What does a Records Custodian do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A records custodian is a person who is tasked with taking care of records, whether they may be physical or electronic in nature. Training in how to keep and maintain records is offered at many technical schools, especially schools which prepare students for careers in administration and business. Records custodians may be graduates of such programs or may learn the work on the job, depending on the nature of the organization they keep records for.

A records custodian should be familiar with a filing system.
A records custodian should be familiar with a filing system.

Designating an official person in charge of records also creates a chain of command which can be used for procedures which involve records. When a new record is generated, the records custodian is responsible for filing it in the system, and will also retrieve it when it is needed for reference purposes. In the event of a subpoena, the records custodian pulls the relevant records, verifies that they are accurate, and certifies them as such with an attached document. This document can be used in lieu of asking a records custodian to appear in court, as it indicates that the records are true and correct to the best of the custodian's knowledge.

In order to work as a records custodian, it is necessary to be familiar with a filing system. Different types of systems are used in various industries and within an industry there can be a great deal of variance between offices. The records custodian is also responsible for complying with confidentiality laws and other pieces of legislation which are designed to protect the integrity of records, including keeping records in a secured area, not releasing records without permission, and making sure that the physical premises where the records are stored are in good condition.

When someone has a request for a record, the records custodian processes the request, determining whether or not it can be legally granted and pulling the relevant record if it is. The custodian also refiles records when they are returned to the area in which records are stored. After set periods of time have elapsed, these professionals can also destroy records which no longer legally need to be kept on file.

Records custodians may be assisted by a staff, depending on the number of records in their care. The custodian must train the staff, confirm that they comply with legal and company procedures, and make sure that the staff are scheduled appropriately. Records custodians may also be responsible for hiring new staff as needed.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@lonelygod - If you friend is that great with organizing and dealing with details he should definitely look into becoming either a records custodian or archival worker.

One of my cousins works as a records custodian at the local school board and it is really amazing the amount of paperwork that one organization needs to store. While many things are on computers these days, there are almost always paper backups. With paper there comes the need for someone to keep everything neat and orderly.

My cousin actually really likes his work because it affords him a lot of privacy and he can pretty much create whichever filing system he thinks works best. Perhaps your friend would love that kind of freedom too.


A records custodian job sounds like a great job for someone who loves organizing and is really attentive to detail. For the longest time I have been trying to help my friend find a job that would suit his personality.

My friend is a bit of a recluse and enjoys spending much of his time organizing his personal records and filing things in a really precise fashion. It always amazes me that he knows where literally thousands of facts can be found instantly.

I imagine this job would be great for someone with this kind of memory. I may have to mention the position of records custodian to him the next time he visits. Who knows, it could be his true calling.

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