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Records Management & TLA Archives
Texas State Library circa 1910
Overview: The records that you and your committee create in the conduct of TLA business are TLA records. They are official evidence of transactions that are critical for conducting the on-going business of the Association. These records, as the byproduct of your work, document the activities and policies of TLA. They are important also because they help individual members and the organization to remember details, document important procedures, and maintain an accurate chronicle of the Association's work in fulfilling its mission.
The most important of these records are also archival in nature. That is, they contain unique information that has enduring value. Archival records (which represent a limited portion of all the TLA records created) are kept for the on-going benefit of the Association and for posterity. The archives may be used by the organization, librarians, scholars, researchers, and the public. TLA's archives are on deposit at the Texas State Archives Commission, as mandated by the TLA Bylaws.
The following recommendations are given to help unit chairs and members create, maintain, and save records in a way that benefits the Association and that will ensure the preservation of important archival materials.
I. Definition of Records
Records you create in the conduct of TLA business are the property of TLA. TLA records exist in any medium that carries information about TLA and are created (or gathered) by TLA's representatives, members, or staff. Common types of records include minutes, correspondence, financial records, reports, papers, published materials, and photographs, for instance.
II. Responsibility as a creator of TLA records
- At a minimum, your records should include the names of all unit members, the names of all officers of the unit, minutes, financial records, correspondence, working files, reports of all unit activities or projects, unit newsletters, conference or annual assembly files, and any publications or promotional materials generated by the unit.
- Keep orderly and complete records.
- As unit chair, be responsible for collecting important records from your committee members.
- Take adequate physical care of the records.
- Records should be maintained in a manner that others can understand.
- Take out duplicate, routine materials.
- Remember, when you conduct TLA business (and consequently create records), you are acting as a representative of TLA.
- Transfer records to the next chair.
Transfer appropriate records to the TLA office.
III. Preparing Records for Transfer
Unit chairs must prepare records for transfer to the incoming chair and the TLA office. Preparing materials for these transfers includes organizing the records and insuring that the records are complete, with as few miscellaneous documents as possible.
The basic rule for distinguishing between what to keep and what to throw away can be characterized as follows: Keep anything that relates to the development or interpretation of policies and procedures or that may be useful to the incoming chair. Keep financial records, procedures/guidelines, minutes, and correspondence for example.
- Keep correspondence about TLA policy or important unit functions. Correspondence can be e-mail, memos, transcripts or notes of phone conversations, for instance.
- Keep documentation on WEB sites. Download the unit page every year and save the hardcopy. TLA does not save electronic data files.
- Do not keep notes to minutes. Keep the final minutes.
Duplicates and Routine Records
If there are final reports that supercede previous drafts or reports that compile lots of work, keep only the final and definitive record, unless the drafts provide important commentary. Send only one complete set of records to the incoming chair. If the sequence of transfer flows smoothly, this process will ensure that the TLA office will eventually get only one set of records. Chairs should have copies of all the materials that are important from committee members. Weed duplicates.
If you are unsure about anything, err on the side of caution: Keep it. Contact the TLA archivist for additional guidelines.
IV. Transferring Records
When to receive/create records? You should receive (or ask for, if necessary) records from your immediate two predecessors. For example, if your term is 2000-2001, you should also have the records from 1998-1999 and 1999-2000. During your tenure, you will create the 2000-2001 records.
When to transfer records?
The Outgoing Chair should dispose of his/her records in two steps:
- Records that you create and those of the previous year (from your most immediate predecessor) should be transferred or shipped to the new unit chair sometime between conference and annual assembly (whatever arrangement is agreeable to both parties).
- Records from the earliest year that you inherited from the first of your two predecessors (1997-1998, as per the example above) should be sent to the TLA headquarters in a box, which should be marked as follows:
Archivist, Texas Library Association
3355 Bee Caves Road, Ste. 401
Austin, Texas 78746
Reference: Unit (e.g., Membership Committee 1995-1996) Records Deposit
How do I access records that I may want to look at but are no longer in my possession?
Once records are sent to the TLA office, they will be held at TLA headquarters for at least a year before they are transferred to the Texas State Archives Commission, so you can still access the materials at TLA or have the archivist search the materials. Once the records have been submitted to the Texas State Archives Commission, members may still have access to materials. You need only go to the Texas State Archives Commission and request the records (to be used there) or contact the TLA archivist for assistance.
V. Basic Preservation
All records should be stored in clean, sturdy conditions. Nothing breaks an archivist's heart faster than the following line: "I have a few boxes of some old records that may be important, but they're down in my basement, which is, unfortunately, flooded at the moment..." Moisture, excessive humidity, heat (especially for photographs and analog media), dirt, insects, and light are all the natural enemy of records. Unit chairs should try to store records in a clean, dry environment. Boxing records in sturdy boxes is particularly important.
VI. Texas Library Archives
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is the official repository for the TLA Archives. The archives contain minutes of the Executive Board, Council, President Files, Treasure Files, Secretary Files, Executive Director Files, Committee Files, Division Files, District Files, Roundtable Files, Conference Files, Publications, Photographs, and Media. All of the materials are open to the public and may be used at the Texas State Library and Archives building. The official record group number is 1979/251. The archives span 1907-1991 at the present time.
VII. For Further Information
If you have any questions about any records management procedures or archival management, please contact the TLA archivist, Gloria Meraz or call the TLA office.
Created on Apr 11, 2010 | Last updated April 11, 2010