Storing physical records
Section 11 of the State Records Act 1998 requires each public office to
ensure the safe custody and proper preservation of the State’s records that it has control of.
This means protecting, and thus preserving, the record through appropriate storage facilities and conditions, ensuring that the record is handled appropriately by staff, and protecting the records if a disaster should happen.
To assist public offices in understanding and implementing this obligation for physical records, the revised Standard on the physical storage of State records sets out the minimum compliance requirements for the storage of those State records which have a physical format, including:
- paper files and documents
- volumes and registers
- maps, plans, charts and drawings
- photographic media including photographic prints and negatives, film, microforms, and x-rays
- magnetic media such as digital tape, video and audio cassettes
- optical media such as CDs and DVDs, and
- digital records stored on tapes, disks, or portable hard drives.
USB memory sticks should not be used for the short or long term storage of records.
The Standard on the physical storage of State records does not cover:
- active records, as these are likely to be created on a digital format and stored in network servers or data centres, or the cloud
- storage of digital records on network servers or data centres, or the cloud
- storage of State archives.
The storage and preservation of physical records is a key element in the records management program of all public offices. Organisations are encouraged to develop a comprehensive storage plan covering all types of records and their storage locations and ensure that appropriate arrangements for storage have been made to ensure the security, maintenance and accessibility of the organisation’s records. All public sector organisations should ensure that the physical storage of records is effective in protecting records from deterioration and that the storage of records is cost efficient.
Storing records outside of NSW
There are occasions where public offices need to store records with service providers located outside of NSW. For example:
- A number of public offices such as councils, area health services and universities are located near or adjacent to State borders and the availability of suitable storage providers for hard copy records may be in a cross-border location within Australia.
- Some public offices are outsourcing business functions to service providers. These providers may have or use data storage facilities located outside of NSW for the digital records they produce.
- Some public offices are using data storage service providers whose servers are located outside of NSW.
- Sometimes public offices need to take or send records out of the State temporarily for processes such as copying or migration to other formats.In some cases, organisations located near or adjacent to State borders will be using commercial storage providers outside of New South Wales to store physical records as there are no suitable options located nearby.
To enable public offices to take and send records out of the State via arrangements with service providers, NSW State Archives and Records has approved General authority for transferring records out of NSW for storage with or maintenance by service providers based outside of the State (GA35). This general authority provides approval for the transfer of records outside of the State for storage with or maintenance by service providers based outside the State on the proviso that the records are managed in accordance with all the requirements applicable to State records under the State Records Act.
Further advice on:
- how to ensure your organisation is meeting the requirements of the State Records Act for records created and maintained outside of the State
- issues to be aware of when entering into arrangements that will entail the storage and/or maintenance of records with service providers based outside of the State.
is available from Storage of State records with service providers outside of NSW.
Further advice about cloud computing is also available.
Preserving physical records
Advice on handling and storing a range of physical record formats prepared by the National Archives of Australia:
- Preserving microforms
- Preserving archival volumes
- Preserving magnetic media
- Preserving maps and plans
- Preserving CDs and DVDs
- Preserving paper files
- Preserving photographs
Advice on handling and storing audiovisual materials such as audio discs and tapes, films, photographs, and video is available from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
Published April 2014/ revised February 2019