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This whole thread points to the basic RIM concept of establishing
destruction procedures and training employees/users in the importance of
following the procedures and of using common sense.  In the late 1970's, the
district courts in New Mexico were involved in a major microfilming project
to film civil and criminal case files and destroy most of the paper due to a
severe shortage of file housing space in the courthouses throughout the
state.  As head of the Microfilm Division at the State Records Center and
Archives, I developed the rules and regulations the courts had to meet to
destroy records as part of the microfilm program.  The one thing we stressed
was the "appropriate" destruction of the records.  "Appropriate" could range
from donating the paper records to a local historical society (though we
preferred they send them to the State Archives where they could be appraised
for historical value if they wanted to donate them) to full destruction
through shredding or pulping.

One county decided that hauling the filmed records to the local landfill was
"appropriate" enough.  Citizens found the files at the landfill (why do
people scavange through garbage?) and turned them over to the local
newspaper.  The paper had a field day of supposition - from "the court clerk
was trying to destroy evidence of some County Official's relative's arrest
and conviction" to "historical records were treated as trash."  The county
claimed it could not afford shredding or pulping so many records, and asked
us for cheaper solutions.  We suggested that, if they insisted on using the
landfill, they witness the burial of the paper, and that the paper be placed
in a freshly dug hole and wet down with water on each layer before being
covered with dirt.  I think the theory was the water and dirt on each "thin"
layer of paper would hasten the decomposition.  Needless to say, even with
this caveat, this solution was not suggested to many counties.

Ginny Jones
(Virginia A. Jones, CRM, MIT/LIT)
Records Manager
Newport News Dept. of Public Utilities
Newport News, VA
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