Original : English


Paris, March 1990

prepared by Peter Walne

General Information Programme and UNISIST

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

This document is the photographic reproduction of the author's text

Recommended catalogue entry:

Walne, Peter

Selected guidelines for the management of records and archives : A RAMP reader / prepared by Peter Walne /for the/ General Information Programme and UNISIST. - Paris : Unesco, 1990. - 208 p. ; 30 cm. (PGI-90/WS/6)

I - Title

II - Unesco. General Information Programme and UNISIST

III - Records and Archives Management Programme (RAMP)

© UNESCO, 1990



In order to assist in meeting the needs of Member States, particularly developing countries, in the specialized areas of Archives Administration and Records Management, the Division of the General Information Programme has developed a long-term Records and Archives Management Programme - RAMP.

The basic elements of RAMP reflect and contribute to the overall themes of the General Information Programme. RAMP thus includes projects, studies and other activities intented to :

- develop standards, rules, methods and other normative tools for the processing and transfer of specialized information and the creation of compatible information systems ;

- enable developing countries to set up their own data bases and to have access to those now in existence throughout the world, so as to increase the exchange and flow of information through the application of modern technologies ;

- promote the development of specialized regional information networks ;

- contribute to the harmonious development of compatible international information services and systems ;

- set up national information systems and improve the various components of these systems ;

- formulate development policies and plans in this field ;

- train information specialists and users and develop the national and regional potential for education and training in the information sciences, library science and archives administration.

During the third RAMP consultation (Helsinki, 13, 15 and 20 September 1986), the participants expressed the hope that ways and means could be found of facilitating the access of archivists of all levels to the mine of information, knowledge and know-how contained in the studies and guidelines of the RAMP series which cover all aspects of archives. These studies and guidelines examine the challenges as well as the problems relating to archival theory and practice, training, and the use of informatics and the new media in the exercise of the profession.

Therefore it seemed useful to collect the main guidelines within a single textbook : RAMP Reader, in the hope of providing all those interested : teachers, young archivists, isolated archivists particularly in developing countries, with a handy reference tool in which they will find grouped together the varied ideas and experience of leading archivistds from all over the world. For senior archivists, we hope the Reader will offer another opportunity for the exchange of experience.

Comments and suggestions regarding the study are welcomed, and should be addressed to the Division of the General Information Programme, UNESCO, 7 place de Fontenoy, F-75700 Paris. Other studies prepared under the RAMP programme may also be obtained at the same address.

Among the numerous specialized international intergovernmental organizations, only Unesco has been given primary responsibility for promoting the development of archives. During its first two decades most of its projects involving archives were of limited duration and usually in direct response to specific requests from Member States. In 1970, with the active support of the International Council on Archives (ICA), Unesco began to develop guidelines for a policy on archives development, but a series of internal reorganizations and financial problems prevented implementation of many of the proposed projects. It was not until 1979, following the establishment of the Division of the General Information Programme (PGI), which combined many of the functions and activities of an earlier unit dealing with documentation, libraries and archives with those of the UNISIST programme concerned with scientific and technological information, that Unesco was able to address adequately the problems of archival development.

The Unesco General Conference had earlier directed PGI to give special attention "to promoting the development of archives services", not only as "a factor in the preservation and presentation of the cultural heritage and of national identity" but "particularly as a tool for administrative efficiency". PGI was thus given clear responsibility not only for promoting archival development, but also for emphasizing the development of records management systems and services. As the Programme Specialist of PGI responsible for archives at that time, it was my pleasure and privilege to work closely with ICA in implementing these instructions from the General Conference. The result of our joint efforts was the Records and Archives Administration Programme (RAMP) which has now completed a decade of service to Member States.

As originally conceived, RAMP had two overall objectives:

- to promote and assist in the creation of a full awareness and understanding of the value and uses of records and archives as basic information resources, particularly in relation to planning and development and in conjunction with other information resources; and

- to assist Member States, upon request, in the organization and development of the records management and archival systems and services necessary for full and effective utilization of these basic information resources.

