Archive Index Sytstems



Wisconsin State Laws on Optical Images


State Archivist and Records Manager:

Peter Gottlieb, State Archivist

State Historical Society 816 State St. Madison, WI 53706

608-264-6450 fax: 608-264-6486

Susan E. Davis, Asst. State Archivist


Virginia Fritzsch, Local Government Records


Brenda Burk, State Records Archivist


Timothy Spindler

Electronic Records Archivist


Records Mgmt.Steven B. Hirsch, Chief Records Mgmt.

Dept. of Administration

4622 University Ave. Madison, WI 53702

608-266-2996 fax: 608-266-5050


I was asked to respond to your query of December 26. The appropriate statutes

can be found at the following web address:


The statutes are maintained by the Legislative Reference Bureau in Acrobat

PDF files. The laws and Wis. Supreme Court Rules can be found on Lexus/

Nexus as well as the statutes. The pertinent statutes are:

Wis. Stat. 16.61

Wis. Stat. 19.21

Wis. Stat. 59.145

Wis. Laws - Wisconsin Act 201 (1995) Senate Bill 639

Wis. Supreme Court Rules (SCR) Chap. 72.05

I have also enclosed a copy of the administrative rule relating to optical


If you have further questions feel free to contact me.

Sincerely yours,

Tim Spindler

Electronic Records Archivist



Adm 12.01 Authority

Adm 12.02 Purpose

Adm 12.03 Definitions

Adm 12.04 Process required for convexion o/records to optical

Adm 12.05 Records accessibility

Adm 12.06 Records privacy

Adm 12.07 Records protection

Adm 12.08 Other provisions

Adm 12.09 Additional guidance

Adm 12.01 Authority. This chapter is promulgated under

the authority of ss. 16.004 (1), 16.611 (2) (a) and (c),

16.612 and 227.11 (2) (a), Stats., to implement s. 16.61,


Adm 12.02 Purpose. The purpose of this rule is to au-

thorize state Mendes and counties to maintain records on

any optical imaging system that accurately reproduces or

forms a durable medium for recordhig the original infor-

mation, subject to the requirements of this rule.

Adm 12.03 Definitions. In this chapter.

(1) "Accurately reproduces" means that when displayed

on a retrieval device or reproduced on paper, all informa-

tion exhibits a high degree of legibility and readability.

(2) "Board" means the public records and forms board.

(3) "Legibility" means the quality of a letter or numeral

that enables the observer to identify it positively and

quickly to the exclusion of all other letters or numerals.

(4) "Optical disk" has the meaning specified in s. 990.01

(25g), Stats.

(5) "Optical imaging" has the meaning specified in s.

990.01 (25r), Stats.

(6) "Public records" has the meaning specified hi s. 16.61

(2)(b), Stats.

(7) "Readability" means the quality of a group of letters

or numerals behig recognized as words or complete num-


(8) "Records" for county government has the meaning

specified hi s. 19.32 (2), Stats.

(9) "Records series" has the meaning specified hi S. 16.61

(2) (c), Stats.

(10) "Retention schedule" has the meaning specified hi

s. 16.61 (2) (cm), Stats.

(11) "State agencies" has the meaning specified hi s.

16.61 (2) (d), Stats.

(12) "WORM" system means an optical imaging system

that can be Written-Once-but-Read-Many tunes.

Adm 12.04 Process required for conversion of rocords to

optical Imaging. (1) A feasibility study shall be completed

by each state agency or county that wishes to utilize opti-

cal imaging. The study shall include an analysis of the

ongoing costs, costs compared to current costs of doing and conversion coats.

(2) The feasibility study shall also include sufficient in-

formation to do all of the following.

(a) Determine if the records are public records as speci-

fied hi s. 16.61 (2) (b), Stats., for state agencies or s. 19.32

(2), Stats., for counties.

(b) Categorize and group related records into records se-

ries to facilitate analysis.

(c) Document the records series and record keeping

practices, particularly filing procedures for the records se-


(d) Identify the needs of established users of the records

and records series both inside and outside the state agency

or county department. State-wide or county-wide legal,

fiscal, administrative and historical record values shall be

considered hi the identification, analysis and appraisal


(3) Establish retention schedules that determine the

length of time records or records series must be main-

tained prior to destruction or transfer of records to a

torical depository.

(a) State agencies shall submit records retention sched-

ules for records to be converted to optical imaging for ap-

proval by the board prior to maintaining the records series

on any optical disk system.

(b) For counties, a county ordinance determining how

long records must be maintained shall be adopted by a

county board and approved, if necessary, by the board

under s. 19.21 (5) (c), Stats.

