Section 12 Setting up a Mission Records Storage Facility

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1 Section 12 Setting up a Mission Records Storage Facility Contents Main things to Remember about Setting up a Mission Records Storage Facility Introduction Minimum Standard for Semi-active Records Storage Issues to Consider when Establishing Semi-active Storage Space Facilities Management Other Relevant Toolkit Sections Documents Glossary Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Main Things to Remember about Setting up a Mission Records Storage Facility Keep it cool, dry and with minimal entry of sunlight It must be well-maintained Check/monitor the mission records storage facility on a daily basis Keep the mission records storage facility securely locked at all times Introduction Field missions will need to store close to the office semi-active records that are still needed for reference purposes by the mission, instead of transferring them to ARMS. Your Information Management Officer is responsible for ensuring that the storage space is suitable and carefully selected according to the ARMS standards outlined below. Where storage has already been organised, this section can be used as a checklist to audit the facility. Examples of semi-active storage space include: The mission s records storage facility/record centre Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 1 of 9

2 Closets in office space File cabinets in office space A back-up server (for electronic records) Where possible, semi-active records are best stored in the mission records storage facility/records centre because records staff are best placed to handle environmental control, record storage, retrieval services and other issues discussed in this section. Wherever you keep your semi-active records, it has to conform to some minimum physical standards to ensure that they are not at risk of: Deterioration Unauthorized access Destruction by fire, flood or other disaster This means you need to be sure that the storage area is lockable and can only be accessed by authorized colleagues with a genuine need to view the records. You also need to be sure that the space is adequately protected from fire, flood and other disasters. Minimum Standard for Semi-active Records Storage In order to comply with ARMS standards, semi-active records storage must: Allow the timely retrieval of stored records meeting office-defined targets Protect records from fire, flood and other damage Restrict access to appropriate individuals and provide adequate security to prevent unauthorised access Maintain environmental conditions that meet applicable standards1 Be free of any water, gas or electricity supply running through it Be racked out with shelving that has a top shelf acting as a roof and a bottom shelf at least 6 inches/15 cm off the ground 1 Temperatures at or below 64.5 F/18 C and relative humidity of 40-45% Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 2 of 9

3 Information Box Draft specifications for Systems Contract for Containers for Records Storage Missions may wish to use the sample specifications for containers for archival storage as a guide Issues to Consider when Establishing Semi-active Storage Space Size The size of the records centre should stabilise when the volume of records coming in no longer exceeds the volume of records disposed of. A simple record survey together with your retention schedule can help assess and calculate the amount of space required. Additional guidance is available in the sample budget proposal for essential supplies to establish records management programme. Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 3 of 9

4 Information Box Recommendations for Planning Semi-active Storage Look for a large open space with fairly high ceilings which can be more efficiently racked out with shelving than several small spaces Allow ample time to design the floor layout to ensure the maximum overall shelving (and therefore box) capacity Check the floor loading to ensure it can bear the weight you are planning shelving and boxes/records Remember that mobile racking is more space-efficient but it is more expensive and requires increased floor loading If you want very high shelving, consider access equipment (ladders etc) and staff safety Allow 36 inches/91 cm aisle width between runs of shelving and consult applicable fire regulations Allow 48 inches/122 cm for main gangways and consult applicable fire regulations Records Types and Formats Different media have different storage requirements and you may need separate or special storage for certain types of record. For example digital and magnetic media should be stored in special racking. These media also require different environmental conditions from paper, as do audio-visual media. It is unlikely that you will be able to have separate storage areas for different media, but when you set your environmental standard you will need to find a workable compromise so that all media have the best chance of being accessible for as long as they are required. Environmental Controls Although paper is surprisingly robust, it is good practice to store paper records in an environment which has low temperature and humidity. Digital and magnetic media as well as audio-visual media such as photographic prints, film and microfilm require more stringent environmental conditions. All these media suffer if the environment fluctuates. Depending on your geographical location you need to decide whether you want to have an air-conditioning system installed or if you can find a building with inbuilt thermal stability. If you decide Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 4 of 9

5 to have air-conditioning this requires careful management to ensure that it is working to the set parameters, that it remains on even when no humans are present, and that it is regularly maintained. Cleaning and Dust Control All record storage areas get dusty and it is important to keep dust in perspective. It can be very damaging for magnetic and digital media but not particularly for paper. You will need to ensure the semi-active records storage is regularly cleaned as is appropriate for the media which is stored there. Cleaning can be a security risk if it is not done by trusted or carefully supervised cleaners, as well as a risk to the records if it is not carried out in accordance with best practice for records repositories. You will want to make sure that cleaning methods involve no risk of water or chemical damage to the records and that the cleaners are aware of the special requirements of this kind of operation. Cost There are a number of cost elements to take into account when setting up semiactive records storage: Set up cost of building and equipment (including computers) Maintenance costs such as: rent or rates, general building maintenance, specific equipment Security Insurance Services: delivery, destruction Utilities Table: Pros and Cons of on- and off-site storage On-site Advantages Easy access and swift retrieval Assured security Resources already available therefore cost may be less On-site Disadvantages Accommodation likely to be limited Possible lack of capacity Unsuitable storage basements, pipes, odd shapes, low ceilings Off-site Advantages Off-site Disadvantages Purpose-built or converted set up Security can be difficult to achieve Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 5 of 9

