When submitting your Local Government Records Destruction Notice to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, avoiding common errors will help the Archives staff process and return your destruction notice more quickly.
For detailed instructions on completing a Local Government Records Destruction Notice, please visit our blog titled “Local Government Records Destruction 101.”
Use a Records Disposition Authority
The place to start when filling out a local government destruction notice is the Records Disposition Authority (RDA), starting with identifying the correct RDA for your locality (ex. Municipalities, County Commissions, County Probate Offices, Boards of Education, Law Enforcement Agencies, etc.)
In the Records Disposition Authority (RDA), the third section lists the types of records your locality creates and the minimal amount of time the records must be maintained; however, local governments are permitted to keep records longer than the time interval specified. You will use the information found in the RDA to complete page two of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice.
Identify and List Record Type, Number, and Retention – Do NOT List Records as “Joe’s Desk Drawer”
Inheriting a basement full of boxes labeled “Joe’s Desk Drawer,” or “Misc.” is frustrating; however, if you list “Joe’s Desk Drawer” or “Miscellaneous” on a destruction notice, Archives’ staff cannot determine if these records are in fact eligible for destruction. Because you have access to these records, you must identify the record type(s) in that box. Are these files “Accounting Records,” “Routine Correspondence,” “Administrative Reference Files,” or “Project Files?”
Each record type should be listed on page two of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice with the corresponding retention and number. Also note that some record types may be broken into its components (ex. 16.05a, 16.05b, 16.05c). Being specific and completing all columns on page two (RDA Record #, Records Title as Shown on RDA, Date Span, Retention as Shown on RDA, Date Audited, and Volume) will eliminate the need for follow-up phone calls that delay approval.
Understand “Date Audited Field”
Some retentions are dependent on audit date. For the “Date Audited” field on page two, do not automatically list your local government’s most recent audit. We need to know when the records you want to destroy were made available for audit. For example, if records originally produced in 2008 were audited in 2010, the agency should write 2010 in this field, as this was the audit cycle in which the 2008 records were made available. Even if these records weren’t pulled for the audit, we need to know when they were made available.
If the retention does not mention an audit (ex. “Retain 3 years”), put N/A for Not Applicable.
Include Appropriate Signature
Don’t forget to have your locality’s destruction notice signed. The signature can be completed in ink and scanned or electronically signed in Adobe PDF. Typing in the name does not count as an electronic signature. In addition to the signature, also include the name and title of the authorizing official who has signed the destruction notice.
For schools, the notice must be signed by the Superintendent of Education for your district, in accordance with Alabama Department of Education policy.
Proper destruction allows local governments to focus limited resources on vital, essential, and historical records important to citizens. ADAH staff are here to assist your local government in identifying which records are eligible for destruction and to aid in the preservation of your local government’s permanent records.
Is your local government conducting a basement cleanup project, carrying out its annual destruction activities, or sorting through electronic files? Did you know that you must request authorization from the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) each time you plan to destroy local government records?
After submitting a Local Government Records Destruction Notice to ADAH’s Records Management Section, your local government will receive a Letter of Eligibility verifying whether the records are eligible for destruction. After receiving the eligibility letter from ADAH, you may then proceed with records destruction.
Guide to Completing and Submitting a Local Government Records Destruction Notice
Access the Local Government Records Destruction Notice
Downloading and then opening the Local Government Records Destruction Notice in Adobe Acrobat Reader will allow your local government agency to complete the form electronically. Hover the mouse over blank fields on the form for detailed instructions in completing each part. You may also print the form and fill it out manually, if preferred.
Select the correct Records Disposition Authority (RDA) for your locality (ex. Municipalities, County Commissions, County Probate Offices, Boards of Education, Law Enforcement Agencies, etc.).
The third section of the Records Disposition Authority (RDA) lists the types of records your locality creates and the minimal amount of time to maintain records; however, local governments are permitted to keep records longer than the time interval specified.
The records listing will help you in determining if records are eligible for destruction; furthermore, information found in the RDA will be used to complete page two of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice, as described in more detail below.
Complete the Contact Information Section (Page 1, Section 1)
The first section of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice consists of contact information. The individual listed at the top of the Destruction Notice will be the primary point of contact for any questions. Anyone who needs to be copied on the Letter of Eligibility returned by records management staff may be included in the secondary box.
Complete Manner of Destruction, Approximate Date, and Type of Retention Schedule (Page 1, Section 2)
Identify how records will be destroyed (ex. shredded, burned, etc.).
Specify the approximate date for when you plan to destroy the records.
Notate which Record Disposition Authority (RDA) your local government used (ex. Municipalities, County Commissions, County Probate Offices, Boards of Education, Law Enforcement Agencies, etc.).
Delay entering the total volume being destroyed until after completing the second page.
Delay Adding a Signature until the End of the Process (Page 1, Section 3)
Identify who is the authorizing official to sign off on the destruction notice. The form should be signed after completion.
