Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 42.1. Libraries
Chapter 7. Virginia Public Records Act

§ 42.1-77. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Agency" means all boards, commissions, departments, divisions, institutions, and authorities, and parts thereof, of the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions and includes the offices of constitutional officers.

"Archival record" means a public record of continuing and enduring value useful to the citizens of the Commonwealth and necessary to the administrative functions of public agencies in the conduct of services and activities mandated by law that is identified on a Library of Virginia approved records retention and disposition schedule as having sufficient informational value to be permanently maintained by the Commonwealth.

"Archives" means the program administered by The Library of Virginia for the preservation of archival records.

"Board" means the State Library Board.

"Conversion" means the act of moving electronic records to a different format, especially data from an obsolete format to a current format.

"Custodian" means the public official in charge of an office having public records.

"Disaster plan" means the information maintained by an agency that outlines recovery techniques and methods to be followed in case of an emergency that impacts the agency's records.

"Electronic record" means a public record whose creation, storage, and access require the use of an automated system or device. Ownership of the hardware, software, or media used to create, store, or access the electronic record has no bearing on a determination of whether such record is a public record.

"Essential public record" means records that are required for recovery and reconstruction of any agency to enable it to resume its core operations and functions and to protect the rights and interests of persons.

"Librarian of Virginia" means the State Librarian of Virginia or his designated representative.

"Lifecycle" means the creation, use, maintenance, and disposition of a public record.

"Migration" means the act of moving electronic records from one information system or medium to another to ensure continued access to the records while maintaining the records' authenticity, integrity, reliability, and usability.

"Original record" means the first generation of the information and is the preferred version of a record. Archival records should to the maximum extent possible be original records.

"Preservation" means the processes and operations involved in ensuring the technical and intellectual survival of authentic records through time.

"Public official" means all persons holding any office created by the Constitution of Virginia or by any act of the General Assembly, the Governor and all other officers of the executive branch of the state government, and all other officers, heads, presidents, or chairmen of boards, commissions, departments, and agencies of the state government or its political subdivisions.

"Public record" or "record" means recorded information that documents a transaction or activity by or with any public officer, agency, or employee of an agency. Regardless of physical form or characteristic, the recorded information is a "public record" if it is produced, collected, received, or retained in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business. The medium upon which such information is recorded has no bearing on the determination of whether the recording is a "public record."

For purposes of this chapter, "public record" does not include (i) nonrecord materials, meaning materials made or acquired and preserved solely for reference use or exhibition purposes, extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience or reference, or stocks of publications or (ii) records that are not related to or affect the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official ceremonial duties of a public official, including the correspondence, diaries, journals, or notes that are not prepared for, utilized for, circulated, or communicated in the course of the transaction of public business.

"Records retention and disposition schedule" means a Library of Virginia-approved timetable stating the required retention period and disposition action of a records series. The administrative, fiscal, historical, and legal value of a public record shall be considered in appraising its appropriate retention schedule. The terms "administrative," "fiscal," "historical," and "legal" value shall be defined as:

1. "Administrative value": Records shall be deemed of administrative value if they have continuing utility in the operation of an agency.

2. "Fiscal value": Records shall be deemed of fiscal value if they are needed to document and verify financial authorizations, obligations, and transactions.

3. "Historical value": Records shall be deemed of historical value if they contain unique information, regardless of age, that provides understanding of some aspect of the government and promotes the development of an informed and enlightened citizenry.

4. "Legal value": Records shall be deemed of legal value if they document actions taken in the protection and proving of legal or civil rights and obligations of individuals and agencies.

1976, c. 746; 1977, c. 501; 1981, c. 637; 1987, c. 217; 1990, c. 778; 1994, cc. 390, 955; 1998, cc. 427, 470; 2005, c. 787; 2006, c. 60; 2022, c. 355.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.