In achieving these specific objectives, it was also necessary that RAMP reflect, in its projects and activities, the overall mission of PGI, which at that time consisted of five interrelated themes:

1) Promotion of the formulation and information policies and plans (national, regional and international).

2) Promotion and dissemination of methods, norms and standards for information handling.

3) Contribution to the development of information infrastructures.

4) Contribution to the development of specialized information systems in the fields of education, culture and communication, and the natural and social sciences.

5) Promotion of the training and education of specialists in and users of information.

The present publication has its origins in the efforts of RAMP to contribute to the second of these themes. As indicated in the Working Document for the Expert Consultation held in Paris in 1979, to review and evaluate critically the draft RAMP programme, this component of the programme would be based upon studies and would take the form of a series of "guidelines, norms, standards and recommended methods, professional and technical (.. referred to collectively as "guidelines"), that would be "prepared by specialists, circulated for comment, [and] revised as necessary...to reflect advances in technology and the results of research in records management and archival policies and practices".

The guidelines were to be based upon existing and especially commissioned studies; they were eventually to cover all basic archival and records management functions and activities, and were intended to be of value to both developed and developing countries. Priorities within both the overall PGI and the RAMP programme, and especially the availability of specialists to undertake studies at a particular time, largely account for the particular studies that were undertaken and the sequence of their completion. Additional Expert Consultations, held in West Berlin in 1982 and in Helsinki in 1986, reviewed the implementation of the RAMP programme to those dates and resulted in necessary modifications to enable the programme to respond better to changing needs and interests. The initial priority given to archival appraisal of various media and the emphasis upon preservation constitute the two major themes in this compilation of guidelines to those studies published between 1981 and 1986. A number of the guidelines have been tested, particularly by developing countries, and, with minor modifications to accommodate unique national circumstances, have demonstrated their value in establishing or improving systems and services. It is intended that this compilation will facilitate even more widespread use.


Washington, DC

October 1989

In his to this volume Dr Frank Evans has sketched and explained the genesis and development of Unesco's Records and Archives Management Programme, now better and familiarly known with the archival community world-wide by its acronym RAMP.

The programme has been characterized as both a conceptual framework and an operating programme focussing attention upon basic archival and records management problems and contributing to their solution.

The series of RAMP studies published in steadily increasing numbers since 1981 serves as clear evidence of the programme's contribution to solving many problems, which hold the attention of archivists and records managers everywhere.

This compilation of Guidelines taken from those RAMP studies which have separate Guidelines is intended to make more easily and readily available the distillation of professional theories and practices which they contain and as a result make the Studies themselves more widely known and used.

Guidelines to some Studies are variously called by that name or entitled Conclusions or Recommendations. Under whatever name they appear, they are reproduced here.

To set Guidelines in context, chronological or methodological, Studies have Introductions which also serve to summarise their purpose and scope. With such editing as seemed appropriate to a work such as this, the Introductions are presented in their authors' own words.

Since Studies very in length, so consequently do Introductions and Guidelines. There is no overall uniformity in Studies of sectional and paragraph numeration, each has its own self contained numeration. In both Introductions and Guidelines, there are internal references to the main text of the Study concerned and these have been reproduced here to lead users to the relevant part of the Study. Introductions may also have self contained sets of footnotes and the footnote references in the text are reproduced but not the footnotes themselves.

As readers will see, there are Guidelines relating to the records and archives of UN agencies and other international organizations. Such Studies from which Guidelines are excerpted, whilst primarily addressed to this audience are of general applicability and useful at national and other levels. The principles and practices enunciated are such as to be useful to records and archive services on whatever scale.

Guidelines are presented in the chronological order of their issuance, which reflects the development and progress of RAMP as an operating system and the TABLE OF CONTENTS serves as a topical index.

The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of Unesco concerning the legal status of any country or territory, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitations of its frontiers or boundaries.

The editor is responsible for the choice and presentation of the texts contained in this book. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily those of Unesco and do not commit the Organization.

7, Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris, France. Copies of the Studies from which these Guidelines are excerpted and a list of other RAMP Studies and related publications may also be obtained from the same address.

7 December 1989

Peter Walne

Felix Hull


Among the various techniques adopted for reducing the bulk of certain classes of records is 'sampling', a method which can vary from a purely subjective choice of examples through a variety of procedures to an exact statistical process, providing an ideal objective answer for the student involved in the quantitative analysis of data. Insofar as this is a special procedure appropriate only in special circumstances and requiring careful assessment of method to be employed, size of sample required and precise evaluation for the purposes of research, it has been considered desirable to treat it as the subject for a special study. This study, therefore, is directed to one particular aspect only of records disposal and to one technique of appraisal, which should only be applied when circumstances indicate that a particular need is present.

Nevertheless, there is a certain misunderstanding prevalent regarding sampling. Terminology has tended, in the past, to be less than precise and the whole question of the use of sampling has given rise to much uncertainty and some misgivings among archivists. Here is a process which by definition leads to the destruction of a high proportion of the total documentation involved: can we be sure that the right material is preserved? Is the proper statistical sample required for accurate analysis by computer necessarily what the archivist looks for as part of his records, or indeed, what the historian or sociologist really needs? To what extent, if selection is inevitable, must purely objective criteria dominate; do we require the ordinary or the extraordinary in our archival sample? it is because of these many uncertainties; of questions of principle which disturb those concerned with sampling as it affects archives: and the desire for some assessment of procedures and for suggestions for suitable basic guidelines, that this study has been prepared for UNESCO in co-operation with the International Council on Archives. It approaches the subject in two ways:

(a) by consideration of theoretical principles and methods of sampling; and

(b) by an examination of the experience of a number of national and other repositories where sampling has been practiced. On the basis of these assessments an attempt has been made to draw up some essential principles for the application of different methods, even if it has not proved wholly possible to state categorically what should or should not be done. In this study, too, it has not been overlooked that many repositories are increasingly concerned with non-conventional archives and that pictures (still and motion) sound archives and machine-readable records all play a part in the contemporary scene. Although still more difficult to assess within the terms of this study, these newer forms of records have not been ignored.


6.1 In his book Archives Administration, published in 1977, Michael Cook briefly examined sampling as a technique as part of his chapter on appraisal. Having identified three types - random, selective and representative (1) - he completed his examination by claiming that there is 'no such thing as a statistical sample of general utility' and then stated that in any event, sampling was inadvisable without some specialist advice (2). After considering the conflicting evidence and views of archivists in Europe and America one comes reluctantly to much the same conclusion and feels sympathy with one correspondent who wrote that 'the first thing about archival sampling ... is that one should only do it if one really has to.'

6.2 Nevertheless the purpose of this study has been to try to identify the cases when sampling is an appropriate exercise and under what terms it can properly be carried out and it is, therefore, desirable to attempt some statement of general principles and to offer guidelines for those faced by sampling problems. In this respect, it is necessary to return to the basic distinction between appraisal and sampling and to attempt to define the terms in use. Appraisal, therefore, is the fundamental selection of documentation leading to preservation or to destruction, under whatever criteria are considered valid at the time the choice is made. Every archive class, at least in theory, has passed through an appraisal process, for a decision, conscious or unconscious, has been taken in respect of its retention. In contrast to this process, sampling can only occur in those cases, where despite the appraisal decision, some uncertainty remains because of the positive but limited informational content of the records and also because of their bulk.

For good or ill the archivist is influenced by costs, for storage, maintenance and care are expensive commodities and potential, perhaps unknown, research values (that possibility of usage for secondary purposes), have to be set against the costs of retaining the records in their original state.

6.3 It seems abundantly clear that sampling is a technique which, in whatever form, is subject to some criticism and uncertainty by custodian and searcher alike and that the archivist will be well advised to adopt sampling methods as infrequently as possible and only then after the most careful consideration of the methodology to be used and, perhaps - for the final decision may well depend upon circumstances beyond the archivist's control - with the advice of an expert in the field of study involved, and, or, in statistical method.