Adm 12.05 Records accessibility. State agencies and

counties shall:

(1) Maintain adequate safeguards against tampering

with and loss of records or records series, consistent with

the established retention periods for the records or records


Resister, June, 1993, No. 450

(2) Assure that records or records series maintained on

optical imaging systems can be made available to the pub-

lic in conformance with es. 19.21 to 19.39, Stats.

(3) Maintain and arrange all records and records series

and their related indexes in a manner that permits prompt

location and retrieval.

(4) Provide any hardware and software that is needed

for locating, reading and promptly reproducing on paper

any records or records series retained on optical imaging

systems. Hardware and software shall be available and in

good working order at designated state and county offices.

Maintenance of the hardware and software shall be pro-

vided by state agencies or counties utilizing the optical

imaging system.

(5) Protect identified records or records series with sec-

ondary values from destruction and make arrangements

to transfer these records or records series and the technical

documentation of the optical imaging system to the ap-

propriate party when indicated persuant to the approved

retention schedule or county records retention ordinance.

Legal ownership of records identified as having historical

value transfers to the state historical society of Wisconsin,

under the terms of the established retention schedule or

county ordinance.

Adm 12.06 Records privacy. (1) State agencies and coun-

ties shall assure that confidential or restricted access to

records or records series maintained on optical imaging

systems are managed in a manner that limits access to

those persons authorized by law, administrative rule or es-

tablished agency policy.

(2) Records or records series that have reached their ap-

proved retention period and do not have secondary value

shall be routinely destroyed. For WORM systems, de*

struction of indexes to obsolete records is sufficient, al-

though if possible counties or state agencies should struc-

ture records or records series converted to WORM

terns so that the WORM disk as a whole can be destroyed.

Adm 12.07 Rocords protoction. A WORM system is rec-

ommended for transferring public records or records series

to optical imagine systems, although all optical formats

are acceptable. For records or records series with historical

values as determined in s. Adm 12.04 (3), counties or state

agencies shall offer the original records to the state histori-

cal society of Wisconsin after verification. The state his-

torical society may, on a case-by-case basis, choose to de-

cline acceptance of historical records converted to optical

disks. Counties and state agencies shall cooperate with the

state historical society to protect records or records series

with secondary historical values. For public records with

10 years through permanent retention periods, it is recom-

mended, although not required, that the originals be re-

tained for the duration of the established retention period

either in hard copy or on microfilm that meets state stan-

dards. State agencies and counties must be aware of the

need to maintain long term readability and intelligibility

of information stored on optical imaging systems in light

of the higher risk of loss due to hardware and software de-

pendency. State agencies and counties shall develop and

implement procedures that include, at a minimum, the fol-


(1) Maintaining 2 copies of all records or records series

on optical imaging systems using accepted computer

backup procedures. One periodically updated copy shall

be stored for the full required retention period at a sepa-

rate location with automatic fire suppression capability

that can provide a stable environment on a year-round ba-

sis. A constant temperature of 65-75' Fahrenheit and a

constant relative humidity level of 30-50% shall be main-

tained. The environment shall not have high levels of par-

ticulate matter.

(2) Verifying the legibility and readability of a statisti-

cally significant sampling of record images to ensure that

the images axe legible and readable. Original images that

are not legible or readable, shall be flagged to alert users.

(3) Conducting 'inspections of a statistically significant

sampling of images stored on optical imaging systems at

least once every 3 years to verify that there has been no

degradation of image quality.

(4) Transferring and verifying records or records stored

on an optical disk to a new optical disk before the manu-

facturer's certified useful life of the original disk is ex-


(s) Prior to upgrading or replacing an optical imaging

system with an incompatible new system, converting the

records and indexes to the records stored on the old system

into the new system before the old system is taken out of

service. This conversion includes verification procedures.

Adm 12.08 Other provisions. (1) Any state agency or

county may utilize paper, microfilm or optical imaging or

combinations of the three, as media for records or records

storage. Any system of records shall be used consistently

and shall be relied upon in the regular course of business as

being accurate, reliable and trns orthy.

(2) Any state agency or county utilizing optical imaging

technology shall develop procedures to expunge records if

required to do so by court order. For WORM systems, de-

struction of indexes to expunged records is acceptable.

Adm 12.09 Additional guidance. State agencies and

counties are encouraged to follow the guidelines detailed

in the report entitled, Digital Imaging and Optical Media

Storage Systems.' Guidelines for State and Local Government

Agencies (A Joint Report by the National Archives and

Records Administration and the National Association of

Government Archives and Records Administrators), Decem-

ber, 1991 in planning for optical imaging projects.


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