The University of Memphis

Public Records - Inspecting and Copying


Issued: August 26, 2009
Responsible Official: President
Responsible Office: Legal Counsel

Policy Statement

Policy Statement

In accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 10-7-503, Records Open to Public Inspection, all records made or received in connection with the transaction of official University of Memphis business shall at all times, during business hours, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of Tennessee unless otherwise provided by law or regulations made pursuant thereto; and the citizen shall have the right to make copies in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 10-7-506. Any questions concerning public records should be addressed to the University of Memphis Office of Legal Counsel.


 To establish uniform procedures for handling requests under Tennessee's Open Records Law and complying with required confidentiality of records. 


Confidential Information

Information in public records that may not be released under the Tennessee Open Records Laws, including the following and any other information so defined by statute:

  • Unpublished telephone numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Social Security number
  • Driver's license information in employee records, except where driving or operating a vehicle is part of the employee's job description, job duties, or incidental to the performance of his/her job
  • Medical information, sick leave documentation, and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) files
  • Same information as listed above on immediate family members or household members
  • Confidential Sponsored Research records
  • Donor information
  • Audit working papers

Employee RecordsAll records related to employees (faculty, staff, graduate assistants, etc.) that are maintained in the Human Resources Department, Payroll Office, Accounting Office, and any other department that may maintain records that include information on employees.  These records are one type of public record. 

LaborThe time reasonably necessary to produce the requested records and includes the time spent locating, retrieving, reviewing, redacting, and producing the records.   

Public RecordsAll books, papers, electronic mail messages, maps, photographs, films, microfilm, imaged copies, electronic data processing output, sound recordings, or other material regardless of physical form or characteristics made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official University business.

Programming CostThe time reasonably necessary to extract information requested.   


Inspection of Public Records

Who May Inspect/Copy Records:

Except for confidential records as prescribed by law, public records will be open for inspection by citizens of Tennessee in the office of record during business hours. Questions regarding records should be directed to the Office of Legal Counsel. Persons requesting to inspect records must show identification of Tennessee citizenship (i.e., driver's license, voter's registration, etc.) and are requested to complete a Request Form to Inspect/Copy Public Records at

Form or Format of Record to be Inspected/Copied:

The public records laws require that actual records be produced for viewing and/or copying. The nature of certain records and applicable confidentiality requirements, however, may result in providing the requested record/information in a form or format other than the original records form or format. In such cases, the University custodian may coordinate with the requestor to find an alternate form or means of providing access to the same desired record or information as available under the open records laws.

In the event the record includes confidential information, copies of the record will be made and the confidential information will be redacted (stricken) before being made available for inspection.

Specificity of Record Requested:

A request to inspect records must be for a specific record and must be made to the custodian of the record, i.e., the department head, or to the Office of Legal Counsel or the Division of Marketing and Communications. The University is not required to create records or compile information.

Time Required to Produce Records:

If the record(s) cannot be produced for some reason within seven (7) business days, e.g., filed in archives, being used for official business, or it will take additional time to redact (strike) confidential information from the record(s), then the person requesting the record shall be advised when the record(s) will be available. All efforts will be made to provide the record(s) within a reasonable period of time.

Responsibility of the Custodian of the Record:

Custody of the original record is not to be relinquished. The person requesting to inspect/copy the record must do so in the presence of the custodian of the record or an appropriate designee.

Requests from News Media:

Requests to inspect public records submitted by a representative of the news media (newspaper, radio, television, magazine, etc.) must be made through the Division of Marketing and Communications or the Office of Legal Counsel who will arrange for the inspection of the public records.

Notifications to Other Offices:

The Office of Legal Counsel and the Division of Marketing and Communications should always be notified when records are requested to be inspected. These offices may be required to assist in answering questions, coordinating release of any additional information, and ensuring correct understanding of the record.


Inspection of Employee Records

Personnel records of all faculty and staff, including former employees, are subject to inspection under Tennessee's Open Records Law. Persons requesting to inspect personnel records are requested to complete a Request Form to Inspect/Copy Public Records and must show identification of Tennessee citizenship. When a request is made to inspect the personnel record of a current employee and/or inactive employee, the confidential information in the file is redacted (stricken) before inspection. The current employee will be notified that such a request was made and who made the request.

Medical records are maintained separately from personnel records and are considered to be confidential. Examples of medical records include but are not limited to sick leave documentation and employee assistance program (EAP) files.


Copying of Public Records

Upon request, the University will provide, at the requestor's expense, copies of public records. Confidential information shall always be redacted (stricken) before copies are provided. The custodian should not relinquish the original records.

It is the responsibility of the custodian to make copies or arrange for copies to be made as well as to determine and collect copy fees, as stated below.