6.4 Appraisal, therefore, may determine the fate of classes, SERIES or even unit pieces; sampling will only apply when some further reduction in bulk is deemed necessary over and above that first decision, or if, for some reason it is decided to keep an example of a type of record otherwise destroyed.

6.5 A second consideration will relate to those types of record where such a decision may be appropriate. Bulk has already been mentioned and, except for the 'example', there are few occasions when the factor of bulk coupled with that of continuing growth will not

2 provide the key element in the final decision making. Yet not all types of record are equally suitable for sampling and it has been necessary to stress repeatedly, that a series of records which are suitable for this technique, will be homogeneous. If the documentation is wholly individual in content and if it provides significant evidential detail, then it is improbable that sampling can apply. One manual of advice which refers to statistical sampling states that it can only be 'applied to documents which contain mathematically quantifiable information in standard form and in sufficient depth, either because they cover a long period of time, or because they are complete for the particular subject with which they deal', (3) a ruling which goes some way towards explaining why statistical methods are seldom wholly applicable to non-conventional archives.

6.6 Opposed to the somewhat cautious and qualified approach of European archivists and their tardy acceptance of fully random statistical methods, is the enthusiasm evinced by the American paper on Statistical Sampling of Archives' (4) which argues forcibly that since 'the record' is never complete we should 'be able to sample without undue anguish about the integrity of the records'.

Certainly, as suggested earlier, the trans-Atlantic attitude is much less overburdened with fears that the 'significant' item will be lost and, although NARS still employs both selective (purposive) and systematic sampling on occasions, the movement of thought in the case of large homogeneous series of files and case papers is very much in line with that proclaimed in Canada.

6.7 A related matter which must be briefly mentioned is the size of the sample if, in fact, one is to be taken, though here again, it is difficult to find completely common ground. Eleanor McKay considered that in order to obtain a satisfactory and authoritative sample of Congressional papers a twenty per cent sample was required (5). McReynolds argues from the statistical point of view that 'the greater the reduction the imprecision of the resulting sample' and he, like Cook, recommends the seeking of advice. He also suggests that if a record group has a number of series of varying significance, the archivist can create a stratified sample of the whole record group'. (6) This is, in fact, essentially what is being attempted in Kent with the sampling of Social Services records, where the size of the sample taken from various series of records is dependent upon the relative size, importance or nature of the individual series. This concept suggests that the size of sample will vary according to circumstances, though it will remain true that the larger the sample the more truly representative it is likely to be. Once again the overriding factor is likely to be cost, for if a very large sample is to be retained may it still not be preferable and possible to retain the whole, which after all is the ideal solution?

6.8 Guidelines

We can conclude so far:

(1) Sampling should only take place (a) when there is some doubt about the validity of retaining the whole class or series of conventional (paper or textual) records, but when automatic destruction is regarded as too drastic a course of action, or (b) when it is felt proper to retain some examples from an otherwise destructible category of records.

(2) Where the material itself is appropriate for this kind of technique, i.e. where classes or series of files are homogeneous ('if the individual files contain similare records in each file, the variability will be small and the statistical significance or precision of the sample will be high') (7). Heterogeneous or highly variable records will produce a serious bias and should not be sampled for that reason unless there is a sub-series within the main series which has special characteristics indicating that retention of the sub-series is desirable.

(3) In most instances these criteria indicate that sampling is not applicable for the selection of cartographic, audio-visual or machine-readable records.

(4) While the size of sample will vary according to the nature of the documentation and the circumstances under which decisions have been made, a larger sample will provide a more satisfactory coverage of the whole and will therefore be more likely to provide researchers with their special requirements.

(5) In all cases the methodology used and the reasons which led to sampling must be indicated in any finding aid which is prepared.

