. Type the name of the desired series and click OK. The system creates a report listing the records series title, date span, department, location, container number, and record status. In the header of the report the retention schedule item number and retention period for the record series are listed.
  • Retrieval History: This report lists all records retrievals made from a particular container number. When you click on the report button, a parameter box prompts you to enter the container number. The report lists the file name or number taken, the date it was taken, the person who retrieved or received the file, and the date it was returned.

Queries

There are a number of queries in this database, although most are used by the system to design reports. Two will prove valuable, however:

  1. DeleteDestroyedRecords erases all trace of destroyed records from the database, after your have destroyed them.
  2. DeleteSampleData clears all sample data from database.

Helpful Hints

  1. Remember to establish naming conventions that enforce consistent data entry rules. This ensures that all reports work as designed, so you can locate the data you need. For example, always use the same records series name. Don’t enter Purchase Orders, P.O.’s, and Vouchers for the same records series.
  2. You can search for one particular record without running one of the reports by placing the cursor in the appropriate field (e.g. Records Series Title), then clicking on the binocular icon at the top of the screen. This opens a dialog box where you can enter the name of the record and then click “find first.” This will bring you to the desired record.
  3. If your local government or agency uses only one retention schedule or opts to use this database to track only inactive records, you can simplify the data entry by using “default values.” To enter a default value for Record Status click on the table’s tab and open the table MainData, then click on the View menu, and then click Design View. Next, click on the field name Record Status. At the bottom of the screen place the cursor in the default value field and type an “I” in the field. Now the Record Status field will auto-fill with the letter I. This same process can be used for all other fields where the value entered will be identical for each record.
  4. If your organization chooses not to use one of form’s sections, you can hide that section to ensure no one inadvertently enters data there. For example, if you want to hide the Check Out section of the form, open the form and then click on View and then Design View. Right mouse click on the Check Out section and choose Properties. In the Visible Field change the selection “Yes” to “No.”


For more information and assistance, contact your State Archives’ Regional Advisory Officer.

Back to the Inactive Records workshop page