Appraisal Criteria

Appraisal is the process of determining which records are to be retained as archives and which will be destroyed.  To appraise records effectively, it is necessary to understand the social, business and administrative context in which the records were created.  This may include why the organization was created, its relationship with other organizations, and its core business and administrative functions.

Temporary records may be governed by legislative requirements dictating minimum periods for retention before destruction.

Archives are records which are kept permanently because of their continuing value.

Temporary records can be destroyed once they no longer have any value, in accordance with an approved disposal authority.

In the appraisal process the following values should be taken into account:

Administrative value – records which document the activities and functions of the organization, and which are important to the continuity of an organization’s day-to-day business.  Minutes of meetings, policy files and some subject files are examples of records having administrative value.  Such records should have ceased to contribute to an organization’s business activities before their disposal.

Legal value – records which have legal value to individuals, organizations or the Government, or which form proof of agreement, contract or lease.  Records with legal value include birth, death and marriage records, lease documents, treaty documents, contracts and wills.

Financial value – financial records which show how money was obtained, allocated, controlled and spent.

Historical value- the research value of an organization’s records lies in the fact that a picture of the organization and its activities over time can be drawn from the records which have been kept.  Such records may have one or more of the values given above and will include records that document the organization’s establishment and functions.  Determining the historical value of records is often a more subjective process than assessing administrative or legal value.  The final assessment will be made by the State Records Office.

Note: In determining the above values, an overriding consideration is the need for organizations to demonstrate accountability for their policies and actions.  The extent to which records reflect these factors will have a significant influence on the way in which they are sentenced.

Many other records may be of archival value.  The staff of the SRO are available to assist organizations in identifying such records.

See also: Preparing a Retention and Disposal Schedule and Structure and Content of a Retention and Disposal Schedule