Microfilm Destruction Tips

Are you looking to streamline your microfilm destruction methods? Do you already have a system in place? In any case, you might find these pointers below helpful to incorporate into your organization’s practices.

Step 1: Make sure you have procedures in place. Will the destruction be done in-house, or will you hire an outside vendor? Your procedures can include details about who will pick up the microfilm, where it will be destroyed and how, including any pre-destruction preparations that need to be made, and the type of equipment that must be used. If you decide to hire a vendor, make sure they comply with state agency and local government destruction rules:

  1. Bulletin A: Local Government Microfilming Standards and Procedures
  2. Bulletin 2: State Agency Microfilming Standards and Procedures

Step 2: After you verify that the records are ready for destruction (e.g., no in-progress audits, Public Information Act requests, legal holds, etc.), and once your disposition log has the appropriate information (e.g., record series, the date range of the records, and the quantity of records that are eligible for destruction, etc.), make sure the destruction method you choose guarantees the records are made unrecognizable and unable to be reassembled, especially for any personally identifiable information or confidential information. It would also be beneficial to include your IT department in the destruction process and in your policy-development process to make sure records are not recoverable. Consider the following destruction methods:

  1. With shredding or burning, exact sizes for destroying microforms are not listed in Bulletin A or Bulletin 2, but here are recommendations from a few sources:
    • The National Institute of Standards and Technology (U.S. Department of Commerce) recommends burning microforms and reducing the residue to white ash.
    • The IRS recommends shredding microfilm into 1/35-inch by 3/8-inch strips.
    • The Utah Division of Archives and Record Service recommends shredding microfilm into 3/16 of an inch or smaller, and make sure you are not violating any environmental protection laws if you decide to burn microfilm.
    • TSLAC recommends shredding microfilm at 5/8-inch cross-cut, and shred microfiche twice (first time at 5/8-inch cross-cut, second time at 3/8-inch cross-cut; see our Disposition 101 webinar).
  2. Let Imaging Services at the State Records Center handle your microfilm. For a consultation or information about billing, reach out to Zachary Bruton, Imaging Services Supervisor, at zbruton @ tsl.texas.gov or 512-475-5162. Also, see the Imaging – Digital Fee Schedule: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/imaging-micro#Fees

Step 3: Whether you decide to handle destruction in-house or to hire a vendor, make sure a disposition log is used throughout the destruction process (also see our blog article FAQ: Why Use a Disposition Log?). Your disposition log should include the date of the destruction, and if you hired a vendor, make sure you receive a certificate of destruction. These types of destruction records help to show:

  1. Appropriate destruction methods are used to prevent the exposure of sensitive information.
  2. Your records custodians, records liaisons, and records management officers can easily identify which records have been destroyed if a particular record is ever requested.
  3. Only eligible records that have met their full retention period are authorized to be destroyed, which will protect your agency or local government from lawsuits.

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to your TSLAC analyst with any questions. Also, share what has worked best for your agency or local government in the comments below.

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