The Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) is the official repository for Alabama state agencies’ records.
The ADAH building across from the State Capitol accepts permanent historic records into its collection to facilitate research and tell the story of Alabama for generations to come; however, the ADAH also operates a second facility dedicated to storing temporary paper records. This facility, called the State Records Center, has provided secure storage space to state agencies since 1989.
State agencies are required to maintain records for a designated timeframe specified in their Records Disposition Authority (RDA); however, this obligation can be difficult for some agencies to meet because of space constraints. The State Records Center offers a secure records storage alternative and currently holds nearly 50,000 cubic feet of temporary records on behalf of forty-one agencies.
If your agency is considering storing records at the State Records Center, refer to the frequently asked questions below.
Why would my agency store records at the State Records Center?
Legally, state agencies must keep records for a length of time specified in an RDA. These documents found on the ADAH’s website dictate the minimum time for which an agency must keep its records; however, this requirement may present challenges, especially for records with long retention periods. Smaller agencies may not have designated office space in which to store paper records, while large agencies may have outgrown their facilities. While state agencies move towards paperless systems, the State Records Center fills a gap for agencies seeking to shrink their office footprint and remove paper records that are infrequently referenced but still need to be maintained. The State Records Center offers a secure alternative for agencies facing various space or security issues.
In addition, because state agencies seek stability in pricing for budgeting, charging a flat fee per box per month eliminates the guesswork in billing, as no charges exist for retrieval, delivery, refiling, or destruction. The State Records Center operates as a service to state agencies, only seeking to recover its operating costs.
What records are accepted for storage at the State Records Center?
The State Records Center accepts temporary paper records from state agencies for storage, as delineated by your agency’s RDA. These retention periods may vary from a few years to seventy-five years.
Do I have access to my documents at the State Records Center?
Only individuals pre-authorized by a state agency can request access to documents held at the State Records Center. Staff deliver regularly to the Montgomery area.
State agencies access documents stored at the State Records Center upon request. Typically, Records Center staff deliver documents to Montgomery-based agencies twice a day. Retrieving your records is as simple as completing the Records Center Reference Request Form and emailing it to Records Center staff. If your office is located elsewhere in the state, Records Center staff can fax or scan and email records upon request.
The State Records Center is a secure facility only accessible to Records Center staff.
How much does it cost to store records at the State Records Center?
As of 2022, the State Records Center charges $0.48 per box, per month. Agencies receive monthly invoices by mail and pay using STAARS, the Alabama state government accounting system. State agencies do NOT incur additional charges for retrieval, delivery, refiling, or destruction.
How can my state agency store records at the State Records Center?
Once your state agency has identified the temporary records that you want to transfer, then contact the State Records Center at 334-277-9898 to begin the process. State Records Center staff will coordinate with you regarding logistics.
- Identify the temporary paper records to be transferred to the State Records Center
- Locate the retention of temporary records in your agency’s Records Disposition Authority and determine on what date records will be eligible for destruction
- House records in standard-sized records storage boxes 10 x 12 x 16 or contact the State Records Center to buy either new or used boxes
- Pack only one record series or type, such as complaint files, per box
- Organize records (date, alphabetical, id number) and describe them to ensure ease of access
- Prepare and adhere box labels
- Complete the State Records Center Transmittal Form, which describes what is in each box
- Contact the State Records Center to arrange delivery
- Determine who in your agency will request records and complete the Agency Records Center Access Authorization Form
See “A State Agency’s Guide to Transferring Permanent Paper Records to the Archives” for more information about this process.
For questions, contact Michael Grissett at Michael.Grissett@archives.alabama.gov or 334-277-9898.
What happens to records held at the State Records Center when their retention period expires?
State Records Center staff handle destruction for state agencies as the records become eligible based on authorized retention schedules; however, staff will never destroy records without first receiving written permission.
The State Records Center Transmittal Forms include the eligible destruction dates. As those dates approach, staff send destruction notices to state agencies for approval by signature. At this time, agencies may choose to authorize destruction by signing and returning the form or may continue storing documents until further notice. Once the state agencies grant permission for destruction, Records Center Staff handle the destruction process.
Be sure to keep destruction authorization documentation on hand to prove legal destruction in the event of a records request or litigation. Records Management staff will request information about records destroyed on behalf of your agency at the State Records Center as part of the Annual RDA Implementation Report.
What is the difference main building of the Alabama Department of Archives and History and the State Records Center?
The Alabama Department of Archives and History is the state’s government-records repository, a special-collections library and research facility, and home to the Museum of Alabama, the state history museum. It is located in downtown Montgomery, directly across the street from the state capitol. State agencies transfer at no charge permanent paper and electronic records to the ADAH, which assumes responsibility for preserving and providing access to these permanent collections.
On the other hand, agencies transfer temporary paper records to the State Records Center for a small fee. Agencies maintain responsibility for providing access to records and may request deliveries as needed. After the State Records Center receives a signed destruction form once the documents meet the legally established retention period, these temporary paper records are destroyed.
Interested in utilizing the State Records Center? Contact Michael Grissett at 334-277-9898 or Michael.Grissett@archives.alabama.gov.
ADAH Records Management Archivist Devon Henschel wrote this blog.