6 with full knowledge of the risks and risks compensated for Low-cost location High capacity Disaster protection can be good Access may be difficult Retrieval at a distance can be difficult and expensive Higher transportation costs Records Retrieval In deciding where to situate your semi-active records storage, you need to consider how access and retrieval can be managed. Will there be a person there to deal with requests for access to records? If so, do you want retrieval requests to be received by fax, post, and/or phone? In that case, you need to make sure the equipment is procured and installed (including lines). If, as is more likely, someone from the office has to go and fetch the records, you need to decide what a reasonable turn-around time is. Transfers of Records from the Office to Semi-active Records Storage With respect to transferring records from the office to the storage area, the main issue is secure access to the facility. Ideally you need a loading bay which is solely for the use of your office. You also need to consider how the records will be transported. Ideally the field mission should transport records in their own vehicles. Before your mission can use a contractor your mission s Information Management Officer needs to get legal approval so as to ensure that the privileges and immunities and other provisions of the UN Charter are protected. If a contractor is used they must be vetted to ensure they are reliable and understand the security and protection issues involved in transporting records and agreement to fulfil these conditions must be part of the contract. Security In selecting your storage location and building you will need to ensure the storage is secure from unauthorised access. You will need to balance the threat posed by neighbours with the threat posed by no neighbours. You also need to make sure that you specify high security standards in procuring or refitting the storage. Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 6 of 9

7 Non-storage Space If your storage is at a distance from the office, you will need to consider what other facilities are needed. These include: Reception/sorting area large enough to cope with new consignments Destruction area, a separate area for records earmarked for destruction Office space (dependent on number of staff and how much of the time they are likely to be there) Office equipment (computer, telephone, photocopier, fax machine) Micrographics and/or digitisation facilities Equipment You will need to decide what equipment you need and what will best suit your needs and resources. When procuring shelving, ladders and trolleys, consult with ARMS staff. Guidance is also available in the sample budget proposal for essential supplies to establish records management programme and the sample specifications for containers for archival storage. You will also need boxes and ARMS recommends that you use a box which is compatible with their standard box (details in the Toolkit section Managing Records in a Mission Records Storage Facility). Using the box as a starting place, you can calculate the width and depth of shelving that you require to ensure that boxes fit comfortably but not wastefully on the shelves. Facilities Management Once you have selected your semi-active storage it will require facilities management, the same as other UN buildings accommodation. You must maintain and monitor the storage facility to ensure it continues to meet security and environmental standards. There is a checklist at the end of this section that gives tasks and procedures that need to be instituted to ensure that the storage area is well-maintained. Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 7 of 9

8 Checklist: Maintenance of Semi-active Storage Space There is a cleaning regime that does not involve using chemicals, water etc in a way that could be harmful to the records There is a regular maintenance routine to makes sure that: Roofs are sound Drains and gutters are not blocked Doors and windows are secure Fire, flood and burglar alarms are tested It is the practice to walk through the storage area daily to make sure that all is well, there has been no water incursion or forced entry, there is no sign of rodent or insect activity, boxes have not been left standing on the floor, there is no sign of eating or smoking in the storage area etc. (This is ideally done by the same person who will get a feel for what is normal and will therefore spot any changes immediately) Temperature and humidity are regularly monitored Other Relevant Toolkit Sections Section 12 - Managing Records in a Mission Records Storage Facility Section 13 Emergency Preparedness for a Mission Records management storage facility Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 8 of 9

9 Glossary Mission records storage facility/records centre: controlled storage space for semi-active records which is managed by an Information Management Officer according to ARMS standards. Records are kept there securely until they can be destroyed or transferred to ARMS. It is in or near the office from which the files came and separated from space housing files still in use. Semi-active records: those records which no longer need to be readily accessible to support business and which therefore may be removed from the office to semi-active storage. Semi-active records are also known as semi-active records, non-current records or intermediate records. Semi-active storage: controlled storage space where semi-active records are securely kept until they can be destroyed or transferred to the ARMS archives for permanent retention. It is in or near the office from which the files came and separated from space housing files still in use. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What is the difference between semi-active storage and the mission s records centre? Semi-active storage is controlled storage space where semi-active records are securely kept until they can be destroyed or transferred to ARMS. It is in or near the office from which the files came and separated from space housing files still in use. The mission s records centre is a central storage facility for semi-active records which is managed by an Information Management Officer. If your mission has a records centre you should use this for semi-active record storage. The Toolkit section on Managing Records in a Mission Records Storage Facility gives guidance and best practice for managing both semi-active storage and records centres. Version 3 January 2010 Section 12 Page 9 of 9

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