Digital Archiving Church Records

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djstoddard
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Digital Archiving Church Records

Postby djstoddard » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:34 am

Hello,
I am a new STS and my Stake Presidency has requested I look into Digitally Archiving some membership records to eliminate/relocate/backup the many cabinets of paperwork. (not sure on eliminating records yet)
Basically, they want to scan records into a computer in case they get lost, misplaced, etc.
I already have a scanner with a document feeder that saves to pdf which will suffice for this purpose.

My day job is as a desktop support tech (of over 10 years) so this is something I have the skill set for, or I know people within the stake who do at the enterprise level.

The options we thought of were a cloud based service to backup or scan to, which would probably have a nominal monthly/yearly fee.

I felt we should do a local storage using RAID with an offsite backup (maybe at another building in the stake), or a external drive that is rotated in every week and backed up to.

I searched and could not find any info on this. Is this against policy? Is there already something in place that does this? Would the data need to be encrypted?

Thanks!

Daniel Stoddard

russellhltn
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Re: Digital Archiving Church Records

Postby russellhltn » Sun Aug 11, 2013 11:11 am

Many cabinets of paperwork? I'd look at the record retention schedule. That seems excessive.

My day job is high-speed document scanning. The desire to save space never covers the cost of scanning. Granted, in this case the labor is free, but my point is that it's easy to under estimate the scanning costs. For example, not only will you have to scan the pages, but you'll have to do some kind of indexing such that you can find the information again. That's likely to slow you down. You'll be doing good to get about 50% of your scanners rated speed with all the stop/starts in dealing with short documents.

Bottom line, I'd have a hard look at what they need to have.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

eblood66
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Re: Digital Archiving Church Records

Postby eblood66 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:29 pm

djstoddard wrote:Hello,
I am a new STS and my Stake Presidency has requested I look into Digitally Archiving some membership records to eliminate/relocate/backup the many cabinets of paperwork. (not sure on eliminating records yet)
Basically, they want to scan records into a computer in case they get lost, misplaced, etc.

As russellhltn suggests, I'd review the retention schedule. I would guess that most of those records should be destroyed. Financial records (in the US and Canada) should only be kept for 3 years plus the current year. Ordination records should only be kept for 1 year. Only records of historical value should be kept longer and in that case the church history library should be consulted about how to archive them.

Other records (like meeting minutes, plans and such) should only be kept as long as they are actually needed, not just because they might be interesting later. They contain information about members who have moved from the ward or stake and we are not supposed to retain information about members who are no longer in the ward or stake.

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aebrown
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Re: Digital Archiving Church Records

Postby aebrown » Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:20 pm

eblood66 wrote:Other records (like meeting minutes, plans and such) should only be kept as long as they are actually needed, not just because they might be interesting later. They contain information about members who have moved from the ward or stake and we are not supposed to retain information about members who are no longer in the ward or stake.

I don't know of any policy that says we have to destroy any document that mentions anyone who has moved out. If that were true, we'd have to immediately destroy any minutes that mention someone as soon as that person moves out of the ward or stake. That sounds completely impractical, as well as contrary to some of the purpose of retaining records. For example, it has been helpful on more than one occasion that we retained a MP ordination record for a young man whose record was moved out of the stake before his ordination was recorded.

eblood66
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Re: Digital Archiving Church Records

Postby eblood66 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:38 pm

aebrown wrote:
eblood66 wrote:Other records (like meeting minutes, plans and such) should only be kept as long as they are actually needed, not just because they might be interesting later. They contain information about members who have moved from the ward or stake and we are not supposed to retain information about members who are no longer in the ward or stake.

I don't know of any policy that says we have to destroy any document that mentions anyone who has moved out. If that were true, we'd have to immediately destroy any minutes that mention someone as soon as that person moves out of the ward or stake. That sounds completely impractical, as well as contrary to some of the purpose of retaining records. For example, it has been helpful on more than one occasion that we retained a MP ordination record for a young man whose record was moved out of the stake before his ordination was recorded.

No, you're right. My wording was a bit strong. The retention policy does specifically say that printed membership records should be destroyed when members move out. It also says that other records should only be retained as long as needed for administrative, legal or historical purposes and it warns about privacy laws that regulate records that mention individuals information.

My real point was that we shouldn't keep records for years just because we're afraid they might someday be useful and one reason for that is that they may contain personal information that we no longer have any valid reason for retaining.

The retention policy does specifically say that ordination records should be kept for one year so that covers that concern. And, no, I agree we should not discard minutes and similar records that mention someone who has moved right when they move. But when those minutes no longer contain information that is needed to carry out the business of the stake or ward, we should destroy them to avoid retaining information we shouldn't. A specific need for the records is enough to keep them but a vague idea that maybe they'll be needed isn't.

At least, that how I interpret the policy. But, of course, it is the bishop's or stake president's responsibility to interpret the actual policy (which I linked to in the previous post) and I would follow my bishop or stake president in their decision after showing them the policy and explaining my reasoning.

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aebrown
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Re: Digital Archiving Church Records

Postby aebrown » Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:15 pm

eblood66 wrote:No, you're right. My wording was a bit strong. The retention policy does specifically say that printed membership records should be destroyed when members move out. It also says that other records should only be retained as long as needed for administrative, legal or historical purposes and it warns about privacy laws that regulate records that mention individuals information.

Thanks for the clarification. I agree with all your other points, as well -- sound advice!

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sbradshaw
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Re: Digital Archiving Church Records

Postby sbradshaw » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:28 pm

I generally don't print anything other than finance documents and forms that need to be signed (such as the priesthood ordination form). Vital membership info is always available through MLS, backed up to headquarters, and accessible through LDS.org and LDS Tools. If you do go this route, though, don't just get in the habit of always pressing cancel when it asks you to print. Always do a print preview to make sure you don't overlook something important.

If you do want to keep membership printouts outside of MLS, you can use CutePDF to print to PDF instead of to the printer. Sensitive information should not be stored on the cloud, but could be kept on a USB drive.

I'm not sure if there are any financial documents that can be kept digitally without a paper copy but I'm curious if anyone knows if there are policies on that...

ggllbb
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Re: Digital Archiving Church Records

Postby ggllbb » Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:33 pm

Reminder: Sensitive information not only must not be stored on the cloud, but it also must not be stored on the clerk computer other than in MLS. If done at all, it needs to be put on a USB flash drive or other removable media and stored in a locked file cabinet.


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