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Storage and Maintenance of Records in Record Rooms. By Dr. K. B.Rai Advisor A R Department Government of NCT of Delhi . Record Policy.

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storage and maintenance of records in record rooms

Storage and Maintenance of Records in Record Rooms


Dr. K. B.Rai


A R Department

Government of NCT of Delhi

record policy
Record Policy
  • As per record policy resolution of 1972, the Ministries/Departments and other public offices coming within the purview of this Resolution will be responsible for their current and semi-current records, periodical appraisal and elimination of ephemeral records and for orderly and systematic transfer of records of permanent value to the National Archives.
  • The departmental record rooms holding semi-current records should be placed in the charge of properly trained, suitable and responsible full time staff.
  • The departmental Record Officers should be responsible for the proper maintenance and management of the semi-current records entrusted to their care, for compilation and periodic revision of Retention Schedules of the Department, for appraisal and weeding of records in accordance with the procedure laid down, for compilation and issue of annual indexes to record, for compilation and issue of the organizational history of the department and annual supplements to it, for maintenance of general liaison with the National Archives, and for tendering advice generally on all matters pertaining to records management to all sections within the department.
need for record rooms and storage conditions
Need for Record Rooms and storage conditions
  • All government organizations are expected to have their own record rooms so that the semi-current and old records can be transferred there for systematic upkeep maintenance and timely weeding out.
  • Records require storage conditions and handling processes that take into account their specific physical and chemical properties.
  • Records of continuing value require higher quality storage and handling to preserve them for as long as that value exists.
  • Storage conditions and handling processes should ensure protection of records from unauthorized access, loss or destruction, and from theft and disaster.
  • The facility must be constructed with non-combustible materials and building elements, including walls, columns and floors.
  • Roof elements may, however, be constructed with combustible materials if installed in accordance with local building codes and if roof elements are protected by a properly installed, properly maintained wet-pipe automatic sprinkler system, Installation of Sprinkler Systems.
records management a specialized job
Records management a specialized job.
  • The responsibilities and authorities for systematic record management need to be defined, assigned, and promulgated so that it should be clear who is responsible for taking the necessary action.
  • The responsibility for proper up keep of records falls on all employees of the organization. However, all others including records officers, executives, systems administrators and others who create records as part of their work, should be sensitized and record management should be reflected in job descriptions and similar statements as one of their primary responsibility.
  • Specific leadership responsibility and accountability for records management should be assigned to a person with appropriate authority within the organization.
nomination of record officer
Nomination of Record Officer
  • The Public Record Act stipulates that every records creating agency shall nominate one of its officers as records officer to discharge the functions under this Act. The records officer should not be below the rank or grade of a Section Officer. A copy of office order nominating the record officer shall be forwarded to the Director General or Head of the Archives, as the case may be. Section 5ofthe Act provides as under-
  • “(1) Every records creating agency shall nominate one of its officers as records officer to discharge the functions under this Act.
  • (2) Every records creating agency may set up such number of record rooms in such places as it deems fit and shall place each record room under the charge of a records officer.”
role responsibility of record officer
Role & Responsibility of Record Officer
  • The records officer shall be responsible for under taking the following activities as per section 6 of the Act-
      • Proper arrangement, maintenance and preservation of public records under his charge;
      • Periodical review of all public records and weeding out public records of ephemeral value;
      • Appraisal of public records which are more than twenty-five years old in consultation with the National Archives of India or, as the case may be, the Archives of the Union territory with a view to retaining public records of permanent value;
      • Destruction of public records in such manner and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed under sub-section (1) of section 8;
  • Compilation of a schedule of retention for public records in consultation with the National Archives of India or, as the case may be, the Archives of the Union Territory;
  • Periodical review for downgrading of classified public records in such manner as may be prescribed;
  • Adoption of such standards, procedures and techniques as may be recommended from time to time by the National Archives of India for improvement of record management system and maintenance of security of public records;
  • Compilation of annual indices of public records;
  • Compilation of organizational history and annual supplement thereto;
  • Assisting the National Archives of India or, as the case may be, the Archives of the Union territory for public records management;
  • Submission of annual report to the Director General or, as the case may be head of the Archives in such manner as may be prescribed;
  • Transferring of records of any defunct body to the National Archives of India or the Archives of the Union Territory, as the case may be, for preservation.
duties of record officers and staff
Duties of record officers and staff
  • Apart from the Record officers a number of other officers and staff members are associated with the maintenance of records. The broad functions to be performed by the officers and staff deputed for record management are given below:
  • Departmental Record Officer
  • Planning for the proper maintenance and management of semi-current and non-current records in a scientific manner in the departmental record room.
