This is an appeal from the granting by the District Court of Roosevelt County of a writ of mandamus.
Both petitioners-appellees (Petitioners) were students at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU). Mr. Sanchez was editor of and reporter for the ENMU Chase, the student newspaper. Mr. Dula was a photographer for it. Respondents-appellants (Respondents) are the Board of Regents of ENMU and the individual members of the board. Mr. Wheeler, one of the Respondents, is chairman of that hoard. Dr. Charles W. Meister, not a party, is President of ENMU.
Petitioners sought to inspect a certain list of proposed faculty salaries. The requests were refused by Respondents and this action followed. The writ of mandamus from the granting of which this appeal was taken directed Respondents to produce a “list of faculty contracts and salary provisions.” We take note of the amicus curiae brief filed on behalf of the New Mexico Press Association and the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.
On March 13, 1970, Respondents held a meeting in Roswell with Petitioners in attendance. The conduct of the meeting generally did not win the approval of Petitioners, but their specific complaint has to do with certain proceedings had by the board in relation to faculty salaries for the upcoming school term. Section 73-22-7, N.M.S.A.1953 (made applicable to the ENMU Regents by § 73-22-36, N.M.S.A. 1953) charged the board to “ * * * determine the compensation to be paid to the superintendent and teachers.”
After administrative activity by the staff which is not pertinent, Dr. Meister was prepared to present his recommendations to the board. To facilitate this evolution, a list of proposed faculty salaries for the 1970-71 term was prepared and presented to the board at the March .13 meeting. The list was broken down into various colleges and departments. The faculty members’ names were listed at the appropriate place with his or her proposed annual salary set opposite.
The list was not a document required by law to be prepared or preserved. It was prepared and used as a matter of administrative convenience, but preparation and use of some sort of list was a practical necessity, because it classified and named in excess of 160 individuals and set forth a proposed salary for each. The salaries listed aggregated about $1,500,000.
The board, by motion made, seconded and carried, approved the list. The offers were made by inserting the faculty member’s name and proposed salary into a form of offer covering the 1970-71 school year, *674affixing- Dr. Meister’s ' signature thereon, and transmitting the document to the faculty member. This transmittal also occurred on March 13.
These procedures resulted in no contract to which ENMU or the State was a party. A contract could only come into being upon acceptance of the offer by the individual faculty member. The offer might be accepted by the faculty member, or the offer might be refused, or a counter-offer transmitted. Negotiations might be had between the staff and the faculty member which might or might not result in a contract. All of these things normally occur between the time of the making of the offers and the June 30 deadline.
Proceedings at the March 13 meeting of the board would, in the normal course, be embodied in minutes and approved at the next board meeting. The minutes are not before us. The manner in which the material action of the board is treated in the minutes plays no part in our decision.
It is clear that Petitioners requested inspection of the list at the March 13 meeting, which was prior to the making of the offers, and made further requests on March 16 and 17, subsequent to the transmission of the offers but prior to the June 30 deadline when the offers might be in the process of acceptance, rejection or negotiation.
Section 71-6-2(C), N.M.S.A.1953 (Supp. 1969) reads as follows:
“ ‘Public records’ means all books, papers, maps, photographs or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by any agency in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved, or appropriate for preservation, by the agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations or other activities of the government, or because of the informational and historical value of data contained therein. Library or museum rpaterial of the state library, state institutións and state museums, extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference, and stocks of publications and processed documents are not included;”
Petitioners assert that the list was a public record which they were entitled to inspect by the provisions of §§ 71-5-1 and 71-5-2, N.M.S.A.1953. Section 71-5-1, supra, provides:
“Every citizen of this state has a right to inspect any public records of this state except records pertaining to physical or mental examinations and medical treatment of persons confined to any institutions and except as otherwise provided by law.”
Section 71-5-2, supra, provides:
“All officers having the custody of any state, county, school, city or town records in this state shall furnish proper and reasonable opportunities for the inspection and examination of all the records requested of their respective offices and reasonable facilities for making memoranda abstracts therefrom, during the usual business hours, to all persons having occasion to make examination of •them for any lawful purpose.”
The writ of mandamus granted by the trial court and ordered to be made permanent by a later “Decision” of the court, read in part as follows:
“Whereas, it has been made to appear by the verified complaint of Ernest T. Sanchez and Arthur M. Dula III that you, the respondents, have refused to allow the petitioners to inspect public records in your possession, namely, the list of faculty contracts and salary provisions, * *
The writ referred to “faculty contracts and salary provisions” and not to proposed contracts and salary provisions which were still in a negotiation stage. Obviously, completed contracts would be public records and available to inspection under the provisions of the New Mexico statutes.'
MacEwan v. Holm, 226 Or. 27, 359 P.2d 413 (1961) contains a scholarly review of *675-the entire' field of the public’s right of inspection of records. In MacEwan, supra, the defendant sought to inspect data relating to nuclear radiation sources collected by the Oregon State Board of Health. The Oregon Supreme Court held that the data involved were “public records” for purposes of inspection by the public. This case can be readily distinguished from the instant case inasmuch as scientific data obtained is the result of testing of at least one facet of the over-all purpose of the research. In MacEwan v. Holm, supra, this phase of the research had been completed, whereas in our case we only have an offered contract with no finality attached to it. In the MacEwan case, supra, the court said:
“Whether a record is to be regarded as a public record in a particular instance will depend upon the purposes of the law which will be served by so classifying it. And a record may be a public record for one purpose and not for another.”
We believe that no useful purpose would be served by disclosing preliminary contractual negotiations between the board and its professional and other employees.
We do not consider “thought processes,” that is, the offer of a contract, such a public record as would require public inspection. See Kottschade v. Lundberg, 280 Minn. 501, 160 N.W.2d 135 (1968), and Sorley v. Clerk, Mayor and Board of Trustees, 30 A.D.2d 822, 292 N.Y.S.2d 575 (1968).
United States District Judge Leon R. Yankwich of the Southern District of California, had this to say in an article published in 48 N.W.L.Rcv. 527, 530 (1953-54):
“Only documents which present ultimate actions should be accessible to the public. Those which are merely part of the preliminary steps by which the conelusion was reached should became ■.public, only in the 'discretion of the ■ partictilar agency * * . *. '
“If the record is one that is -not kept pursuant to law or as a part of the duty to be discharged by the officer, and is not required to be filed or recorded, it is not subject to public inspection. * * * [/]» the last analysis, only the memorials representing * * * ultimate action are, in a sense, public. * '* * ” (Emphasis added.)
In Linder v. Eckard, 152 N.W.2d 833 (Iowa, 1967), property owners requested certified copies of written appraisal reports from the city clerk and director of urban renewal. The request was refused. The Iowa Supreme Court held that:
“Under the particular circumstances existing here, we find that the appraisals in question- are not public records or writings and that appellants are not entitled to certified copies of them * * ‡ » ••
Giving the full context to the question, ■we must determine whether we should give legal character tc the demands of' the curious who cannot patiently await the final result of a salary contract negotiation. We would deny the right to inspect these records of the Board of Regents on the subject of salary contract negotiations before the task was completed. It would not seem fair that the general public should know the contents of an offer of salary to an individual conceivably prior to the receipt of the offer by the contemplated employee. As indicated in the MacEwan case, supra, we would not take away, the right of the Petitioners to know about salary matters, but would merely suspend or defer the privilege of inquiry until the Board of Regents reaches its final conclu*676sion, i. e., the culmination of the contract between the board and the individual.
This cause is hereby reversed.
It is so ordered.
COMPTON, C. J., and TACKETT, J., concur.