The DCA is committed to providing open access to its collections as far as possible within the limits of privacy and confidentiality. Although many records and manuscript collections are open for use, there are materials held by the DCA that are subject to access restrictions. For institutional data, some restrictions are mandated by laws such as FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), while others are determined by the DCA in conjunction with the records-creating department or office.
University records fall into one of the three access categories:
Category 1: Personal Information
Closed 75 years from records’ creation
Then, subject to review by the DCA and the records-creating department or office, the records are open without restriction. Typically, records containing personal information about an individual or individuals, such as student academic records, employment records, and alumni office records, fall under this category.
Category 2: Universal Distribution
Open without restriction
Typically, these records include announcements, publications, calendars, brochures, and widely distributed reports.
Category 3: General University Records
Closed 20 years from records’ creation
Then, subject to review by the DCA and the records-creating department or office, the records are open without restriction. Typically, most university records supporting administrative and business activities fall under this category.
The DCA and the records-creating department or office may decide to extend the access restrictions or impose restrictions that differ from the standard access categories.
Restrictions on access to manuscript collections are informed by the need to balance access and confidentiality in records. Often this is stipulated in the terms of the gift agreement governing the donation of the material. In negotiating these agreements, the DCA seeks to secure the greatest access possible, and will stipulate a set period for any restrictions to expire so that materials may be available for use.