Frequently Asked Questions

The following serves as a general introduction to the Bates College Archives and the records services it provides to all college offices.  It is not intended as a final policy statement (although some policies are described herein), but rather as an aid to guide the development of the College’s records management and campus-wide retention and disposition (R&D) schedules.  The development of R&D schedules at Bates is on-going task; please contact Sam Howes for the most recent information.

What is the Archives and what does it do?

The Archives is mandated by the Board of Trustees to be the official repository for items pertaining to the history and administration of Bates College.  These are records and other materials that document the history and development of the College from its inception to the present and that have permanent administrative, legal, fiscal or historical value.  The Archives ensures the proper long-term preservation and storage of these records, and makes them available for research.

Why should I transfer my records to the Archives?

The Archives can provide the proper and stable physical climate for the records — no records of enduring value should ever be stored in basements, attics, closets, or other environmentally unstable or physically unsecured areas.  The Archives also provides the expertise and equipment to ensure the long-term survival of material through preservation and conservation techniques, such as migration of media from one format to the next to prevent obsolescence.  In addition, proper archival description helps to make records readily and quickly accessible to researchers and staff.

What will happen to the records I transfer? Can I see them again? Can anyone or everyone?

Records transferred to the Archives are housed in our closed stacks — no one has access to the stacks except the Archives staff.  Records which are available for public research are described (processed) and displayed via indexes (finding aids) on the Archives web page. Records which are designated as closed or restricted by the transferring department are not open for research except to the record creator(s) until the agreed upon time period has elapsed.  Some records, such as student transcripts, will never be open for public research but should still be transferred to the Archives because of their permanent value.  All records transferred to the Archives are available for viewing by the transferring office, and even restricted records can be made available for research by allowance of the records creator.  The Archives does not make decisions about opening records for research on its own.  Archival records are not loaned to patrons, and research materials do not leave the Archives public reading room.

What is records management? Why do we need it?

Records management (RM) can perhaps be best defined as the “systematic control of records throughout their life cycle,” from creation/receipt, through maintenance and use, to final disposition.  Records management ensures the identification of long-term or permanent records and their efficient transfer to the archives, the scheduled destruction of non-permanent records, and a more efficient use of storage space, both in administrative offices as well as in the Archives.  Efficient RM can also promote increased office productivity — for example, a recent study showed that computer users spend 7.5 percent of their time looking for misplaced electronic files — save money, and help avoid any legal issues arising out of improperly deleted or maintained files.  The Archives offers several records management services to the Bates community.  These include temporary storage for non-permanent records that must be maintained for a discrete number of years, the confidential destruction of records, and records retention and disposition schedules.

Why do we need records retention and disposition schedules?

Retention and disposition (R&D) schedules provide a systematic way to allow staff to ensure that records are being saved or disposed of in a regular manner.  Systematic development of campus-wide R&D schedules, as opposed to ones created ad hoc by individual offices, help eliminate duplication of effort and inefficiency.