  • To ensure transfer of all semi-current records from the sections to the departmental record room regularly and according to rules framed from time to time.
  • To ensure that all confidential/secret etc. records are de-classified by officers appointed for the purpose as per para 7 (d) of the Archival Policy Resolution and to get these de-classified records transferred to the record room for amalgamation with their respective record groups, which is, must in order to insure that no record groups get disintegrated.
  • Providing guidance to sections for proper recording, reviewing and appraisal of semi-current (Category C-type) records as per rules and archival standards.
  • Liaison work with National Archives of India and sections within the department for proper implementation of the provisions of the Archival Policy Resolution and other rules framed from time to time.
  • Preparation of Retention Schedule for records of the Central Ministries/Departments Offices and review after every five years in accordance with the Archival Policy Resolution.
  • To ensure regular review and weeding out of A and B classes of records in consultation with National Archives of India and in accordance with the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure and statutory rules framed for the purpose.
  • To ensure transfer of all records selected for permanent preservation to the National Archives of India, with lists in triplicate and properly arranged.
  • Compilation of organizational history and annual supplements to it.
  • Guiding the staff for the arrangement of semi-current records received from sections.
  • Maintenance of liaison with the National Archives of India in the day to day problems concerning management and administration of semi-current and non-current files in the departmental record room.
  • Supervision of departmental record room and the staff working under him and safeguarding of records from various enemies of records, i.e. fungi, insects like silverfish, white ants, fire etc.
record rooms
Record Rooms
  • A separate record room/stack area should be earmarked for proper upkeep of records. The record room should preferably be located either on the ground floor or in its basement. A floor load limit must be established for the records storage area by structural engineer. The limit must take into consideration the height and type of the shelving or storage equipment, the width of the aisles, the configuration of the space, etc.

In this regard the following issues need attentions-

  • The windows, if any that open into the space outside or in the courtyards in the interior should be fitted with metal grills and wire mesh nets.
  • Rain shades should be provided to avoid splashing of rainwater in the room.
  • Entry into such rooms should be regulated for the safety and security of records.
  • There should be easy movement of trolleys carrying records etc.
  • Trolleys, ramps should be provided near the entrance to allow free movement of trolleys.
  • The stack area, the record reference and reception portions should be separate as far as feasible.
  • It may be ensured that no water pipes or drains pass near, above, or under the record rooms. Its floor level should normally be above the general level of the other floors of the building so as to prevent any inflow of water in the stacks due to blockage of drains/sewers or accidental damage to water pipes in the building,
air conditioning
  • Storage of records in an air-conditioned atmosphere is conducive to its longevity. As such it is desirable to air-condition the record rooms. Paper-based permanent records must be stored in records storage space that provides 24 hour/365 days per year air conditioning (temperature, humidity, and air exchange) equivalent to that required for office space. Air-conditioner or window type air-conditioner should be installed where the buildings are not having central air conditioning.
  • The air conditioning facility should be able to serve the load comprising of bulk of shelving equipment, archive material, the number of persons sitting in the record room, the bulk of records moving in and out, and the lighting wattage etc.
  • Humidity and temperature in air-conditioned record room should be measured regularly. The ambient conditions for storage of records are -
    • temperature 22*C – 25*C and
    • relative humidity 45%.
  • In order to maintain proper humidity control in the conditioned area, it is necessary that permeation of dampness through the walls or floors does not take place.
  • For effective air-conditioning, ventilation should be so planned as to permit minimum leakage of the conditioned atmosphere.
  • The floor should be laid waterproof and the walls should be given waterproof oil paint coating.
  • A provision for stand by plant should be made to avoid damage to records.
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non air conditioned area
Non Air-conditioned Area
  • In cases where due to economy or fiscal problems it may not be feasible to get record rooms air-conditioned steps should be taken to provide circulation of air in the record storage room by providing air-circulators, fans and exhaust fans to counteract the effect of high humidity and prevent formation of pockets of stagnant air in the storage room. In this regard the following issues need consideration -
  • Chemicals, like silica gel or anhydrous calcium chloride in enameled or glazed earthen pots should be used to reduce humidity in the room.
  • Mechanical dehumidifiers may be used to check the deleterious influence of excessively humid climate.
  • Temperature in record room should be kept within reasonable range by choosing such rooms, which are located in the interior or have a verandah around them.
