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primary value

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n. ~ The value of records derived from the original use that caused them to be created.


Primary values include administrative, fiscal, legal, and operational value. These values relate to the usefulness or significance to the creator as regards managing ongoing, day-to-date programmatic and housekeeping activities, tracking finances and budgets, and protecting legal interests. The records that result from these activities can demonstrate accomplishments, accountability, fiscal responsibility, and rights and interests.

(Ham 1993, p. 7) Primary values are ephemeral. Though a few records may have long-term or even permanent primary value, most of these values expire when the activity or action that resulted in the record's creation is completed. For example, when a political campaign has run its course, when there is a satisfactory settlement of a will in a probate court, or when the seven years of risk of an IRS audit have passed, the primary value of the records ends. For the archivist, primary values usually are of secondary importance.
(Schellenberg 1984, p. 58) The values that inhere in modern public records are of two kinds: primary values for the originating agency itself and secondary value for other agencies and private users. Public records are created to accomplish the purposes for which an agency has been created – administrative, fiscal, legal, and operating. But public records are preserved in an archival institution because they have value that will exist long after they cease to be of current use, and because their values will be for others than the current users.

A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology