Western Libraries - Archives and Research Collections Centre: Glossary

The University of Western Ontario


Glossary of Terms

Retention Periods/Stages


The length of time records are retained in the office area of a unit or on-line in an electronic environment.


The length of time records are retained in central university storage, or near-line or off-line in an electronic environment, from which they can be retrieved as needed by the originating unit

Final Disposition

The fate of records after the completion of active and semi-active stages, either archival preservation (in whole or in part) or destruction.

Active Retention Options


Until completion of a specific process or event, normally defined in the notes.


Until replaced by a new version, as determined by the unit holding the records.


Until no longer needed, based on the operational needs of the unit as determined by the unit holding the records.

Final Disposition Options


Disposal of records by the most economical and environmentally responsible means available

Confidential Destruction

Destruction of records in a manner that ensures that the information cannot be retrieved (e.g., shredding, electronic erasure, etc.).

Full Archival Retention

Preservation of all records, subject to removal of duplicates and non-record material.

Selective Archival Retention

Preservation of some records, after weeding or sampling based on appropriate criteria, followed by confidential destruction of the remainder.

Unit Descriptions


Unit(s) with primary responsibility for the function to which the records relate and for the maintenance of the associated records on behalf of the University.


Unit(s) performing the same functions as the responsible unit(s) on the basis of a formal delegation of authority.


Units that may hold copies of some or all records but are not responsible for the function to which they relate.

Time Measures*

Academic Year

July 1 – June 30

Calendar Year

January 1 – December 31

Fiscal Year

May 1 – April 30

* = Normally refer to the balance of the defined time to which specific records relate, followed by some additional period of time (e.g., fiscal year + 6 years)