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Filing and Maintaining Records - FGS Wiki

Filing and Maintaining Records


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[NOTE: this page has not yet been formatted.  If you are interested in assisting in the care and maintenance of the FGS Wiki Content, please contact Thomas MacEntee at publicity@fgs.org.]
 
 
 
[[Category:Strategies for Secretaries]]
 
[[Category:Strategies for Secretaries]]
 +
 +
 +
== INTRODUCTION ==
 +
 +
Filing is more important than merely putting
 +
away. The purpose of files is to help the
 +
volunteers of the organization do their work in an
 +
efficient and informed manner. This purpose
 +
should dictate not only the initial planning of a
 +
filing system but its frequent use as well. Busy
 +
volunteers realize that well-kept files and file
 +
maintenance are essential to controlling the ever
 +
increasing paper blizzard.
 +
 +
It is the secretary's responsibility to keep the files.
 +
However, many presidents prefer to have
 +
possession of the files for quicker access. In this
 +
case, or if more than one person in the society has
 +
access to the files, the secretary may not be
 +
responsible for maintaining the whole records
 +
program. Instead, the files should be organized so
 +
that everyone can find and refile whatever is
 +
required. A table of contents for the files most
 +
frequently used provides easy access and is an
 +
excellent aid for new officers or volunteers.
 +
 +
 +
== ARRANGEMENT OF FILES ==
 +
 +
No single arrangement of filed material is suitable
 +
for all society situations. The goal is to have as
 +
few places to look as possible, preferably only
 +
one. The best arrangement might be a blend of
 +
systems, depending on the type of material to be
 +
filed and its use. The important element is that
 +
each person using the system be able to locate the
 +
needed information quickly and easily.
 +
The four basic file systems or arrangements are
 +
alphabetical, by subject, by number, or by location
 +
(geography).
 +
 +
'''ALPHABETICAL'''
 +
The alphabetical arrangement uses a name or a
 +
topic as the important item. This is the most
 +
widely used. It is basic to all filing because when
 +
other systems are used, the smaller units are
 +
indexed alphabetically. Alphabetic arrangements
 +
provide direct reference, a quick check on folders
 +
that are out of order, and the grouping of related
 +
names and topics.
 +
 +
'''SUBJECT'''
 +
When the topic of a paper or a letter is more
 +
important than the name or location of the
 +
correspondent, arrangement should be by subject.
 +
For example, appropriate papers would be filed
 +
under titles such as contracts, meetings, or reports.
 +
Subject filing is useful when all the records about
 +
a particular activity will be needed at once, as in
 +
planning an annual event or a seminar. More thanFiling and Maintaining Records
 +
Page 2 FGS Society Strategies, Set V Number 3
 +
one subject file may be necessary for different
 +
areas of activity. A subject file may be needed in
 +
addition to an alphabetic correspondence file.
 +
 +
'''NUMERIC'''
 +
A numeric file is better adapted to automatic data
 +
processing than other systems. Since numbers are
 +
not as readily confused as similarly spelled names
 +
may be, misfiling is reduced. Another advantage
 +
of a numeric file is the possibility of unlimited
 +
expansion. There are, however, some
 +
disadvantages in this system. Errors occur when
 +
numbers are inadvertently transposed and such
 +
mistakes cannot be discovered as easily as errors
 +
in an alphabetic filing.
 +
 +
'''GEOGRAPHIC'''
 +
For a few societies, a file arranged geographically
 +
is the most useful type. Guides are set up for
 +
locations, such as states, counties, or cities, with
 +
correspondents' folders arranged alphabetically
 +
behind the appropriate guides.
 +
 +
These centralized files have the advantage of
 +
uniform filing practices but may sometimes result
 +
in poor control of essential and confidential
 +
records.
 +
 +
CONSIDERATIONS
 +
It is important to evaluate the type of records to be
 +
filed for such things as frequency of use and
 +
confidentiality.
 +
 +
Is privacy necessary? If so, such material should
 +
be put in a secure place when in use and returned
 +
to a locked file drawer afterwards. The assignment
 +
of file cabinet key(s) must be considered and
 +
noted carefully.
 +
 +
Another consideration is the need for short or long
 +
term storage. Items requiring frequent reference
 +
may be kept close at hand. Materials consulted
 +
less often can be transferred to off-site storage or
 +
boxed for stacking. A complete list or table of
 +
contents must be maintained of records held in
 +
long term storage.
 +
 +
 +
== SYSTEM AND CONTENT ==
 +
 +
For files that will be fairly active, there should be
 +
enough subdivisions to allow for rapid access to
 +
any material. File activity is measured in terms of
 +
the number of references each month.
 +
 +
Information should be filed in the way it will most
 +
often be sought. If the material will be called for
 +
by subject, arrange files alphabetically according
 +
to subject rather than name.
 +
 +
A systematic approach to filing guarantees that
 +
what goes into the files can be found rapidly when
 +
it is needed. Almost as important as arrangement
 +
is contents: what must be filed and what can be
 +
discarded?
 +
 +
Unnecessary carbon copies should be discarded.
 +
Paper clips, pins, and other fasteners should be
 +
removed. Copying the reply onto the back of the
 +
original letter eliminates fasteners as well as
 +
saving paper and space. Related papers should be
 +
stapled together diagonally across the upper left
 +
corner to reduce the possibility of tearing. Use
