138.17 GOVERNMENT RECORDS; ADMINISTRATION.
Subdivision 1. Destruction, preservation, reproduction of records; prima facie evidence.
(a) The attorney general, legislative auditor in the case of state records, state auditor in the case
of local records, and director of the Minnesota Historical Society, hereinafter director, shall
constitute the Records Disposition Panel. The members of the panel shall have power by majority
vote to direct the destruction or sale for salvage of government records determined to be no longer
of any value, or to direct the disposition by gift to the Minnesota Historical Society or otherwise
of government records determined to be valuable for preservation. The Records Disposition Panel
may by majority vote order any of those records to be reproduced by photographic or other
means, and order that photographic or other reproductions be substituted for the originals of
them. It may direct the destruction or sale for salvage or other disposition of the originals from
which they were made. Photographic or other reproductions shall for all purposes be deemed the
originals of the records reproduced when so ordered by the records disposition panel, and shall be
admissible as evidence in all courts and in proceedings of every kind. A facsimile, exemplified or
certified copy of a photographic, optical disk imaging, or other reproduction, or an enlargement
or reduction of it, shall have the same effect and weight as evidence as would a certified or
exemplified copy of the original. The Records Disposition Panel, by majority vote, may direct the
storage of government records, except as herein provided, and direct the storage of photographic
or other reproductions. Photographic or other reproductions substituted for original records shall
be disposed of in accordance with the procedures provided for the original records.
(b) For the purposes of this chapter:
(1) the term "government records" means state and local records, including all cards,
correspondence, discs, maps, memoranda, microfilms, papers, photographs, recordings, reports,
tapes, writings, optical disks, and other data, information, or documentary material, regardless of
physical form or characteristics, storage media or conditions of use, made or received by an officer
or agency of the state and an officer or agency of a county, city, town, school district, municipal
subdivision or corporation or other public authority or political entity within the state pursuant to
state law or in connection with the transaction of public business by an officer or agency;
(2) the term "state record" means a record of a department, office, officer, commission,
commissioner, board or any other agency, however styled or designated, of the executive branch
of state government; a record of the state legislature; a record of any court, whether of statewide
or local jurisdiction; and any other record designated or treated as a state record under state law;
(3) the term "local record" means a record of an agency of a county, city, town, school
district, municipal subdivision or corporation or other public authority or political entity;
(4) the term "records" excludes data and information that does not become part of an official
transaction, library and museum material made or acquired and kept solely for reference or
exhibit purposes, extra copies of documents kept only for convenience of reference and stock of
publications and processed documents, and bonds, coupons, or other obligations or evidences of
indebtedness, the destruction or other disposition of which is governed by other laws;
(5) the term "state archives" means those records preserved or appropriate for preservation
as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other
activities of government or because of the value of the information contained in them, when
determined to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant continued preservation by the
state of Minnesota and accepted for inclusion in the collections of the Minnesota Historical
(c) If the decision is made to dispose of records by majority vote, the Minnesota Historical
Society may acquire and retain whatever they determine to be of potential historical value.
Subd. 1a. Records inspection.
Government records which a state agency, political
subdivision, or statewide system lists on a records disposition application or records schedule, or
on which archival assistance or advice is requested, may be inspected by state archives' employees
if state archives gives prior notice. Employees of the archives shall have access to the records
for the purpose of determining the historical or other continuing value of the records, regardless
of the records' classification pursuant to chapter 13 or 270B. Employees of the archives shall be
liable to the penalties set forth for improper disclosure by them of private, confidential, nonpublic,
or protected nonpublic data inspected for this purpose.
Subd. 1b. Transfer process.
After July 1, 1982, all records deemed to be of continuing value
and authorized for transfer to the archives by the Records Disposition Panel shall be retained by
the requesting agency or may be transferred to the archives in accordance with subdivision 1,
notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 13. The responsible authority of the state agency,
political subdivision, or statewide system transferring records to the archives shall notify the
archivist or a designee with regard to the records transferred of the classification of the records
pursuant to chapter 13.
Subd. 1c. Access to archives records.
(a) All records transferred to the archives shall be
accessible to the public unless the archives determines that the information:
(1) was compiled for law enforcement purposes and disclosure would (i) materially impair
the effectiveness of an ongoing investigation, criminal intelligence operation, or law enforcement
proceeding; (ii) identify a confidential informant; (iii) reveal confidential investigative techniques
or procedures, including criminal intelligence activity; or (iv) endanger the life of an individual;
(2) is administrative or technical information, including software, operating protocols,
employee manuals, or other information, the disclosure of which would jeopardize the security of
a record-keeping system;
(3) is proprietary information, including computer programs and software and other types
of information manufactured or marketed by persons under exclusive legal right, owned by the
agency or entrusted to it;
(4) contains trade secrets or confidential commercial and financial information obtained,
upon request, from a person;
(5) is library, archival, or museum material contributed by private persons to the extent of
any lawful limitation imposed upon the material; or
(6) if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
Disclosure of an individually identifiable record does not constitute a clearly unwarranted
invasion of personal privacy if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the privacy interest of
(b) The society may withhold access to state archives from any person who willfully
mutilates, damages, or defaces archival records, or wrongfully removes them from state archives;
provided that the society shall notify the person of the decision to withhold access, and the person
may, within 30 days, appeal the decision to the Executive Council of the society.
