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Records Retention Schedule for Wisconsin Public Libraries

On June 12, 2017, the Wisconsin Public Records Board approved a new General Records Schedule for Wisconsin's Public Libraries and Public Library Systems. The general schedule (GRS) establishes the timeframe for the disposal of records that are no longer required for administrative, financial, or legal purposes. Adopting the schedule enables a public library entity to dispose of designated records without prior approval of the Wisconsin Historical Society. (Previously, only those public libraries that had filed individual retention schedules with the Public Records Board and obtained a waiver from the Wisconsin Historical Society were permitted to dispose of records without prior notification and approval.) 

Public libraries are advised to adopt this schedule, even if they do not have all the records listed in it, by completing and submitting this Notification of Adoption to the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Public Records Board. Please be advised that the Wisconsin Public Records Board only meets quarterly, so the notification of approval might not be received for up to a few months after it is submitted.


Two scenarios likely fit public library entities attempting to use this schedule: (a) those using or adopting the General Records Schedule (GRS) for the first time, or (b) those who had adopted the previous GRS (2006) and are now adapting to the new schedule. If adopting for the first time, this records retention schedule is quite straightforward; however, for those used to the previous schedule this new format may seem more difficult to navigate. The following should help simplify the navigation process.

RDA numbers 001 through 032 (found on pages 3 through 11) are unique to public libraries and may or may not reference an RDA number from the previous schedule. If a library adopts the schedule, these records must be retained as detailed in this section.

A section on closed series is located on page 12. These are records that are no longer recognized as library records or are covered in other sections of the schedule. Please note that the RDA numbers listed are from the previous GRS (2006), so those adopting a GRS for the first time need not be concerned about this section, other than to understand that these items do not need to be retained as library records. For example, library newsletters are no longer considered library records and, therefore, do not need to be retained.

The final section, found on pages 14 through 18, details the revision history of some of the records that public library entities must retain but that are covered in other retention schedules approved by the Public Records Board. For example, such records as policy manuals, invoices, and payroll records are not unique to public libraries and, therefore, these types of records are addressed in other general records schedules maintained by the Public Records Board. The Revision History section identifies the RDA number from the previous GRS (2006), the record series title, and the revision made to that RDA number. This is the most confusing part of the new GRS for public libraries; please note that these records must also be retained.

If you have further questions about records management, please email, or take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions About Libraries and Wisconsin's Public Records Law.

For questions about this information, contact Shannon Schultz (608) 266-7270