  • Room coolers may be installed during summer.
  • Care should be taken to see that direct sunlight does not fall on the records. Ground glass panes or heat resistant glass panes may be fitted on the windows.
  • Provision of curtains may be done to create desired atmosphere.
shelving system
Shelving system
  • Records should be stored on such a media that ensures their usability, reliability, authenticity and preservation for as long as they are needed. Issues relating to the maintenance, handling and storage of records arise throughout their existence, not only when they become inactive. Shelving in a record room should be functional, durable easy to clean, simple in design and which offers maximum protection to records. It should provide maximum safety from fire, dust etc, and offer maximum facility and convenience for servicing. In this regard the following issues need consideration -
  • All storage shelving and racking systems must be designed and installed to provide seismic bracing that meets the requirements of the state laws.
  • Shelves should be fixed away from the walls on upright fixers and at equidistance throughout the storage area.
  • Racking system/ steel shelving or other open-shelf records storage equipment must be braced to preventcollapse under full load.
  • Distance between successive shelf rows may vary from 0.71 M to 1 M with a central gangway of 1.5-2 M or it may depend on the dimensions of records/files and the manner of keeping the record series on them.
  • The guidelines laid down in “IS: 2663-1964 Code of Practice for the Basic Elements in the Design of Buildings for Achieves” may be followed.
  • The steel shelving, where provided, should be painted rust proof. The paint should be stable and non-injurious to documents.
  • Steel shelves may preferably be slotted for vertical free circulation of air.
  • Where wooden shelves are provided the wood should be protected againsttermite infestation.
  • Sharp edges and corners in the shelves should be rounded off to avoid physical damage to documents.
storage system
Storage system
  • Appropriate storage environment and media, physical protective materials, handling procedures and storage systems should be considered, when designing the records system. It should meet the need of the records to be kept and maintained. The records system should take care of disaster preparedness to ensure that risks are identified and mitigated.
  • The documents preserved in record room differ in size and shape and commonly consist of variety of items like bound volumes, loose sheets, files, manuscripts, maps, charts, plans & drawings. As such shelving arrangement needs to be made for each type of materials according to the nature, shape and bulk of the material. In this regard the following issues need consideration -
  • While designing the shelves, it may be ensured that neither the nor the materials kept on them touch shelves the walls, ceilings or the floor.
  • The distance from wall, ceiling and floor should be at least six inches (15 cm.).
  • The records should be loosely packed on the shelves to enable free circulation of air and prevent formation of pockets of high humidity.
  • Unbound records may either be tied between 2 pieces of 5 ply boards or kept in carton boxes for safety.
  • Stepladders or platform type ladders and trolleys fixed with swivel castors may be used for movement and proper servicing of records.
use of chemicals sprays
Use of chemicals/sprays
  • To eliminate damage to records and/or loss of information due to insects, rodents, mold and other pests that are attracted to organic materials under specific environmental conditions, the facility must have an Integrated Pest Management program (IPM). The Integrated Pest Management is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes where types of risks. The IPM program emphasizes three fundamental elements viz prevention, least toxic methods and system approach -
  • (1) It should be able to provide preventive maintenance process that seeks to identify and eliminate potential pest access, shelter, and nourishment.
  • (2) It should aim at minimizing both pesticide use and risk through alternate control techniques that present the lowest potential hazard to humans and the environment; and
  • (3) The pest control contract must be effectively coordinated with all other relevant programs that operate in and around a building, including plans and procedures involving design and construction, repairs and alterations, cleaning, waste management, food service, and other activities.
  • The record room should be sprayed with insecticide solutions beneath the shelves, behind the cabinets and also in corners etc for safeguarding the records against damage due to insect infestation.
  • Guidelines for control and prevention of termite infestation in archives and libraries issued by National Archives should be followed.
  • Cleanliness should be maintained so that termites and other insects do not find hiding place for damage and propagation.
  • All cracks in the floor and walls should be filled up to deny any hiding place to pests. Spray guns or pressure guns or any other similar equipment may be used.
  • Water loging around building and dump spots in the building should be removed.
  • Such of the chemicals should only be sprayed which do not have any adverseeffect on the durability and permanency of paper and other record components.
  • Preservatives like naphthalene in the form of balls tied in meshed cloth or bricks kept on shelves should be used to keep the records safe from insects.
  • The insecticide formulations like flit and other related insecticides which have durable effect should be used regularly.
  • Entry of rodents into the record room should be checked, by using proper wire mesh at the outlet drains.
