A Vital Record is recorded information, regardless of format (i.e., paper, photo, database, magnetic tape), that must be protected in the event of an emergency or disaster because of severe consequences to the office and the University as a whole if the record is lost or destroyed.
Vital records are records that will be needed in anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours after a disaster to get your office up and running again. They are records that, if lost or destroyed, would be both costly and time consuming to recreate - if they can be recreated at all. They can be active (currently used by the office) or inactive (in storage).
Vital Records are:
- Vital to the function and mission of the University.
- Essential for the continuous operation or reconstruction of any University owned buildings.
- Necessary to establish or protect the legal or financial position of the University.
- Necessary to protect and ensure the rights and interests of the employees and clients of the University.
Tips for identifying records in your office which may be vital are outlined in How do you Identify a Vital Record. Only a small percentage of your records will be vital.
Most records will fall into one of the following three categories:
- Essential Records - These are records that will be needed within 72 hours after an emergency and, although it may be costly and difficult, CAN be reconstructed or replaced from other sources.
- Useful Records - These are records which can be easily replaced. The time and cost of reproducing or accessing these records would be minimal because of the ready availability of these records at other locations.
- Non-Essential Records - These are records that are of little or no value to the office and probably should never have been retained. Examples would be stores catalogs, brochures, extra forms, etc.