Understanding the Collection Development Policies

The University Archives' collection development policies specify what types of records should be transferred to the University Archives after the period of their active administrative use ends. The policies are organized according to the activities performed at Yale, rather than by the offices that perform those activities.

Each policy defines specific topics of interest and a list of the types of records that the University Archives wishes to document that activity. It is important to note that these listings of record types are not exhaustive. Any records may be considered archival if they document the topics of interest listed in the collection development policy. For questions about the topics of interest or record types, please contact the University Archives at archives@yale.edu

Record Formats

The collection development policies apply to records of all formats, including paper records, computer files (e-mail, word-processed documents, spreadsheets, databases, and materials in imaging systems), photographs, audiovisual materials, and publications (e.g., newsletters, calendars of events, books, newspapers, web sites, etc.). While the nature of different formats may require different methods of transfer and long-term care, the value of a given record is based on the information and evidence it provides, not on its format. When arranging a record transfer, University Archives staff will indicate how records of varying formats should be transferred.

Official Record Copy

Each policy has a section explaining who has primary responsibility for the records documenting that function. Very often, copies of the same records will be located in numerous offices on campus, although the official record copy only exists in one office. Each collection development policy identifies which office holds the official record copies. The office or individual responsible for maintaining these records is called the office of record (i.e., the holder of the official records copies). All other copies used by other university offices are not of permanent archival value and should not be transferred to the University Archives. If they are no longer of use to that office, they can be destroyed, provided there is no legal or administrative reason for their retention.  If an office has any questions about the disposition of any non-permanent records, visit the Office of General Counsel and review the University's record retention schedule: http://ogc.yale.edu/yale-records-retention-schedule