Field Note Retention After Scanning
Since I opened my doors back in the 90's I've used loose leaf Rite in the Rain field notes. I keep them in binders by project number and over the last decade or so I've been scanning them as well. My question is, I this digital age, do I need to keep the hard copies and if so, for how long. I don't see a problem with purging the hard copies. If the scanned copies are good enough for the IRS and recording office why not the rest of the world.
If I keep this up, someday soon my wife will find me dead and rotting in my office. Buried in a mountain of binders.
I keep my loose leaf notes in the job folder.
When I return to the same area I put them back in a notebook to add to on the next project and then return them to the job folder when finished.
Digital data can be reprinted as needed and it is your choice to keep the hard copies or send them to recycle or waste management or burn.......
I have one job that was done in four units. They each got Job#s and back in the early 90's we were using the same kind of field books you describe. I know one job# has 28 books about 150 pgs each. They are now scanned, I didn't see keeping the books, and all the other paper, we were running out of room. The books got shuffled to a storage shed in a carboard boxes, the garage still has some of them. Now the shed is gone, the garage is getting thinned out, you have to stop it somewhere. Our file cabinets have room in them now, still have a ways to go, but something has to give.
I chatted with an accountant, they moved into a bigger office and wanted to get rid of old files, I think he said a shredding service was going to charge them 20k to shred all the old files. They do it by the pound, something like 60c per pound, maybe it was more, still when you have 10-20 tons to do...……..
I worked for a well respected survey shop in Washington that went through and destroyed all records that were more than seven years old on the belief that after seven years there was no legal obligation to retain, and another that kept all field books going back to the sixties.
I have a hard time imagining that anyone would have an issue with a digital scan, but in court things happen that can boggle the mind.
As an entry level chainman I sure did enjoy checking out those old field notes, like I wonder what Bill was doing around the end of the Vietnam War, oh look he was dipping storm structures in Fremont.
I believe that the courts will respect "records kept in the normal course of business" regardless of how they're stored. I have testified numerous time in the MA Land Court, and a few times in Superior Court. Never have I been asked for original note, or had to "prove" any of my work. I think that a lot of these beliefs about testifying are base don folks that haven't done it, and are advocating extreme caution.