  • Rattraps should be kept handy for eliminating their menace in case of their entry in the record room.
  • Assistance of National Archives should be sought when any insect infestation or fungus growth is noticed or detected.
  • Anti- termite treatment during construction of the building should be taken.
dusting arrangements
Dusting arrangements
  • Regular dusting should be done in the storage area with the help of a vacuum cleaner to remove dust from the stored material. The record room itself should also be kept absolutely clean. Staff engaged in dusting should be provided with dust respirators.
lighting system
Lighting system
  • Good lighting is necessary for every record room. Modern lighting practice is to provide defused lights of varying intensity for different rooms. Lighting can be improved by using paints that reflect light.
fire fighting arrangements
Fire Fighting Arrangements
  • Fire is the biggest menace that needs to be controlled to check loss of valuable records. The fire detection and protection systems must be designed or reviewed by fire service department. All interior walls separating records storage areas from each other and from other storage areas in the building must be at least one-hour fire barrier walls. In this regard the following issues need consideration –
  • As far as possible the record room should be made fire resistant.
  • Large record rooms should be divided into separate fire resistant compartments and additional automatic dampers should be installed in the centrally air- conditioned ducts to ensure the immediate closure and thereby preventing the spread of fire to other compartments.
  • It to provide emergency exits, besides the is advisable main entry door to the record room to remove valuable archival material to safety, when necessary. Every record room should be fitted with a fire detection alarm system to detect any fire in the storage area.
  • All electric wiring should be through conduit pipes and the main control switches of lights etc. installed in the storage area should be located outside the record room so as to protect against any accidental fire.
  • Use of naked light, heaters and smoking in the room should be prohibited.
  • All light and power circuits should be switched off after office hours.
  • Watch and Ward Staff provided for this area may use torches, if necessary.
  • Water pipes and hoses should be installed at convenient points to fight any major conflagration.
  • All equipments for fire detection/combating should be checked at regular intervals to ensure their being in active operative state at all times.
  • Use of temporary lights, loose and ordinary flexible wire for fans, air-circulators and other electrical appliances for the repository should be avoided and instead electrical appliances and fittings in the repository should be periodically checked for loose connections and defects rectified.
  • The area occupied by the records storage facility must be equipped with an anti-intrusion alarm system, or equivalent, meeting the requirements appropriate ISI Standard.
  • No oil-type electrical transformers except thermally protected devices included in fluorescent light ballasts, may be installed in the records storage areas.
  • Hazardous materials, including records on cellulose nitrate film, must not be stored in records storage areas.
  • For combating fires, adequate equipment of carbon dioxide should be provided at suitable places in the building for easy accessibility.
  • All staff members connected with the storage of records should be trained in fire fighting.
  • A fire drill may be arranged at least once in two months to keep the trained staff alert.
  • Instructions regarding prevention of fire and fire fighting in case of fire for the common man should beprominently displayed in the record room.
  • Telephone number of District Fire Service for contact in emergency should be prominently displayed at a central place in the record room.
minimum security standards
Minimum Security Standards
  • It should have the following facilities –
    • Parking space sufficient to meet the official and clients requirements.
    • Closed circuit television monitoring system. Twenty-four hour CCTV surveillance and recording is desirable at all locations as a deterrent.
    • Lighting with emergency power back up adequate enough to meet day to day requirements
    • Security in and around the premises. The number of guards at any given time will depend on the size of the facility, the hours of operation, and current risk factors, etc.
    • X-ray & magnetometer should be installed at public entrances.
  • All packages entering building should be subject to x-ray screening and/or visual inspection.
  • Record producing agency should seek photo id for all personnel who visit it.
  • Visitor control/screening system should be devised
  • Unauthorized access to utility areas should be checked
  • Provide emergency power to critical systems (alarm systems, radio communications, computer facilities, etc.)
  • Precaution should be to taken to avoid eatables, smoking, and carrying naked flame in the storage area. Constant staff vigilance is essential for maintenance of proper record rooms.
storage equipments
Storage Equipments
  • The record rooms need sufficient equipment well designed for mass storage of records. These can be classified into three categories, vertical, lateral and power.
  • Vertical Equipment: The most commonly used equipment in records management is the standard four/ five drawer cabinets. Open shelf filling system is another type of vertical equipment used by and large. The open shelf system provides for maximum utilization of the space. It helps in placing large number of files and registers from floor to upward space. It is recommended only where the records are to be removed with the folders intact but is not recommended where documents are removed from the folders. Vertical file is mostly used for inactive records.