 +
only one staple and avoid “staples over staples.”
 +
Items should be arranged in folders with the top of
 +
each page at the left and the most recent piece in
 +
front or on top. Large papers are folded to
 +
standard size. Small papers may be copied or
 +
taped onto standard size sheets. Torn papers
 +
should be repaired.
 +
 +
 +
== FILE FOLDERS ==
 +
 +
A folder will hold at least twenty to twenty-five
 +
sheets of paper without crowding. When material
 +
within a folder becomes more than one inch thick,
 +
a new folder should be set up and the filled folder
 +
labeled as complete, such as “2000-2001.” The
 +
beginning date for items in the new folder is
 +
written on the front of the folder and the new
 +
folder is then placed in the file in front of the
 +
completed folder.
 +
 +
Folders with expandable pockets are useful for
 +
bulky materials such as catalogs. These folders
 +
should be the same size as the others in the
 +
drawer.
 +
 +
Individual folders (by name of correspondent)
 +
should be set up when there are five or more
 +
pieces of correspondence from any one individual.
 +
The folders are then filed behind the appropriate
 +
guides.
 +
 +
 +
== FILE CABINETS ==
 +
 +
The top drawers of a cabinet
 +
are for current filing and the
 +
bottom drawers for the most
 +
recently transferred folders. An index of each file
 +
drawer is very helpful and should be placed at the
 +
front of the appropriate drawer. Three to four
 +
inches of working space should be left in a file
 +
drawer to avoid jamming the files and wasting
 +
time in obtaining material.
 +
 +
 +
== OUTDATED FILES ==
 +
 +
The retiring president and other officers and
 +
committee chairs should transfer files in good
 +
working order. A file maintenance checklist for
 +
the new file custodian or officer is very helpful.
 +
For example, working papers of the immediate
 +
past president and perhaps those of the previous
 +
administration are retained as reference for the incoming president. When the current president
 +
leaves office, the oldest set of administrative
 +
working papers should be discarded. This removes
 +
encumbrances of previous leadership style or
 +
philosophy and permits the infusion of new
 +
vitality into the organization. It also provides
 +
much needed space to accept the more recent files.
 +
Inactive files should be removed to dead storage
 +
as soon as they cease to be used. No file should be
 +
destroyed without making a record of it, or
 +
without proper authority.
 +
 +
Today, more and more organizations are binding
 +
the most important older files, using a consistent
 +
format and arrangement. For example, board
 +
meeting minutes, regular meeting minutes, and
 +
treasurer's reports are included in monthly
 +
sequence. The minutes of annual and board
 +
meetings, and the treasurer's reports are including
 +
in the proper chronological order. Bound volumes
 +
may be in one, two, or more years, whichever
 +
offers the greatest convenience for the
 +
organization. Consider binding by presidential
 +
terms.
 +
 +
The expense of binding is minimal when a clear
 +
cover of archival quality is used along with velobinding. The transparent cover allows the title
 +
page to also serve as the cover page and identifies
 +
the contents, inclusive dates, the society name,
 +
and logo. Bound volumes may be placed in dead
 +
storage, either on shelves or in cartons. The
 +
microfilming of inactive files is an alternative
 +
when there are existing storage limitations. Bound
 +
material and microfilm are both acceptable in a
 +
court of law.
 +
 +
Many societies prepare history books of each
 +
presidential term. These are maintained in an
 +
archival manner and serve as an attractive and
 +
informative complement to the bound volumes of
 +
minutes and treasurer's reports.
 +
 +
A regular discard schedule should be followed.
 +
Committee reports and nonessential records are
 +
saved no more than three years. All financial and
 +
tax records, minutes, contracts, corporate papers
 +
and ready reference files are saved indefinitely.
 +
Other types of files will need special consideration
 +
on an annual basis before discarding or
 +
transferring to dead storage.
 +
 +
 +
== TIME SAVER SUGGESTIONS ==
 +
 +
If the correspondence file consists of twenty-seven
 +
folders, one per letter of the alphabet, and several
 +
have only two sheets of paper in them (such as the
 +
Q, X and Z files), why not double -- or even triple
 +
-- up? Put the Q’s with the Ps and have an X-Y-Z
 +
file. It is better to have twenty files with ten sheets
 +
in each than a hundred holding two pages each.
 +
Consider combining ingoing and outgoing
 +
correspondence files. Take this a step further by
 +
using the back of an inquiry to copy the reply (by
 +
printer or copy machine). This reduces by half the
 +
number of papers and the filing and retrieval time.
 +
Arrange papers within a folder chronologically
 +
rather than alphabetically. For example, don’t file
 +
Mr. Agassi’s letter between the inquiries from
 +
Mrs. Adams and Ms. Alderson. Instead, make
 +
Agassi the top paper in the folder. This puts the
 +
most recent correspondence – and the most likely
 +
to be needed again soon – where it is easiest to be
 +
retrieved.
 +
 +
 +
== SUMMARY ==
 +
 +
Keep files lean and clean. Use a simple file
 +
procedure or a blend of systems and conduct a
 +
thorough file maintenance program. A good file
 +
system can be an immeasurable time saver.
 +
Organizations which keep their records carefully,
 +
meticulously and systematically will considerably
 +
improve their business efficiency. “File it and find
 +
it” should be your motto.

Latest revision as of 15:31, 13 August 2013

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