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The wonderful world of the record retention schedule .. or how to avoid drowning in paper

19th February 2018 in Archives Centre

This term the College Library team have been turning our attention to preparations for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect in May this year. We have been working our way through both paper and digital files, using the records retention schedule to move files to more appropriate locations such as the recent records store, the College Archive, or in many cases, the shredder!

Like most offices, we’ve amassed a lot of paper over the years. The library office currently has 5 filing cabinets of paper files. Our task is not yet complete (we still have one cabinet left to sort through), but we are very pleased to have cleared up enough files to remove one of the cabinets entirely, giving us more space in the office.

As well as finding extra space, we have also uncovered some hidden gems. The hand-drawn exam preparation poster shown below will be used this Easter Term in our well-being promotions. We also found an exhibition catalogue for ‘Conservation: a Display of Achievements, New Techniques and Materials’ held at the Parker Library in 1987 – Corpus Christi College’s Parker Library did not have a copy of this and ours was in pristine condition so they were delighted to take it.

Cartoon on exam stress


Hand-drawn study skills poster (contact details for the student welfare rep have been redacted from the bottom of the image).

Churchill College Library is proud to have been an early adopter of computerised library systems - our library team (led by Alan Findlay and Mary Kendall) were pioneers in this area. A wealth of articles, reports and letters have been moved to the College Archive. Mary Kendall was also one of the College Libraries representatives on the Union Catalogue project (the first combined catalogue for libraries across the university) so we had a number of papers relating to this project, and these have been sent to the University Archive.

We are going through digital files in much the same way, and have found it useful to add notes to each folder in the Library drive listing the records retention policy for that type of information, which will help us to keep on top of things going forward.

The Records Manager and College Archivist Hannah James has been wonderfully helpful in guiding us through the process. We still have work to do, but we’re happy with the progress we’ve made in the Library office so far, and the end is in sight!

Emptied files


Over 100 empty files (documents moved to College Archives are re-housed in conservation-grade boxes).

Emptied filing cabinets


Empty drawers and bags to be sent for shredding.

— Annie Gleeson, Librarian.

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