Minnesota  State Archives

Electronic Records Management Guidelines



You routinely create, use, and manage information electronically in your daily work as you use computers to send e-mail, create spreadsheets, publish web pages, manage databases, and create digitized materials. Because you work for a government agency, Minnesota and federal laws mandate that you treat that information as official government records.

You probably already have a strategy to manage your paper records; because of the pervasiveness of digital files, you must also have a plan to manage electronic records.

Common Questions

As you begin the process of developing an electronic records management strategy, you will find yourself asking many questions, including:

  • Which Minnesota laws apply to electronic records?
  • How can we use electronic records to help ensure public accountability while protecting non-public records?
  • Who is responsible for developing our electronic records management strategy?
  • How do we dispose of electronic records?
  • Should we manage our electronic records differently from our paper records?
  • How do we know what information is an electronic record?
  • Is an electronic copy of a record an acceptable substitute for the original?
  • Does an electronic record have the same legal significance as a paper record?


Electronic Records Management Guidelines

Because records management laws do not always translate easily into specific technological terms, the State Archives of the Minnesota Historical Society has developed a series of guidelines on basic electronic records management topics.

Purpose of the Guidelines

These guidelines should serve as a starting point as you review your electronic records management practices and develop an appropriate strategy. Each chapter provides an overview of key concepts within the applicable legal framework, questions to spark discussion, and an annotated list of resources as a guide for more detailed research. We recommend that you begin by reading the Electronic Records Management Strategy guidelines for a general introduction to key concepts.


Guidelines in the Series

Guidelines in the series include:

  • Legal Framework. A description of the laws that apply to electronic records in Minnesota.
  • Metadata. Become familiar with metadata, its functions, and its importance in managing electronic records, as well as specific metadata standards.
  • File Naming. Learn about the importance of including a file naming policy in your electronic records management strategy.
  • File Formats. Review descriptions of common file formats and a summary of the issues regarding converting or migrating files.
  • Digital Media. Review digital media storage options for your electronic records.
  • Digital Imaging. Learn about digital imaging, its uses, and legal considerations.  Review recommendations for under taking digital imaging projects.
  • E-mail Management. Consider the issues involved in extending your electronic records management strategy to your e-mail messages.
  • Web Content Management. Learn how to develop a policy for managing your web content that meshes with your electronic records management strategy.
  • Glossary. Look up key terms in the guidelines.


Annotated lists of resources are available with each of the guidelines.

Legal Framework  go to Electronic Records Management Strategy

Go to Table of Contents


Electronic Records Management Guidelines, March 2012 Version 5.