Providing Access to Records in Non-Paper Formats

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The records of governmental offices are no longer only paper documents or bound books. Records may now be found in a diverse mixture of media. If your office stores records in various formats, such as audiotape or videotape, you may need to make sure some means of accessing the record is readily available to the public. Since the definition of a public record includes records of many formats (including various audio and video records and electronic files), the attorney general has opined that it may violate the Public Records Act if the custodian of the records stored in these other formats could not provide a means for the public to inspect these records.[1]  This may require you to have a VCR and television or tape player available for use in your office or somewhere in the courthouse. Separate statutes specifically related to electronic records and microfilm records also require that equipment be available to allow viewing of records stored in these other media.[2]These mandates may be of particular concern to an archives facility which may store records of many different formats in one location. Allowing continued access to these records may prove difficult for both the office that created the records and the archives.

For additional information, see Electronic Records.

            [1]  Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen.  No. 01-021 (February 8, 2001).

            [2]  T.C.A. §§ 10-7-121 and 10-7-406.