4.3. Records storage
Once information has been processed, distributed and used, it must then be stored for future use. In a manual records system that information is then stored in some filing units such as filing cabinets while in an automated system it is then stored on magnetic tape or disk. The information is however not stored for the sake of storage. It is stored on the premise that it is still needed and it is in this respect that serious problems can arise.
A basic principle of records management is that information should be distinguished and separated as it moves through three distinct phases of its life cycle. At its creation and through its active usage, the records are said to be current. As their rate of usage declines from the frequent to the infrequent, they move on to the semi-current phase and from there on to the non-current stage. In the latter stage a decision has to be made as to whether or not the records should be disposed of. A mistake is often made by equating non-current records to archives because the two are definitely not equivalent. The various stages of the life-cycle of records should also be distinguished by differences in where the records are to be found. During the current stage the records are kept in the office or registry where they can be accessed with ease as required. As the records become semi-current they should then be retired from the office and registry into some storage area. In general the first point they are moved to is the storeroom or strongroom within the premises of the creating agency and from there they are then transferred to a Records Centre. The retirement of information from active to semi-active use is however full of its own problems and it is quite often this point that is critical in the life-cycle of a record.
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