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<There are also "vital records" that include birth and death records and those are generally permanent government records. While those records are traditionally also called "vital records", "vital" has a completely different meaning. ... Our sense of the term "vital" is generally "of critical importance".>

During the "public" comment period following the development of the standard (ANSI/ARMA 5 Vital Records: Identifying, Managing, and Recovering Business-Critical Records) we received a number of comments from several archival and government groups regarding this issue.  Their contention was that the term "vital records" had an older meaning (the one Patrick discusses) and this definition had precedent over our definition in the standard (and our usage in records management).  However, the overwhelming majority of RIM practitioners who commented wanted the standard to continue to use the term "vital records" as defined in the standard since it was a familiar term in records management.  The standard is about to undergo revision, so it is possible this issue will once again arise.

Ginny Jones
(Virginia A. Jones, CRM, FAI)
Records Manager
Information Technology Division
Newport News Dept. of Public Utilities
Newport News, VA
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