Once you have identified the records your organization wants to keep, the next step is determining how to maintain them. To best preserve your records, be sure to keep them in a dry, cool place. Moisture, excessive heat, and light can damage paper and audiovisual records. Also, when possible, avoid using rubber bands, staples, paperclips, tape, etc., which can damage paper when not stored in an ideal environment. When possible, store the records on steel shelving or cabinets rather than wood, which emits a gas that, over time, can be harmful to your documents.
Luckily, several student groups have an office or storage space where they can keep their records; however, if your organization lacks such a space, then you should consider donating the records to the University Archives as an alternative to passing down the records from member to member each year.
Wherever you keep the records, they have to be be kept together and filed in a way that works best for your group. Labeling all files with the full name and date of the topic will help the future members to identify them accurately. For photographs and scrapbooks, good practice includes identifying as many of the people depicted as possible.
It is very important to have an inventory of the records your organization so that they can be identified and located easily. Also, when your group is ready to donate its records to the Archives, an inventory will make the transfer process easier and quicker.
Electronic records, like email, photographs, etc., have become a large component of organizations’ files. Much like their paper counterparts, though, there are steps you can take to preserve these records and make them accessible to future members.
The University Archives collects materials related to the activities of Lehigh. We also selectively add web and social media content to our collections that will appear in the general records schedule and that fit into collecting policies. Social media may include services such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The following general principles guide our collecting decisions.
(Social media and web archiving issues are still on-going discussions and collecting & retention rules are subject to change)