GRDS records, will you be my significant or other?

A lot of people have heard of the phrase ‘significant other’ but what about the terms ‘significant’ or ‘other’? Determining how long records need to be kept cannot always be achieved by using the record type alone. This is where the terms ‘significant’ and ‘other’ are important. You’ll see classes with these terms quite a bit throughout the GRDS and progressively in your core schedules.

Here at QSA we have had a long relationship with the terms ‘major’ and ‘minor’ to help sort records into temporary and permanent classes, based on the significance of the information in the records. To make this process a little clearer, we are now using the terms ‘significant’ and ‘other’.

In the GRDS, ‘significant’ generally covers records that warrant permanent retention because they are – you guessed it – significant. These record classes include criteria to help you determine if your records are significant. In the GRDS Lite, the significant characteristics are listed in the schedule introduction. For example, ‘Appeals – significant’ has a counterpart in ‘Appeals – other’ so you can determine whether the records are temporary or permanent based on the criteria of each of the record classes. ‘Other’ covers records that are temporary in nature and do not hold the same level of significance for the community.

There are a few things to think about to determine whether your records fall into the ‘significant’ level of a record class. For example, do these records:

  • demonstrate that a precedent has been set?
  • arouse wide-scale public interest or controversy?
  • capture a unique event or point in time for your agency, the State or the whole community?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, it’s likely you have some significant records on your hands. You can also:

  • think about what could happen if the records were lost or destroyed – would this mean that information important to the people of Queensland would be lost?
  • take a look at QSA’s Appraisal Statement for guidance on what records should be kept permanently
  • seek advice from QSA prior to the sentencing and disposal of potentially significant records.

The value of records can change over time. Although it is unlikely that records covered by permanent classes will lessen in significance, be aware that some records initially classed as temporary could need to be resentenced before disposal where the records have become significant.

Like all good partnerships, communication is the key, so if you have any thoughts, queries or comments, we’re keen to hear them. Are there particular classes in the GRDS where you are unsure about whether your records could be significant or not? Let us know so we can improve our scope descriptions.

Remember, you can contact us via email, telephone (3037 6630), blog or Twitter.

Allison Drechshage

Appraisal Archivist

Featured image: 1959 Centenary celebrations – Migrant ship “Orion”, migrant couple – Brisbane, August 1959

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