6.9 It now becomes necessary to consider the various types of sampling in greater detail and to attempt to define areas of usage and significant variations in value in terms of methodology. In this section, therefote, it is most important that exact terminology should be adopted if at all possible. This is particularly so with words such as 'random' and 'statistical', for it is clearly apparent that not only has there been much confusion in the past, but that both these terms are still being used to describe significantly different processes. Although 'random' is still regarded as suitable as a description of various patterns of systematic sampling, its use here, so far as possible, will be limited to describe the precise statistical process described on pp. 24-S. The terminology, therefore, will be that adopted in Chapter 2 but, wherever applicable, known variants will also be given in the heading to any particular method.

6.10 (a) The Example

Although it would appear that examples are taken fairly widely in appropriate circumstances, it must be stressed that within the terms of definition 'an example' cannot be regarded as a true sample. It neither illustrates the qualities of the whole mass, nor does it provide a representative experience of the series. On the other hand, it does indicate that a certain class or series existed or even that a particular type of individual document was once in use.

From time to time circumstances may arise when it seems desirable to retain an example of what would otherwise be destroyed.

6.11 Guidelines

This is a valid appraisal decision, but

(6) Any description must indicate the provenance of the example and why the residue was destroyed.

(7) The significance of the example rests in its nature as an example and in nothing else; it has virtually no research potential except as an indicator of what was formerly in existence, even though it may have value as a precedent for the agency concerned.

6.12 (b) Purposive Sampling (Qualitative or Selective Sampling)

The most dramatic example of this kind of sampling and the one which led to considerable dispute was the French attempt some years ago at producing 'models'. This was attacked in 1953 by R H Bautier (8) and was further discussed in 1967 by Pierre Boisard in La Gazette des Archives. (9) As a method it is superficially very tempting to the archivist, who considers that a class or series must contain material of special or particular merit in respect of individual topics, areas or personalities. As a method it attempts to answer the criticism that sampling removes the exceptional and thus loses what is of special significance. In considering this argument, one author has referred to this form of sampling being carried out under 'criteria of significance', but has then pointed out that such criteria are atypical simply because they are of special significance and that 'the resulting sample does not, in any way, reflect the whole group of records'. (10) While he does, somewhat grudgingly, admit that selective sampling 'within series or record groups is a valid technique for archivists in some circumstances', it is also plain that this system is not very far from the taking of examples. It is nevertheless a method which has been used by many archivists and, almost as often, it has given rise to criticism because of its inevitable built-in bias and its unsuitability for statistical purposes. It must be admitted, however, that so long as doubts remain about the wholly satisfactory nature of systematic or true random sampling, there will be a tendency to continue to use this method. It is of interest to note that when the sampling of the papers of Congressmen in Wisconsin was attempted, the person involved still considered it desirable to take a purposive sample from the eighty per cent residue in case the statistical sample did not prove to cover all contingencies. (11) Indeed, if purposive sampling is to be accepted at all, it is probably most appropriate in this kind of context where, after the taking of a statistically acceptable sample, it is used as a secondary system - a kind of safety-net. In other words, that once a statistical sample has been taken, it is permissible to extract from the residue, other files or papers on a qualitative basis.

6.13 Guidelines

In view of the above facts and of the continued use of this method, even if there remain many reservations, it is well to establish certain basic rules for its adoption and usage:

(8) Purposive sampling, because of its 'exception' character and built-in bias, is the less appropriate the more homogeneous the original series of records.

(9) No purposive sample should be taken in the place of a statistically valid sample - it may be a supplementary process, but is not really acceptable as the primary method to be employed.

(10) Criteria of selection must either be very specific (e g. the case files of conscientious objectors referred to on pp.20-1) or must be as comprehensive as they can reasonably be made. Once again the problem arises that the attempt to be comprehensive may only be achieved by the retention of the whole series.

(11) A very clear description of any criteria must preface any finding aid, so that the user is made fully aware of what was done, why it was done, how it was done and where he can find the other element of the sample which can be used for quantitative analysis.