A.  Letters, manuscripts, maps, books, blueprints, etc.

  1. Require the requestor to identify on the Request Form to Inspect/Copy Public Records the specific record(s) to be copied.
  2. If available to do so, the custodian or designee may immediately make the requested copies and provide the documents to the requestor, so long as the requestor has paid the Bursar's Office for the charges, according to the schedule of Fees/Charges listed below.  The custodian may also choose to take the record(s) to Tiger Copy and Graphics to make the copies for the requestor, whereupon the requestor will pay Tiger Copy and Graphics for the cost of copies per the schedule of Fees/Charges listed below.
  3. Dependent upon the form of the records, e.g., microfiche, microfilm, etc., it may be more appropriate for the copies to be made by the department. In those cases, the copy fee should be paid at the Bursar's Office.
  4. If the custodian or designee is not immediately available to make the copies, the requestor shall be advised that they will be notified when and where the copies will be available for pickup and where payment for the copies may be made. All efforts will be made to provide the copies within a reasonable period of time.

B.  Tape recordings, computer tapes, and other electronic documents

  1. Require the requestor to identify on the Request Form to Inspect/Copy Public Records the records to be copied.
  2. If there is not an established fee rate for the type of reproduction (copy) to be made, the custodian of the public record should expeditiously ascertain the cost for duplication and notify the requestor of the charge. Payment for the charge shall be made in advance at the Bursar's Office.
  3. Upon payment by the requestor, the public record should be duplicated and arrangements made for pickup by the requestor.

C.  Employee's own records

  1. Notwithstanding this procedure, employees desiring copies of their own personnel file shall not be charged more than the Tiger Copy and Graphics price per copy when the copies are made by that area.
  2. The Human Resources Department may, in its sole discretion, provide copies to the employee at no charge.

D.  Determination of Copy Format

  1. Notwithstanding the form of the records, reproduction or copying of records shall be made in a form as best determined by the custodian of the record.
  2. Information on computer tapes and other electronic documents should be copied in a printed format whenever possible, and an actual reproduction of the computer tape, etc. should not be provided.
  3. No records shall be produced or copied in a form to further a commercial, business, or similar purpose, i.e., mailing labels, envelopes, telephone numbers list, special format on computer disk, etc.
  4. If electronic records are provided, they will be produced in read-only format.

E.  Fees/Charges

  1. If copies of the document are sought, the price per copy is 15 cents per page for standard letter and legal pages, plus the actual cost of labor and/or programming to produce the copy, after the first hour. The price per copy for larger documents (such as blue prints and other specialized documents) is the actual cost.
  2. If the determined format of the copy is other than paper photocopy, the requestor shall be charged a reasonable fee. Under special circumstances and depending on how best to reproduce/copy the records, the department, with the approval of the Office of Legal Counsel, may negotiate with the requestor the fee to be paid.
  3. In all cases, the fee/charge for copies shall be paid before release of the records.

F.   Labor/Programming Charges

  1. Labor is the time reasonably necessary to produce the requested records and includes the time spent locating, retrieving, reviewing, redacting, and reproducing the record.  Programming is the time reasonably necessary to exact information requested from a database.  All labor and programming charges, AFTER the first hour, must be paid by the requestor to obtain a copy of the document(s).
  2. In calculating the charges for labor and/or programming, the custodian of records shall determine the number of hours each employee spent producing a request.  The first hour, which is not charged to the requestor, shall be subtracted from the number of hours the highest paid employee(s) spent producing the request.  The remaining hours are then totaled for each employee, and multiplied by that employee's hourly wage.  The results are then added together for the total amount of labor that will be charged.  The form to record and calculate the labor is located at

G.    Delivery Costs

Any actual delivery costs incurred by the University will be added to the final bill for records.

The Office of Legal Counsel and/or Division of Marketing and Communications will be provided copies of inspected and/or copied records (a) upon their request and/or (b) whenever the office providing access to the record(s) believes circumstances warrant.         

Sponsored Research RecordsIn accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 49-7-120, records or materials, as designated by the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, that contain proprietary information, trade secrets, or patentable materials received, generated, ascertained, or discovered during the course of research conducted within the public higher education institutions of Tennessee shall not be open for inspection. Such designations are subject to review by the State Attorney General. The University will, however, make available, upon request, the title and description of a sponsored research project and the amount of funding for such project.

Donor RecordsIn accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated Section 49-7-140, records and information that concern gifts to the University of Memphis or the University of Memphis Foundation, that include name, address, telephone number, social security number, driver license information, or any other personally identifiable information about the donor or members of the donor's family shall not be open for inspection.  The University or the Foundation will, however, make available, upon request, an annual report of gifts with the amount of the gift and a general description of its use.   

University Departments

This procedure shall not apply to University departments that request to inspect and/or receive copies of records for University business purposes or records of employees who report to that department. Notwithstanding, however, the custodian of the record may require the requesting department to certify the business purpose of the request.

Related Forms

Request Form to Inspect/Copy Public Records

Labor Cost Form

Record(s) Production Seven (7) Days Letter



What if I cannot determine whether or not a requested record is covered by the Tennessee Open Records Law?Contact the Office of Legal Counsel for advice.  

What if I have questions about the labor and/or programming cost? Contact the Office of Legal Counsel for assistance.

Revision Dates

 UM1616 Rev.2 -- updated August 26, 2009
UM1616 Rev.1 -- updated January 25, 2008
UM1616 - Issued: January 28, 2005 supercedes policy number 1:2A:15:01

Subject Areas:

AcademicFinanceGeneralHuman ResourcesInformation TechnologyStudent Affairs