What is Records and Information Management?

A quick introduction to basic records management concepts, including what is and is not a record.



What is Records and Information Management?

ARMA International’s definition of records and information management is “the field of management responsible for establishing and implementing policies, systems, and procedures to capture, create, access, distribute, use, store, secure, retrieve, and ensure disposition of an organization’s records and information.”

Records and information management addresses records from the period of time that they are originally created, actively used, possibly re-purposed and re-used, and eventually disposed of or transferred to an archives because of their long-term value. While there are a variety of tools, programs, databases and systems used to create and actively manage records and other information resources, RIM strives to create a unified, consistent, efficient and effective approach to their management.
Records enable and support the University’s work to fulfill its mission. The White House explained the importance of Records and Information Management in the U.S. Presidential Memorandum – Managing Government Records : “When records are well managed, agencies can use them to assess the impact of programs, to reduce redundant efforts, to save money, and to share knowledge within and across their organizations. In these ways, proper records management is the backbone of open Government."

What is a Record?

Records are defined by the Illinois State Records Act as:
"books, papers, digitized electronic material, maps, photographs, databases, or other official documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made, produced, executed or received by any agency in the State in pursuance of state law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its successor as evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the State or of the State Government, or because of the informational data contained therein".
The simplest definition comes from ARMA International which says that a record is any recorded information, regardless of medium or characteristics, made or received and retained by an organization in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.
If you need help determining if a document you have is a record, consult the Is it a Record? flowchart or email the RIMS team at RIMSGroup@uillinois.edu

What are Non-Records?

Non-Records may be duplicates of University records, materials used merely for reference purposes, or materials that communicate information of short-term value. Non-records should be disposed of as soon as possible after their primary usefulness has expired. Unlike University records, non-records do not require State approval prior to their disposal.
Non-Records may still be valuable to the business processes of units and they may still be expected to be kept locally within a department for future business processes. For example, some units may want to have ready access to reference copies of contracts for use when drafting new contracts for similar goods and services. For this reason, departments may intentionally retain these copies for specified periods of time, but they should plan to dispose of the materials as soon as their primary usefulness has expired.

Examples of Non-Records

  • Academic research data
  • Personal correspondence and junk mail/spam
  • Non-University publications and catalogs
  • Working papers and drafts of papers or reports that have been published
  • Duplicate material including recipient copies of most internal communications
  • Blank forms and stocks of printed or reproduced documents kept for supply purposes
  • Material created and preserved only for reference or convenience purposes
  • Books, periodicals, newspapers, posters, and other library and museum materials
  • Private materials neither made nor received by the University in the transaction of public business
  • Material used to facilitate operations but not to support, enable, or document administrative action
  • Material considered as University Records that has been duplicated or migrated to another format in accordance with the requirements put forth by the State
  • Transitory messages created primarily to communicate information of short-term value. Transitory messages are created in many formats such as email, instant messaging (IM), text messaging (SMS), or paper correspondence. Examples of transitory messages include, but are not limited to:
    • reminders to employees about scheduled meetings or appointments;
    • telephone messages (whether in paper, voicemail, or other electronic form);
    • announcements of office events;
    • recipient copies of announcements of campus-sponsored events such as exhibits, lectures, workshops, etc.

For more information about Non-Records, please read A Guide for the Clarification of Non-Record Materials or Communication 003: Identification of University Records versus Non-Record Materials.

Have a question that isn't answered here or need more specialized guidance? Please contact us!

Records and Information Management Services 

Email: RIMSgroup@uillinois.edu 

Urbana Office: Rm. 450 HAB M/C 359

Chicago Office: AOB B11, M/C 817


Keywordsrecords management, records, non-records   Doc ID94810
OwnerMargaret N.GroupUniversity of Illinois System
Created2019-10-03 15:34:50Updated2023-08-21 15:23:01
SitesUniversity of Illinois System
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