6.14 (c) Systematic Sampling (Representative, Quantitative or Statistical other than "random', Time-Series or Chronological, Numerical)

There is no doubt that of all sampling methods, systematic sampling is the method with the greatest number of devotees at the present time. The preference for this method is usually expressed in terms of the simplicity with which it can be carried out. Nevertheless, there has been some criticism of methods in the past, and indeed, systematic sampling covers such a very wide spectrum of techniques, varying from ones bordering on purposive methods to systems designed to provide a near 'random' sample that it is difficult to define in any one simple manner. It is worthy of note, however, that whereas European archivists still tend to regard systematic methods as the most suitable for general purposes, the pressure in North America is towards the greater use of truly random methodology. Each of the varieties of systematic sampling must be briefly considered and for each some rules of action must be established.

6.15 Only one remove from purposive sampling and still far from being what one usually regards as a systematic sample is the representative, topographical sample. This occurs when, faced with a large number of similar groups (fords) within the archives of an agency, each based on a particular topographical area or regional office, it is decided to retain whole archive groups for a selected number of offices. It is immediately clear that this is not true sampling, rather it is more closely associated with basic appraisal in that it is not series which are being reduced in size but rather a determination to retain some units of archives as opposed to others. Moreover, there is no homogeneity within the records chosen for retention - the group may contain many disparate classes - but each group will approximate to its fellows in the character of the records created and those selected for retention will therefore present a representative sample of the records of the central agency as they existed at the local level. This approach has been strongly criticised in France as creating a false sense of uniformity and for damaging the resources of local history within those areas where destruction took place. There is a sense, of course, in which this process is of the kind of arbitrary selection which the ravages of time have created and, indeed, such selected groups of records are only valid for research within the parameters of their own topographical area and cannot be cited as authoritative evidence for what took place elsewhere in areas for which the records have been destroyed. Finally, this is a method which underlines the archivist's dilemma very forcibly - the archives of the unit, office or area can only be regarded as marginally worth preservation; can the cost of keeping all such records and, therefore, all such units be justified? If it cannot, then possibly a topographical sample is to be considered as a comprehensive example of what once existed and took place in one area only.

6.16 Guidelines:

It should be understood therefore:

(12) That topographical samples are only acceptable where a large central agency has many local offices and where the central agency's records are already retained in an adequate form.

(13) The records of chosen units within the system should be retained in their entirety as group - this is a very special kind of example and its validity rests in the completeness of the archive groups of which it is composed.

6.17 The second form of systematic sampling frequently used is the retention of files based on letters of the alphabet. Alphabetical sampling is regarded as having a certain statistical justification and, in Canada, is combined with a still more 'random' numerical selection. The weakness of this system lies in the national and local variability of letter usage, so that although the choice of initial letter may appear representative of the whole series, sub-categories of individuals may be entirely missed. For example the use of this method in the German Federal Republic has concentrated on the letter H. but while this is satisfactory for names of Germanic origin, it omits those of Romance origin; and a similar use in the United Kingdom would result in the exclusion from the sample of certain immigrant groups in the population. Nevertheless with large series found in alphabetical order it is a form of sampling very easy to put into practice.

6 .18 Guidelines

It may be said to be appropriate when:

(14) There is a large homogeneous series of personal files arranged alphabetically, so that the sample will be of a large enough size to provide reasonably accurate information (e.g. at Koln the use of the initial letter H provides an 8.5 per cent sample);

(15) Where an analysis has been carried out to establish which initial letter will be satisfactory according to the purpose of the exercise as a whole and will also effectively represent the records in question (e.g. it is useless to select a letter of very infrequent usage like Q or Z; equally to adopt M in Scotland might lead to an undesirably high percentage sample).