  • Vertical Rotary Files: Several types of vertical rotary files have been developed which holds considerably more files than the standard file. The retrieval is fast and convenient in this system due to rotators.
  • Lateral Equipment: The lateral equipment uses pull out drawers that require considerably less space than the standard file cabinets. Storing of records in drawers than in open shelves may expedite retrieval. Since the lateral equipment can be locked this seems to be better than the open shelf filing.
  • Power Filing Equipment: Power filing equipment reduce the need for number of personnel needed in the records management function and the resultant saving from labour costs may offset the cost of equipment. Three types of power equipment are available – Rotary; Structural and Mobile.
  • Rotary Power Files: This is used in hospitals etc. and is used for storing information about customers, or clients or patients records. Power is used to rotate the mechanism until the desired file bin is accessible. The record functionary can retrieve the required record easily.
  • Structural Power Files: Under this system, at the press of button, an electronic eye scans and locates the proper record bin and a retrieval mechanism pushes it to the operator who removes the desired file.
  • Mobile Filing Equipment: Under this system files are stored back to back against one another. A railing system facilitates the backward and forward movement of shelves. Space is created by moving the shelves to the desired shelf.
handling of records
Handling of records
  • The Manual of Office Procedure lays down the following procedure for handling records.
  • Recorded files will be kept serially arranged in the sections/desks concerned for not more than one year, after which they will be transferred to the departmental record room. For files due for such transfer the register at Appendix 24 of MOP will be consulted.
  • In the event of transfer of work from one section to another, the relevant files also will be transferred, after being listed in duplicate in the form at Appendix 29 of MOP. The section taking over the files for its record will retain one copy of this list and the other acknowledged and returned to the section transferring them.
  • Files transferred by a section to the departmental record room will be accompanied by a list of files Appendix 29 of MOP in duplicate. The departmental record room will verify that all the files mentioned in the list have been received, retain one copy of the list and return the other, duly signed, to the section concerned. In the record room, these lists will be kept section-wise in separate file covers
  • The departmental record room will maintain a record review register Appendix 30 of MOP in which a few pages will be allotted for each future year. Class `C' files marked for review in a particular year will be entered in the pages earmarked for that year in the register.
  • Files surviving the review undertaken on their attaining the 25th year of life will be stamped prominently as `transferred to NAI' and retired to the National Archives. Files transferred to the National Archives will be accompanied by a list (in triplicate), one copy of which will be returned by the National Archives, duly signed, to the departmental record room.
  • Record rooms will be properly ventilated, with adequate lighting and fire-safety equipment and avoid exposure to moisture. The records will be arranged serially section-wise and will be regularly dusted. For proper preservation the records will be periodically fumigated and mothballs will be used.
  • In a computerized environment, it would be useful to maintain listof records in electronic form, in the Departmental Record Room.
  • Transfer of permanent records: All records scheduled, as permanent shall be transferred to the National Archives/State Archives after the period specified in accordance with procedures specified under.
  • Requisitioning of records: No recorded file will be issued from the sectional, departmental or Archival records except against a signed requisition in form prescribed under Public Records Act, 1993 in the case of Archival records and in the form at Appendix 34 of MOP in the case of other records.
  • The department concerned will be endorsed requisitions for files belonging to other departments and in the custody of the National Archives before they are sent to the Archives. If the requisitioned file happens to be a confidential one, the Archives will not supply the file direct to the requisitioning department but route it through the department to which it belongs.
  • The requisition will be kept in the place of the file issued.
  • If the requisitioned file is one that has been microfilmed or printed, normally a microfilmed or printed copy and not the original will be issued to the requisitioning department.
  • If a requisitioned file initially obtained for being put up in one case is subsequently put up on another, a fresh requisition should be given to the section daftry or sent to the departmental record room or the National Archives, as the case may be, for replacing the original requisition which will be returned to the office concerned. In the case of records obtained from the National Archives, the fresh requisition slip will be prominently marked `change slip'.
  • On return, the requisitioned file will be restored to its place and the requisition returned to the section/official concerned.
  • Files obtained by a section from the departmental record room will normally be returned within 3 months. If they are not received back within this period, the departmental record room will remind the section concerned. For this purpose, the record room will maintain a simple register for keeping a record of the files issued to the various sections each month. A similar register will be maintained by each section as a record of files borrowed from it by other sections.
  • Files obtained by a department from the National Archives will not normally be retained for more than 6 months except with the latter's specific knowledge and consent.