(c) The state archivist shall notify any person from whom access is withheld pursuant to
paragraph (a). The person may, within 30 days of the day the notice is sent, appeal the archivist's
determination to the Executive Council of the society. The Executive Council shall, within 30
days of the filing of an appeal, issue a decision determining if the archivist has correctly applied
the standards of paragraph (a). The decision of the Executive Council may be appealed to the
District Court of Ramsey County.
Subd. 2.[Repealed, 1971 c 529 s 15
Subd. 3. University; State Agricultural Society; Minnesota Historical Society.
1971, chapter 529, sections 1 to 14 shall not apply to the public records of the University of
Minnesota, the Minnesota State Agriculture Society, or the Minnesota Historical Society.
Subd. 4. State library.
No public records of the Minnesota State Library shall be subject
to the disposition or orders provided by Laws 1971, chapter 529, except with the consent of the
Subd. 5. Supreme Court.
No public records of the Supreme Court shall be subject to the
disposition or orders provided by Laws 1971, chapter 529, except with the consent of the court.
Subd. 6. Archivist; equipment; supplies.
The Minnesota Historical Society shall employ a
professional archivist, who shall be known as the state archivist, and other agents and personnel
as are necessary to enable it to carry out its duties and powers. The archivist shall be appointed by
the director of the society.
Subd. 7. Records management.
It shall be the duty of the head of each state agency and the
governing body of each county, municipality, and other subdivision of government to establish
and maintain an active, continuing program for the economical and efficient management of the
records of each agency, county, municipality, or other subdivision of government. Public officials
shall prepare an inclusive inventory of records in their custody, to which shall be attached a
schedule, approved by the head of the governmental unit or agency having custody of the records,
establishing a time period for the retention or disposal of each series of records. When the
schedule is unanimously approved by the records disposition panel, the head of the governmental
unit or agency having custody of the records may dispose of the type of records listed in the
schedule at a time and in a manner prescribed in the schedule for particular records which were
created after the approval. A list of records disposed of pursuant to this subdivision shall be
maintained by the governmental unit or agency. When records containing not public data as
defined in section
, subdivision 8a, are being disposed of under this subdivision, the records
must be destroyed in a way that prevents their contents from being determined.
Subd. 8. Emergency records preservation.
Every county, municipality, or other subdivision
of government may institute a program for the preservation of necessary documents essential to
the continuity of government in the event of a disaster or emergency.
Subd. 9. Optical disk standards.
The Records Disposition Panel shall develop standards for
storage of all government records on optical disk by January 1, 1991.
Subd. 10. Optical image storage.
(a) Any government record, including a record with
archival value, may be transferred to and stored on a nonerasable optical imaging system and
retained only in that format, if the requirements of this section are met.
(b) All documents preserved on nonerasable optical imaging systems must meet standards
for permanent records specified in section
15.17, subdivision 1
, and must be kept available for
retrieval so long as any law requires. Standards under section
15.17, subdivision 1
, may not be
inconsistent with efficient use of optical imaging systems.
(c) A government entity storing a record on an optical imaging system shall create and store
a backup copy of the record at a site other than the site where the original is kept. The government
entity shall retain the backup copy and operable retrieval equipment so long as any law requires
the original to be retained. The backup copy required by this paragraph must be preserved either
(1) on a nonerasable optical imaging system; or (2) by another reproduction method approved by
the records disposition panel.
(d) All contracts for the purchase of optical imaging systems used pursuant to this chapter
shall contain terms that insure continued retrievability of the optically stored images and conform
to any guidelines that may be established by the Office of Enterprise Technology for perpetuation
of access to stored data.
History: 1947 c 547 s 5; 1961 c 175 s 3-8; 1963 c 695 s 2,3; 1971 c 529 s 4-10; 1973 c 32 s
2,3; 1973 c 123 art 5 s 7; 1974 c 184 s 8,9; 1976 c 324 s 22; 1978 c 717 s 2; 1981 c 311 s 39; 1982
c 545 s 24; 1982 c 573 s 3-8; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 365 s 18; 1990 c 506 art 2 s 17,18; 1991 c 291
art 21 s 4; 1991 c 345 art 1 s 77; 1993 c 71 s 2; 1997 c 202 art 3 s 35; 1999 c 250 art 1 s 80,81;
2001 c 202 s 10; 2005 c 156 art 5 s 23; 2006 c 212 art 1 s 5; 2006 c 233 s 6; 2006 c 253 s 7,8