Provenance the Web Magazine

ISSN 1203-8954 - Vol.2, No.1 - December 1996

For the record: Managing paper and data at the Greater Victoria Public Library, Victoria, B.C.

By: Jan Glide

Record keeping at the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL) in Victoria, British Columbia is a combination of computer disk and paper record keeping. Several departments handle designated divisions of the records.

To begin with, the Administrative Assistant is in charge of the record keeping of the agendas and minutes of meetings held by the Board, Management teams, Union-Management and other miscellaneous meetings. Filing and storing copies of contracts, budgets, annual reports, correspondence, and surveys are also the Administrative Assistant's responsibility.

Records are kept for a divers periods of years. For instance, annual reports are kept current for 10 years, then transferred for historical/permanent storage. Grievances and arbitration are kept current for 5 years, then transferred for historical/permanent storage. Janitorial contracts, on the other hand, are kept in the current file for 1 year; the previous 2 years are kept in the "transfer file". Then after a contract has been in the files for 3 years, it is destroyed. In other words, at any one time, there will be 3 years of janitorial contracts in the files. Some information such as job descriptions are kept only until the information is replaced, superseded or obsolete.

A more sample breakdown of the length of storage for different files is provided in Appendix A which was prepared by the Administrative Assistant of the GVPL.

Most files, paper and disk, kept by the Administrative Assistant are stored in file cabinets at the GVPL. Current information in use is in the computer, and is backed-up each month on computer disk. Historical records such as board minutes, which date back to 1923, and diaries dating back to 1906 are stored off-site at the Data Base File Tech Warehouse in Victoria. There are a small number of files kept by the branches of the library. Paper records are still a big part of the file records at the library, and paper copies are made for most records.

Payroll and personnel records are kept separate from the records maintained by the Administrative Assistant. The person in charge of these records is the Payroll/Personnel Officer. She maintains the payroll records and the personnel records in separate files in cabinets in the office. Each employee has his/her own personnel file.

Before 1994, these records of the library were kept at the Victoria Municipal Hall as library staff are employed by the City of Victoria with an agreement with the surrounding municipalities. These records are still held at City Hall.

Payroll and personnel records from 1994 are filed at GVPL. The ACCPAC computer program is used for the payroll record keeping, but detailed payroll information reports are copied to paper from which the Payroll Officer works. Records in the computer are backed up on disk weekly and kept in a fireproof safe at the library. If necessary, records are backed up on disk more often. The personnel records are filed in file cabinets in the office.

Most payroll/personnel records are kept, by law, for 7 years. Personnel and sick leave records are kept for 10 years. See Appendix A for a complete listing of records held by the Payroll/Personnel Officer.

The Purchasing Officer is also part of the administration office staff record keepers. He is in charge of purchasing supplies and furniture, accounts payable and accounts receivable. With the exception of accounts receivable listing, audited financial statements, and the accounts payable listing which are archived, the remaining records are stored at the library for 7 years then destroyed. Catalogues and flyers/pamphlets are filed until superseded.

All but one company bills using paper invoices. The exception invoices by e-mail, and the library prints the e-mail invoice and keeps it on record.

Technical Services or Cataloguing/Acquisitions retain their own financial files on paper and file in cabinets in Technical Services. Invoices for library materials plus cheque summaries - summaries of all cheques sent to vendors for payment of invoices - are filed in Acquisitions for 7 years: current - 2 years plus 5 years in transfer. A correspondence file is also stored in Acquisitions. Two years plus the current year are kept. Journal entries and fiscal year-end information including all credits and debits to materials budgets and the year-end documentation , including year-end budget statement are retained for 2 years current plus 5 years transfer. The budget statement for library materials is updated monthly and retained for the current year plus one. The sequential numbers of cheques written by Technical Services staff are sent to the Comptroller/Treasurer to be recorded and filed.

Once book and audio-visual (A-V) material are ordered and received and a record is completed on-line in the computer by a clerk or librarian, it is stored on disk by Computer Operations. Records of books and A-V are also stored on-line in the catalogue for use of library patrons and staff on an on-going basis. This material will remain in the system until it is withdrawn by a clerk or librarian.

The Comptroller/Treasurer receives much of the data of the preceding departments for his records. For example, Technical Services sends the numbers of all cheques they write for daily recording. Cancelled cheques are filed separately from the cheque number records. The same applies for cheques written by the Purchasing Officer. A copy of the payroll is filed in the storage room on-site.

