Skip To Content

Athabasca University

< back to guidelines

Guidelines Transitory Records

Guidelines – Transitory Records

Information and records that only have short–term, immediate or no value, and that you won't need in the future are called transitory records.

If the information in the record will have some future administrative, financial, legal, research or historical value to your job, office or Athabasca University (AU), then you should file the record.

The decision on what is and is not a transitory record comes down to an individual judgement by each employee. If you have any doubt about whether recorded information will have any future reference value, file the record. If in the future the record has proven to have no value, it can be removed and disposed of then.

Following are some guidelines for staff to use when making decisions on what is and is not a transitory record.

  1. Solicited and unsolicited information you receive from organizations and individuals advertising their products.

    Some of this material may be relevant to your operation and you may want to file it for future reference. However, some may be considered junk mail and you can routinely discard it.
  2. Publications obtained from sources outside your organization.

    These may include books, magazines, brochures, journals, newsletters, pamphlets, software documentation, and newspapers. If they have no future value, they can be discarded according to your office guidelines, once you are finished with them, or routinely discarded.
  3. Duplicates of exact reproductions of a master document.

    They may include photocopies or extra copies of a report, staff meeting minutes, meeting agendas, discussion papers, or notices for events. After filing the master document, you can discard duplicates that are no longer required. If a duplicate copy has been altered by someone adding handwritten comments, notes or initials, it is considered to be a new record. If the added information will have future value, file the document.

  4. Draft documents and working materials.

    These may include materials used in the preparation of documents and earlier versions of the final document. Usually, drafts and working materials do not have future value and can be discarded as transitory records once the final version is produced. If some draft documents and working materials relate to development or preparation of policy, standards, guidelines, budgets, or legal documents, and your office is responsible for their creation, you may wish to file the records as they may have future value.

  5. Temporary Information

    Temporary information such as telephone messages, routing slips, self–adhesive notes, memos, notes, messages, and envelopes are usually considered to have only immediate or short–term value and may be discarded as transitory records. Some temporary information may have future value and should be filed. Some examples would be an envelope with a date stamp that record the date the item was received, a telephone message slip providing evidence of an individual calling at a certain time and date, and a self-adhesive note giving you authorization to carry out an activity or providing you instruction.

Guidelines for Disposal of the two most common formats of transitory records include:

  • Paper records containing confidential, sensitive, or personal information should be shredded.
  • Electronic records containing confidential, sensitive or personal information should be deleted.
  • Records, in any other physical format (video, cassette, and microform), containing confidential, sensitive or personal information should be disposed in a manner that the information cannot be retrieved.
  • Records, of any physical format, not containing any confidential, sensitive or personal information could be recycled or placed in regular garbage bins.

Office of the University Secretariat, July 2006

Updated May 30 2014 by Office of the University Secretariat

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.