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Wreck of the "Mystery Items"


Today's newsletter includes a brief history lesson: In early November, 1975, a cargo ship called the SS Edmund Fitzgerald was caught in a gale-force storm en route to Detroit, Michigan. Sadly, the ship was overwhelmed by the massive waves and sank to the bottom of Lake Superior. The national tragedy was later memorialized in song by singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.

While there could be no successful rescue effort for the Edmund Fitzgerald, we at Records Management know it is never too late to save your office's filing system. So, to roll out our new our new Best Practices for Folder Structures resource, we've written this newsletter announcement to the tune of Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".

Click here to listen to the original while you read our lyrics. ♫

space needle surrounded by storm cloudsThe legend lives on from the Director on down
Of the files mess they called "Mystery Items"
The Shared Drive, it's said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn rainy
With a load of reports twenty six thousand files more
Than the I: Drive held when it was empty
Was clear there's the need for the mess to be cleaned
When the audits of November went squirrely

The idea was the pride of the new staff member's side
Coming back from a staff meeting on video
As the new plan appeared, old confusion was cleared
They'd sort records by function all together
Wouldn't complicate, make it easy to update
They'd group records by cut-off and retention
And later that week when records requests came
Could it be motivation they'd been needin'?

Fixed-in-time cut-offs get filed by year
They get deleted when they reach their retention
Event triggered records are still waiting for
The graduation, close of study, or application
The new scheme looked great, other emails had to wait
When the skies of November turned gloomy
When afternoon came it was freezin' rain
In the time of the file plan making

When Tuesday came, office assistant came on Slack sayin'
"Folks, it's too much to fix it"
At the end of the week, new person starting deleting
Said "Old files, it's been good to know ya!"
Said work was immense, but startin' to make sense
It'd be streamlined, the benefits would be several
All the fears soothed, and the files were moved
Came the wreck of the "Mystery Items"


So, whether your office's filing system has been hit by a tsunami or is just suffering a couple troubling leaks, take a quick look at our new Best Practices for Folder Structures resource. It goes over the requirements for a strong file structure with built-in retention. Using this guide can help you design a file plan that makes it easier for you and your users to find what you are looking for while following the legally-approved retention period for your records. We hope you smile, sing along, and get motivated to clean up your own "Mystery Items" folder.


Click here to watch the video on this new University-wide initiative.


Barbara Benson

Cara Ball

Emily Lemieux

Michael Mooney

Lynn O'Shea