Cash registers are cleared and the tapes are filed with the bank deposit daily. Computer records are backed-up daily by the Comptroller-Treasurer. The month end accumulates from the beginning of the fiscal year eg. January, January-February, January-February-March, etc., and is saved on cassette tapes which are stored at the Payroll/Personnel Officer's home.

The inventory of the library is controlled by the Comptroller/Treasurer. Since it has been allowed to get out-of-date, the Comptroller/Treasurer is in the process of compiling a current inventory with the intention of up-dating it monthly.

The Comptroller/Treasurer records are a combination of paper and disk or cassette, which are backed-up on computer daily with storage of current material in the office and transfer files stored in the storage room on-site with the exception of the month-end summaries.

Computer Operations are situated on-site at the main branch of the library. The Systems Supervisor is in charge of this department. Computer Operations produces all the invoices for overdue material plus "holds" notices. The status of all books and A-V material is entered into the computer system by the clerks.

All database files are backed-up daily by the Computer Operations staff on cassette tapes if they need updating. Everything is backed-up weekly. The back-up disks are stored for a month off-site at one of the branches. Because of limited disk space, statistical data such as number of books borrowed in a specific time period or how many holds are placed, etc., is kept for 18 months in the computer.

Paper reports prepared from statistical data by Computer Operations are stored by the person who requested them according to their use.

In conclusion, most of the records of the GVPL are kept on-site at one of the branches, usually the main branch. Although much of the work is done on computers, paper records are still a big part of the library's operation.

Copyright © 1996 Jan Glide



The Records Retention Schedule was created for three basic reasons:

  1. to identify and protect valuable records
  2. to authorize the disposal of records that are no longer of value
  3. to comply with the Freedom of Information and Privacy Legislation

The Records Retention Schedule establishes the life cycle of a record. It determines when the active life of a record ends and when it may be transferred to an inactive storage area and establishes the time and method of disposing of the record.

The Schedule will ensure that all departments may now regularly send in any information to the Administrative Assistant that is no longer required. It helps to ensure that important information is permanently preserved.

The implementation of the Schedule provides a systematic approach to retention of our records and disposal as required. Some of the most obvious benefits of the Schedule include:

  • speedy retrieval when required
  • protection from premature destruction
  • scheduled disposal once their value has ceased
  • reduction in storage space
  • improved operational efficiency
  • reduced duplication within the Library
Current Refers to current contract in existence.
Permanent Records are never destroyed and kept in storage area after designated time period has elapsed for that record.
Destroy Records are destroyed after designated time period has elapsed for that record.
P or D Go through file and selectively archive or destroy records after designated time period has elapsed for that record.
Replace/Superseded/Obsolete Record is kept in active storage area until item or policy is replaced or superseded, or until the record is obsolete.

SAMPLE from "Records Retention Schedule"
Accident/Disturbance Reports 7 - D
- A-Team 2 - D
- Library Board 2 - D
- M-Team 2 - D
- Miscellaneous 2 - D
- Union-Management 2 - D
Annual Reports 10 - P
Appreciation and Complaint 10 - P or D
Art 4 - P
Book Deposit 5 - D
Branches 2 5 P or D
Budget - Keep all information 4 - P or D
Budget - Provisional & Final - - P
- Arbitration / Grievance 5 - P
- Billing /Request for Union Leave
- General Correspondence
- Request for Work Experience
sample sample sample
Central Library - Various Files 2 5 P or D
Gap in sample
- Canadian Union of Public Employees
- Intermunicipal Agreement
- Leases - Central Library etc.
- Cleaning
- Geac .... etc.
sample sample sample
Disaster Planning (Health / Safety) 10 - P or D
Friends of the Library / Book Sales / Friendshop 5 - P or D
History 5 - P
Job Descriptions - Exempt P - P
Job Descriptions - Clerical Current - R/S/O
Job Descriptions - Librarians Current - R/S/O
Job-Sharing 5 - R/S/O
Labour Relations 2 5 D
Performance Appraisals Current - R/S/O
Salary Charts 5 5 P
Sexual Harassment 7 - P or D
Sons of Scotland P - P
Victoria Free-Net 7 - P or D
The end end end end

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