Discarding and keeping

Good archival management means you know what you need to keep... and what you can discard (read more in the tool about valuation). This applies for both your paper and your digital archives. The first step is cleaning the archive. This means removing all harmful materials like plastic folders, metal (paper clips, lever arch and box files, staples, ring binders…), elastic bands, sticky tape, glue and so on. For your digital archive it's important to scan for and remove any viruses. When cleaning up, we also remove any unnecessary duplicates, draft versions, empty folders, etc. Cleaning up your archive ensures they're easier to search and care for. A clean archive also takes up less space in the physical storage area or on the server.

What can I safely discard of delete? How do I decide whether a document is valuable enough to retain it? Are there documents that I'm obligated to retain?
Virginia State Parks staff, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A great opportunity to clean up your paper and digital archives is when you complete an application or project. You’re still very familiar with the contents at this stage, and know which documents are important and which aren’t. You can also schedule a 'trash day', where you'll make specific plans to organise bothe the paper and digital classification and provide access to it. Once the archive has been cleaned up, you can determine the value of your documents.


A crucial aspect of good archive or collection management is understanding why your documents or items are valuable. Various factors play a role in valuation to a greater or lesser degree. In this a...

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A digital clean-up or trash day

It is advisable to regularly clean up your organisation’s digital classification. An effective way of doing this is with a digital clean-up or trash day. In this article, you’ll learn: What is a tr...

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Clean up your archive

To manage your archive effectively, you need to clean and tidy it up occasionally. In this article, you’ll learn: Why should you clean your archive? How can you clean your paper archive? How can yo...

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