Complete the Section on Records to be Destroyed (Page 2)
“RDA Record #” Field
To find the record type, you will need to access the third section of the Records Disposition Authority (RDA) and determine if the record type(s) is/are eligible for destruction. Check ADAH’s Records Management website to make sure your local government has the most recent update of the RDA.
Identify the numerical code(s) in the records retention schedule that corresponds with the record type(s) eligible for destruction. Inclusion of the numerical codes will facilitate a timely review of your Notice by ADAH records management staff.
Important Note: If a record type has a multipart listing (i.e. 10.03A, 10.03B, etc.), please clarify to which record type your local government is referring, as the individual parts often have different retentions.
Tip: To easily search for a record type in the RDA, use Ctrl+F to pull up a search box that will allow for a word search.
“Records Title as Shown on RDA” Field
Use the appropriate RDA as listed above to find the record type. The records series title immediately follows the RDA number and will be shown in bold.
You may include variant titles that your local government uses to refer to the records in parentheses. For example, you may list “Routine Accounting Records” as the official title, but in parenthesis list “Cancelled Checks.”
Important Note: Each line should list only one record type regardless of the volume. For example, “Accounting Records” may be 50 cubic feet, whereas “Contracts” may only be .2 cubic feet.
Tip: Copies of the second page of the Local Government Records Destruction Notice may be included if necessary to document additional records requested for destruction.
“Date Span” Field
For each record type, include the year(s) in which these records were created (ex. 2016 or 1970-2005).
“Retention as shown on RDA” Field
Fill in the minimum records retention as listed on the RDA. This information helps determine if the records are eligible for destruction.
“Date Audited” Field
Some minimum retentions are dependent upon an audit date. If the retention in the RDA mentions an audit date (ex. “Retain 2 years following audit”), identify when these records were made available for audit.
Note: Do not list your local government’s most recent audit. Please include when the records being listed on the destruction notice were made available for audit.
Example: Let us consider a local government that has been audited in 2010 and 2017. The local government is submitting a destruction notice that includes records whose minimum retention is “Retain 2 years following audit” and which were originally produced in 2008. The agency should write “2010” in this field, as this was the audit cycle in which the 2008 records were made available.
If the retention does not mention an audit (ex. “Retain 3 years”), put N/A for Not Applicable.
List how many cubic feet are being destroyed for each record type
1 Box of Copy Paper
1 Cubic Foot
1 Banker’s Box
2 Cubic Feet
1 Legal-Sized File Drawer
2 Cubic Feet
Fifty 100 Foot 35mm Microfilm
1 Cubic Foot
3×5 Cards, Ten 12″ Rows
1 Cubic Foot
3 Large Bound Volumes
1.5 Cubic Feet
List how many bytes (B, KB, MB, GB, TB, or PB) are being destroyed.
1 Byte (B)
1 Kilobyte (KB)
1 Megabyte (MB)
1 Gigabyte (GB)
1 Terabyte (TB)
1 Petabyte (PB)
Complete the Total Records Destroyed (Page 1, Section 2)
Add up the total in the volume column on the second page. Then, go back to the first page and enter the total cubic feet of obsolete paper records destroyed and/or the total bytes of obsolete electronic records destroyed.
Complete the Signature Section (Page 1, Section 3)
Have the authorizing official sign
the destruction notice. The notice form may be signed electronically.
Alternatively, the form may be printed and signed. Please remember to include
the printed name and title of the authorizing official as well.
Note: For schools, the notice
must be signed by the Superintendent of Education for your district, in
accordance with Alabama Department of Education policy.
Submit your completed Local Government Records Destruction Notice via
Email the Local Government Records Destruction Notice as an attachment to the Records Management Section of the Alabama Department of Archives and History at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include a subject line such as “Local Government Records Destruction Notice” and a signature line so that our staff are sure to distinguish your local government email from spam..
Wait for an Email including the “Letter of Eligibility” from the
Records Management Section
Notices filled out correctly may be returned in a few days; however, those destruction notices with errors may take a few weeks to be processed. Your Letter of Eligibility will include a copy of your Local Government Records Destruction Notice.
Destroy Records in a Secure Manner
Employ secure destruction methods such as shredding or burning to ensure the complete destruction of confidential information.
Maintain a Copy of Your Letter of Eligibility and Destruction Notice
Your local government should keep a copy of the Letter of Eligibility and the Local Government Records Destruction Notice for your files to prove legal destruction of records.
For additional information on RDAs, please visit our blog post titled, “Records Disposition Authority: Roadmap for Records Retention.”
Do you ever wonder why some records are kept for just a couple of years, while other records are kept for decades or even forever? Do you know where to find how long different types must be maintained? Let’s discuss a document that serves as a roadmap for state and local government records retention: the Records Disposition Authority (RDA).
An RDA is designed to help state and local governments manage their records more efficiently by identifying how long specific records should be kept, when records can be destroyed, and which records should be preserved permanently.
The Code of Alabama 1975 mandates that no state, county, municipal or other public official shall cause any state or local government records to be destroyed without first obtaining approval of the State and/ or Local Government Records Commissions (Code of Alabama 1975 § 41-13-21 through 23).
