GOVERNMENT RECORDS NEWSNews from the State and Local Government Record Commissions
Vol. 2 No. 2
SURVIVING YOUR NEXT HURRICANE: HOW TO PROTECT AND SALVAGE VITAL RECORDS
In keeping with the season, this article focuses on hurricanes, but most of its recommendations are also appropriate for other natural or man-made disasters. Forthcoming ADAH leaflets will offer more information on vital records protection, disaster planning and recovery, and salvaging fire- or water-damaged records. Meanwhile, assistance on these topics is available from the department's conservation officer, Linda Overman, at (334)242-4437, ext. 229.
1. Identifying and Protecting Vital RecordsVital records may be defined as records required to carry on the government's essential operations, to protect its legal and financial interests, and to assist in its recovery during a period of emergency or natural disaster. Your agency's legislative mandate, mission, and public responsibilities will define its vital records. Generally, they will comprise less than 10% of the total records volume. Many records marked as permanent in general records schedules, or as archivalin records disposition authorities, will be vital; but other records may qualify as well. The following is a basic, but not necessarily comprehensive, list:
2. What to Do When the Wind Starts BlowingWhile the following emergency measures are no substitute for a disaster plan, they may enable agencies that have no plan to get through the current storm season. Detailed recommendations on disaster planning will be included in a forthcoming ADAH leaflet. Meanwhile, if a hurricane approaches, these steps can be taken to protect your vital records:
3. Salvaging Water-Damaged RecordsWater-damaged records are usually recoverable if salvage work begins within two days. Thereafter, mold and mildew develop rapidly. Because the disaster site will be extremely humid, salvage must be undertaken elsewhere. Ideal is a clean, dry area with a temperature of 65 degrees and a relative humidity of 40%. Cover floors or tables used as work areas with plastic sheeting, and move water-damaged records with extreme care. Milk crates or similar ventilated plastic cartons are good carriers. Do not try to separate stuck-together pages as long as they are saturated. When the pages are drier, paper towels may be placed between them to absorb water. Change the towels frequently, using fans to circulate air over damaged records. Vacuum freeze-drying is the best and quickest way of drying paper records, but it is expensive and requires professional assistance. For a list of vendors, call Linda Overman (334-242-4437, ext. 229).
Damp microfiche can be air-dried on a clean, lint-free white cotton sheet. Do not unroll wet microfilm, as this may cause the emulsion layer to separate from the base film. Leave wet microfilm rolls in their containers and place them in clean water. Salvaged microfilm will not be archival-quality and must be recopied on silver-halide film. Recovery of water-damaged computer disks is problematic, and placing a wet disk in the drive can seriously damage your computer. Magnetic tapes can sometimes be hand-dried (at some risk to the data), but contact your computer equipment's manufacturer before attempting to dry the hardware. For a list of vendors who specialize in recovering computerized records, call the Government Records Division at (334)242-4452.
ADAH to Hold Training Session for State Agencies on RDA ImplementationOn September 24, 1997, the ADAH Government Records Division will conduct a training session for all state agencies with approved records disposition authorities (RDAs). Agency records liaisons or representatives (please limit participants to two per agency) will receive instruction on procedures for implementing RDAs and annual RDA reporting requirements. Also provided will be information about agency audits, record keeping compliance, and records management. The session will begin at 10:00 a.m. in the Archives and History Building's Milo B. Howard Auditorium. For more information, call Richard Wang at (334)242-4452, ext. 240.
Records Disposition Authorities and Schedules Approved by the State Records CommissionAt its meeting on July 31, 1997, the State Records Commission approved six new records disposition authorities (RDAs) for the ALABAMA BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS and MEDICAL LICENSURE COMMISSION OF ALABAMA, the ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY, the ALABAMA MEDICAID AGENCY, the DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION SERVICES, the LICENSING BOARD FOR GENERAL CONTRACTORS, and the STATE and LOCAL GOVERNMENT RECORDS COMMISSIONS.
The following new or revised general records schedules were approved by the commission:
ALABAMA COLLEGE SYSTEM: Academic Standards of Progress Records; Authorization Letters or Notices of Funding; Federal Work Study (FWS), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and Perkins Loan Files; FWS Payroll Monitors and Timesheets; Fiscal Operations Reports and Applications (FISAPs); Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) and Trade Readjustment Act (TRA) Files; NDSL/Perkins Cumulative Listings; Pell Grant Files (Title IV Student Financial Aid Files); Program Participation Agreements; Requests to View Student Admissions Records;Title IV Award Listings; and Title IV Award Summaries (12 schedules).
SECRETARY OF STATE: Federal Election Commission Reports (FEC Reports 3 and 3a) (1 schedule).
STATE-SUPPORTED UNIVERSITIES: College Work Study (CWS) and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) Files; Federal Family Educational Loan Program Files; Pell Grant Files (Title IV Student Financial Aid Files) (3 schedules).
For copies of these records disposition authorities or schedules, call the ADAH Government Records Division at (334)242-4452.
The Local Government Records Commission canceled its July meeting.
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