6.19 A more nearly 'random' and statistically sound sample is achieved by numerical selection. Numerical or Serial sampling can be simple, i.e. every tenth or twentieth box, file, etc., according to the format of the records; or it can be based on far more complex criteria, e.g. the Social Insurance Number selection in Canada, where files with terminal digit 5 alone are selected. (12) It must be indicated that the 'tenth box' method can lead to some problems if the make-up of the records results in files which overlap the box arrangement. It is said that this method used in the Public Record Office for the records of the Registrar General of Shipping has resulted in a sample, which, while it provides a statistical base, is not particularly suitable for other research purposes. (13) Nevertheless numerical sampling is one of the three most widely accepted methods which, while not wholly random in the statistician's sense, can provide an acceptable base for most purposes. One of the difficulties illustrated in the evidence submitted for this study rests once more in the loose use of terminology and one cannot always be certain when 'random' methods are mentioned whether that is really so or whether some form of numerical selection is not being practiced. It is essential, however, that if the intention is to produce a sample which is valid for statistical purposes, then bias must be avoided and not all records will be equally suitable for this kind of sampling.

6.20 Guidelines

It can, therefore, be stated:

(16) 'A serial sample may be acceptable for statistical study if the existing order of the whole body of the records is random (e.g. a series of returns filed in no systematic order)'. (14)

(17) 'A serial sample is the only practicable method of sampling if the individual items cannot be separated and the assemblage has to be taken as the unit'. (14)

(18) This method should not be used if there is an undoubted alphabetical, topographical or chronological arrangement to the records.

(19) The degree of acceptability depends upon every unit in the series having its unique individual number, a vital element if statistics are to be meaningful. {1 (15)

(20) The numerical series to be adopted must be established in advance and must be adhered to rigidly.

6.21 Chronological or Time - Series samples

This form of systematic sampling, which finds much favour, depends upon the chronological arrangement of the papers to be sampled and, in most cases, results in the survival of records for every fifth or tenth year, often using census years because of their association with other demographic material. The weakness of this form of sampling rests primarily in the fluctuations of human society and that the years thus selected may avoid vital changes of a political or economic or legislative character. This is a cause for concern and has made searchers suspicious of a method which tends to concentrate on the short term facts rather than the long term trends. It has been this consideration which has led in France to the somewhat complex pattern of sampling adopted for the records of Sante-Travail, where the papers for one year in thirteen are retained and those for one month, in rotation, kept for the intervening years. This system is further refined, however, by permitting the year for which there is a total retention to be determined not by an arbitrary series, but by the significance of events of that year. In the end, therefore, one is met in essence with a statistical sample based on the monthly series with its built-in variable in order to obtain a representative cover over a period of years, and then superimposed on that, what is in effect a purposive sample dependent upon 'criteria of significance'. This complication must be recognized in any statistical work carried out, for while some valid comparisons are possible with the monthly series, the chosen years will not be similarly comparable.

6.22 Guidelines

For a satisfactory time-series sample therefore:

(21) the records must be homogeneous and arranged chronogically;

(22) the time series should be selected irrespective of political or other changes happening in between the retention years and this time-series should be adhered to at all times if the result is to provide statistical information;

(23) the closer together the selected years are, the more likely it will be that sudden aberrations in society will be picked up, but since it is only a sample one cannot and should not regard special circumstances as reasons for special variation; if there is cause for doubt, then it may be that a selective (purposive) sample should be taken in addition to and after the chronological sample.

6.23 It must be stressed again that it is the relative ease with which systematic samples can be taken which is their principal attraction. In the R.A.D. paper from the Public Record Office, quoted above, the comment is made that 'in practice it may be too expensive or time consuming to take 'a random sample, and that therefore 'the alternative of a "serial" or "systematic" sample' may have to be adopted. This is now very much the preferred method in European repositories, but it is gradually giving way to the true random sample in the United States and Canada.

