National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Records Policies

Records Policies

National Records of Scotland (NRS) has devised policies for the way it selects or administers records. These pages contain the policies which we have on areas such as conservation, selection of government records, records management and data protection.

Collections Management Policy

The work of appraising, selecting, cataloguing, conserving and storing the records held by NRS is overseen by the Records and Archives Services staff. Their work is framed by a large body of policies, procedures and desk instructions. The overarching governance of the Service and the oversight of those policies and their implementation rests with the Records and Archives Board (RAB). The structure and remit of RAB is set out in the Collections Management Policy (39 KB PDF).

Collections Information Policy

The collections information policy (115 KB PDF) sets out how NRS seeks to take intellectual and physical control of its collections and to provide and maintain appropriate catalogues to make them accessible to our staff and our many users.

Records Reclosure and Takedown Policy

This policy outlines why and how records which are held, preserved and made available by National Records of Scotland (NRS) may need to be closed to further public access, or taken down from view on our public websites.

Published information on reclosed records and web pages removed under takedown, is available  on our Records Reclosure and Takedown Policy page.

Conservation Policy

Our conservation policy provides the framework for the work of caring for and preserving the record collections in storage, in transit, when undergoing conservation treatment, during digital imaging or surrogacy programmes, on display including exhibition loan, and the environmental conditions within the historic buildings holding these collections.

Fragile records policy

Staff and researchers regularly find records in a condition which would merit attention from conservation staff. The fragile records policy was developed to set out the procedures for reporting records in a fragile condition, as part of our committment to the preservation of the records in our care.

Selection of government records

We havebeen selecting government records for preservation for many years. Our selection of government records policy is designed to improve implementation of Freedom of Information and to make government more open and accountable.

Selection of court and legal records

Court records, public registers and Crown Office records are retained and preserved in NRS because of their vital importance in guaranteeing property and personal rights in Scotland, in underpinning the proper working of the civil and criminal judicial systems, and for their uses in historical and other research. Our court and legal records policy describes how we select these records for preservation.

Private records policy

Historic records of private individuals, families and businesses form an important part of the holdings of the NRS. Although these records have been created by private individuals, families, companies or other bodies, they contain much that is vital to understanding the history of the Scottish peoples and it is self evident that they must be preserved. Some are accepted as a gift in lieu of inheritance tax, some come from generous donors as outright gifts, some are purchased, but many are still held only as deposits (loans) and so remain private property. Our private records policy covers the future acquisition of collections of private records.

Maps and Plans Policy

Our maps and plans collections are amongst the finest in the UK and contain the best corpus of Scottish manuscript maps and plans held by any institution. The scope of the collections covers both manuscript and printed topographical maps and plans, with particular strengths in estate plans and railway plans; architectural drawings; topographical and geological maps and drawings relating to coal mining in Scotland; and engineering drawings, principally of ships, railway engines and rolling stock. Our maps and plans policy contains a statement of principles on the selection and acquisition of maps, plans, architectural and technical drawings.

Records transfer policy

Our transfer policy suggests the circumstances in which the NRS would consider the transfer of some of its existing holdings of records of local interest to the custody of local authority and other archives in Scotland.

Data protection policy

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 regulate the processing of personal information within the UK. We are committed to ensuring that our employees comply with these laws and that any personal information we collect is used fairly, stored safely and not disclosed to any person unlawfully. The NRS Data Protection Policy sets out our obligations and demonstrates our commitment to compliance. The policy applies both to the information we create and receive in the course of administering our own business, and to the records of organisations and private individuals deposited with NRS for archiving purposes in the public interest. For more information refer to our data protection page.

Records management policy

The systematic management of the NRS's own administrative records is essential in order to protect and preserve them as evidence of actions, support future activities and business decisions and ensure accountability to present and future stakeholders and customers. The records management policy sets out the procedures and practices needed to control and manage the NRS's own records efficiently and effectively.

Digital Preservation Strategy

The Keeper of the Records of Scotland has a statutory duty to preserve and make available, in the long term, records in all formats deposited by stakeholder bodies – that is the Scottish Courts, Scottish Government and Parliament, public bodies and related agencies, and private individuals, estates and organisations.The Digital Preservation Strategy  (411 KB PDF) will enable The National Records of Scotland to better meet these obligations in relation to ‘born digital’ records in a manner which is efficient, flexible, high quality, and trustworthy.

Collections Information Plan

The collections information plan (192 KB PDF) shows the cataloguing work planned and currently in progress across the Records and Archive Services' teams.

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