Return to Campus: Records Management Considerations

As Columbia begins the return to “normal University life in September,” it’s time to think about our offices and our records. Here are some recommendations in an effort to ease our transition back to campus life.

From Home

Office of University Admissions, 1949. Manny Warman, University Photographer. Scan #4924. Historical Photograph Collection, University Archives.

Any records created or received during the work-from-home period should be on the University systems.

  • Don’t leave University records at home. Be sure to move University records from your personal devices to the University’s official record-keeping systems.
  • Avoid multiple copies. Try to avoid creating copies of records in various places that you will need to manage.
  • Purge old files. Go through electronic files and purge the digital ROT (redundant, obsolete, or trivial materials). An important part of records management is getting rid of materials you don’t need.

Back on Site

As you return to campus, it’s time to think about those paper or physical records that you have not been able to access during the pandemic.

  • Assess your files. What records did you need? What records did you NOT need? Are you keeping records “just in case”? This is a great opportunity to figure out what you need to hold on to (based on use or based on regulations) and what you can safely discard.
  • Know the rules. Records need to be kept to comply with best practices, local usage, regulations and laws. We can help you sort these out. Please visit our Managing University Records website or contact us at

COVID-19 Records

Records not normally considered to have long-term value may now have historical or research value. The University Archives is working to ensure that the essential evidence of activities, decisions, and programs in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency is preserved and available in the future. To help us in this goal, we encourage you to identify and preserve the following documents:

  • Subject and correspondence files and other records of the chief executive and senior leadership.
  • Records of public relations, including news releases, policy announcements and publications that summarize positions and response to the public health emergency.
  • Summary documentation of accommodations implemented as a result of the pandemic.

If you have any records-related questions or would like us to help you review your files, please reach out to us at