Public officials include not only elected officials, but any employees whose salaries are paid in whole or in part by Alabama taxpayers. The definition references the Code of Alabama 1975 § 36-12-1, which defines the phrase “public officer or servant” as, “in addition to the ordinary public offices, departments, commissions, bureaus and boards of the state and the public officers and servants of counties and municipalities, all persons whatsoever occupying positions in state institutions.”
In practice, authorization from the Commissions is provided in the form of retention schedules, called Records Disposition Authorities (RDAs). The RDAs describe the “disposition” of records (temporary or permanent) and stipulate minimum retentions of record types (ex. routine accounting records) after which destruction is authorized to take place.
Permanent records as identified in the RDA (ex. meeting minutes, annual reports) cannot be destroyed and must be preserved in perpetuity. State agencies may transmit permanent records which are no longer regularly referenced to the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) for permanent preservation. Local government agencies are generally responsible for maintaining permanent records in their communities to provide greater access among citizens.
Temporary records as identified in the RDA may be destroyed once their minimum retention periods have passed. State agencies may destroy temporary records without requesting preapproval from the Alabama Department of Archives and History; however, records liaisons must submit logs of records destroyed in the previous fiscal year as part of the Annual RDA Implementation Report.
Local government agencies must request preapproval from the Alabama Department of Archives and History each time records are to be destroyed. Destruction can only proceed once an agency has received a Letter of Eligibility authorizing destruction of the records. Our next blog entry will describe the Local Government Records Destruction Notice Processin more detail.
Records management staff have worked over the past twenty years to develop approximately 175 State Agency RDAs and 15 Local Government RDAs. State agency RDAs are highly specific and describe the records produced by a single agency in significant detail. Local government agency RDAs describe “classes” of local government organizations, such as “Law Enforcement Agencies” and “Municipalities.”
The RDA serves as the foundation of a records management program that helps state and local governments comply with state records laws, meet operational goals and objectives, document financial decisions and expenditures adequately, and promote transparency in government.
Guest Contributor: Keri Hallford, Collections Archivist, Alabama Department of Archives and History
Are you considering wrapping books in your agency’s collection? Keeping bound records was once an easy and reliable way to reference important information quickly. In the digital age, however, this method is becoming outmoded, and books often fall into disrepair. As bound records become more delicate and harder to care for, some archivists choose to wrap books and ledgers to protect these aging materials.
Before you wrap your books, there are several questions that you need to consider:
Are you trying to prevent damage caused by friction as books are placed on or removed from shelves?
Have the cover and/or multiple pages detached?
Are you trying to keep a book from becoming dusty or dirty?
Is the book’s leather binding producing a fine powder, referred to as “red rot”? (Note: Red rot has certain health dangers associated with it, so please proceed with caution!)
Do your materials need water protection that your shelves are not supplying?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may want to wrap your books. Contemplate your budget for a wrapping project. Will this be an ongoing initiative? Are you only wrapping books on an “as-needed” basis? Will you do just a few books, or rows upon rows? The supply costs can add up over time.
You can decide to tie broken books together with cotton tying tape, to hold detached pieces in place until the greater binding issues can be addressed. Be sure to not draw the tie too loose or too tight, as either may cause damage to the book.
There are several materials that we recommend wrapping with. From least durable to most durable, you can use archival wrapping paper (like a craft paper in consistency, but better for the item); folder stock; or a spun polyester fabric-like substance called Tyvek. Tyvek is chemically inert, allows the books to breathe, and is water resistant, which may help to protect an item that isn’t protected by shelving if there’s a water leak.
Tyvek has a shiny side and a soft, matte side. Be sure to use it with the shiny side out. Much thought needs to go into how often your books are going to be used in the future. If it sits on the shelf most of the time, then you probably won’t need to use this more durable material.
To wrap a book, use the book itself as a template. Cut two strips of your chosen material to fit the length, width, and height of the book. The two strips should lie across each other perpendicularly.
Secure one strip with at least two pieces of hook and loop material (such as Velcro), and then secure the other side in a similar fashion.
Write proper identifying information on the spine or wherever it can easily be viewed in your storage area. You may use a pencil or, more permanently, a micron pen.
Before you close the book, slip an identification paper into the book so it can be identified if its wrapper is misplaced.
To shelve your book, consider the size of the volume and the size of the shelf. Very heavy and large books should be laid on their sides. Never pile up so many books that the bottom volume is impossible to move and its spine warps with the weight. If possible, do not allow a book to overhang its shelf. Serious damage may occur over time, especially when an item can be accidentally struck by people walking past the shelf.
Below is a handy rubric of archival quality supplies and companies from which you can purchase them. As with any supply company, buying in bulk will help save money.
Books and ledgers remain crucial resources, even in the Web 2.0 era. They provide both intrinsic and extrinsic information, ranging from the actual content of the text to features like binding, flyleaves, watermarks, margin notes, page layout, and the ink and script used by the creator. By taking measures to protect bound records in need of extra care, these items can be made available to researchers for years to come.