Archives and History
Guidelines for Keeping Minutes
For hui amorangi, dioceses, parishes and committees of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia : Te Hāhi Mihinare ki Aotearoa ki Niu Tireni, ki Ngā Moutere o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa.
Anglican Archives and History Committee - 2012
Why keep minutes?
Minutes are the formal record of a committee’s decisions and actions.
When they are confirmed they become an integral part of the history of an organisation.
Minutes are also the agreed record of a committee. No matter what recollections those who attended the meeting have of the events and decisions of that meeting, the minutes are what they all agreed should and did happen.
Minutes are a way of passing on information to those who become subsequent members of a committee.
Who keeps minutes?
Each Diocese, Hui Amorangi and Parish will have a range of bodies for which minutes need to be kept. These may range from Synod appointed committees to small, short-lived and more informal committees or groups. The same processes need to be applied to each committee. All minute takers and keepers (i.e. those whose responsibility it is to preserve the minutes, eg archivists) need to be aware of the importance of their job.
What form should the minutes take?
Minutes take one of two forms. The first records the process by which a decision was made. Often both sides of an argument are recorded in considerable detail, sometimes verbatim. These minutes are particularly useful when it is necessary to seek how and why a decision was made.
The second form is more formal, and the main points that will be covered at the meeting will often be prepared in advance from the agenda. The minute taker fills in the blanks and expands information only if and when it is required.
What needs to be in the Minutes?
1. The full formal title of the Committee
2. The date and time of the meeting
3. The location of the meeting
4. Those present, including
- the name of the person in the chair,
- whether anyone arrives or leaves the meeting and the time
- the name of anyone else in attendance for a particular reason
6. Minutes should record
- Motions, clearly stated with no possible ambiguity
- Every motion, with the mover and seconder and whether or not the motion was carried
- Any dissent from the motion
- Any points which occurred in the debate which will help to understand the decision which is made
What should the minutes look like?
Each Diocese, Hui Amorangi and Parish will have its own style.
Consistent headings are important for finding information at a later time.
Headings can either be in the margin, or run across the page. In either case they should be on a separate line.
A clearly established and understood level of importance should be followed through the use of font size, bolding/italics, or indentation.
How should minutes be ordered?
- Attached Papers in the order in which they are dealt with in the minutes. This includes any material which was sent out with the agenda and any material which is tabled at the meeting.
This official set of minutes should be on acid free white paper
The minutes should also have a wide margin to enable binding. If it is planned to double side the official copy of the minutes then a suitable binding margin (about 2.5cm) needs to be allowed on each binding side.
The official set of minutes should not include the page numbers which were on the papers when they were sent out to committee members, but should be numbered sequentially in whatever form they are kept. This will allow accurate and easier indexing.
Changes to minutes
If for any reason at a subsequent meeting, any amendment is made to a minute, an annotation should be made immediately adjacent to the incorrect portion of the record. This annotation should be in 2B pencil within square [ ] brackets and contain a reference to the location of the change, eg [see Minutes of 16 December 2015], followed by the heading under which the change can be found. Do not cross out or cover up original information.
Confidential Minutes/Public Excluded Minutes
Each Diocese, Hui Amorangi and Parish will have its own agreed and consistent policy for dealing with these minutes. What ever decision is made it needs to be borne in mind that some of these minutes may never be available to the public and others will become accessible.
Some organizations choose to store these minutes and their associated agenda papers separately. This can lead to loss, misplacement and lack of immediate context, particularly if it is a matter which sometimes is discussed openly and sometimes confidentially.
If they are stored in association with current minutes then clearly defined protocols need to be written to ensure that access is confined to those who should see the information.
However at some time in the future some, but not necessarily all, of these minutes may move out of the confidential category so annotations need to be made which link these minutes with the decisions about them which are recorded in the main body of minutes.
In order to write a comprehensive and accurate account of the organization historians will need access to these confidential minutes, so any policy needs to clearly state when minutes which were originally confidential are no longer considered to be in that category after a stated length of time.
How should the official set of minutes be stored?
A hard copy of all minutes should always be kept. This should be printed out as soon as possible after they are confirmed. This guards against accidental or deliberate manipulation of the record while it exists only in digital form.
In the past minute books were pasted or taped into hard backed exercise books or guard books.
This is no longer recommended because:
- Sellotape looses its stickiness, peels off and leaves brown stains and the pages fall out and are easily lost
- Glue, if not acid free, stains pages, looses its stickiness and the pages fall out and are easily lost. Poor gluing also produces pages that are not flat.
- Items tabled at meetings are often forgotten and not placed in the correct order. This often led to pages being stapled, paper clipped and pinned in the correct place. Pins, paper clips and staples rust and leave stains and pages fall out.
- Guard books and exercise books unless properly constructed split at the spine and whole sections of papers can be lost.
A loose leaf system has its advantages, in that all the material which belongs to a meeting can be ordered, and the page numbers can be added sequentially to the official copy as required. It does have its risks, as people can remove pages and forget to put them back, and the punched holes can cause problems for binding.
An acid free or polypropylene box is probably the best method. It has all the advantages of the loose leaf system without the disadvantages of holes and wear and tear. It has the same risks as a loose leaf system, but is more easily controlled.
There should also be a digital backup. This includes not only desk tops or towers, but also the whole server back up. When hardware and software change a process should be put in place so that the minutes can still be accessed.
From time to time the hard copy minutes should be bound professionally. A useful height for binding is about 7cm. This height should take account of the additional pages which will contain an index.
Preparation for Binding will include a suitable front page, and dates of the minutes which are included in the volume.
This can be accomplished by
using proprietary software which should be tested for it appropriateness for both the minutes being indexed and the resulting index which is required
by hand, by a person who has some knowledge of the organization. Courses are available in indexing, but they need to be evaluated carefully.
The best time to complete the indexing is immediately after the minutes have been confirmed at the next meeting.
Depending on the decisions made about confidential/public excluded minutes, indexing of these minutes may need to be completed separately.
Responsibility for the Minutes
Each Diocese or Hui Amorangi or Parish will have individuals who are responsible for various stages of the minute process
- preparing the agenda
- taking the minutes
- sending out minutes to committee members
- storage of minutes
It is however the Chairperson who signs the minutes following the agreement of the members who were present that they are a true and accurate record.
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