6.24 (d) Random Sampling

The essential problem in this technique is to establish the fully random nature of the sample; to apply a statistically sound method of selection with no element of bias; and to be satisfied that the needs of traditional research are as adequately covered as those of quantitative analysis. In the view of the Canadian Public Archives these criteria are all met and this is also the opinion of R M McReynolds of the National Archives and Records Service of the U.S.A. On this side of the Atlantic, there are still doubts and the much slower adoption of computer techniques in archives and lack of resources has limited the use of random methods. One comment received reads that 'calculations based on the (random) sample will not provide historical accuracy in the sense of tying the creating authority's operations to particular cases, but they should give an accurate overall view of the effect of policies or the extent of problems'. (16) Material to be processed in this way must be essentially homogeneous, i.e. with a very low variability of content, and should 'contain mathematically quantifiable information in standard form or in sufficient depth, either because they cover a long period of time, or because they are complete for the particular subject with which they deal'. (17)

6.25 Guidelines

The choice and practice of this methodology depends upon:

(24) a suitable series of homogeneous records;

(25) the use of a random number table (18) or, possibly, of a highly sophisticated numerical series; (19)

(26) the numerical individuality of all the pieces (units) in the file series so that bias is eliminated;

(27) the careful determination of an appropriate size for the sample, bearing in mind that 'the greater the reduction the greater the imprecision of the resulting sample'. (20) It should likewise be remembered that 'to double the accuracy of a sample it is necessary to quadruple its size; (21)

(28) that in this area in particular, the advice of a statistician and expert in historical quantitative research can be invaluable and can prevent serious error.

6.26 The random sample is taken by a precise scientific process, all other samples only approximate to a greater or lesser degree to that objective ideal and since they are easier to adopt, and are in some ways more natural in methodology to traditional archival thinking, they will tend to be used, especially where the technology associated with true random sampling is still difficult to acquire and the skills of the persons who must carry out the work limited. Nevertheless, as computer technology expands and becomes less expensive, it would appear that the random sample based on the random number table, or perhaps on some essentially random system like the Canadian S.I.N. numerals, will become increasingly the standard adopted for long homogeneous series of paper files. It will never be appropriate for records with a high variable factor, but it is questionable whether sampling of any kind should be advised in those circumstances.

6.27 This chapter has not considered at length the question of non-traditional archives, but it may be recalled that the essential argument of Chapter 4 was that, in most instances, sampling was not a technique suitable for material which must be selected on a unit basis. There were a few exceptions, depending upon the provenance of the material and in such cases it was almost invariable that time-series or chronological samples were taken, unless indeed the basic record had been microfilmed and a purposive sample appeared more appropriate. In all these instances the rules which would apply are those which have already been set out in the appropriate section of this chapter. There seems to be no room for quantitative, statistical samples in these areas, though of course the argument is confused by the availability of almost unlimited samples for research purposes, where the records themselves form a data base available for investigation.

6.28 In conclusion, therefore, sampling is a methodology forced on archivists by the sheer bulk of documentation and the cost of preservation. It should not be adopted unless there is no alternative solution, for it can seldom be wholly satisfactory. Random statistical sampling is appropriate for homogeneous series of paper files and can form a satisfactory base for quantitative research and, dependent upon that homogeneity, a reasonable base for traditional research also. The archivist, however, faced with costs, staff problems and many classes which are somewhat more variable than should ideally be the case, will often tend to adopt simpler methods, which can still be statistically based even though less completely satisfactory than random sampling and which provide more scope for the retention of the exceptional as well as the normal. In all cases, however, any sample which is intended to be statistically valid must be taken first and any other type of selection made subsequently. Full notes must always be retained of every action taken and of the various elements of the sample if more than one has been taken. The records themselves, too, must be stored in such a way that the distinction between what is acceptable for quantitative analysis and what is not, is clearly apparent.

6.29 In one sense, sampling is the worst of all worlds, but there is a growing opinion which sees in random sampling a set of criteria acceptable for all purposes provided the basic record is suitable for that kind of technology. Microphotography and the preparation of data bases must help to overcome the dilemma presented by archival sampling, but even apart from cost, the application of modern techniques depends upon the availability of such technology and it will be many years before the less sophisticated methods are rejected entirely. Unfortunately sampling wil always leave the archivist and perhaps the scholar in a state of uncertainty, even though the methods used may be totally acceptable. In all cases, the residue must be destroyed and something may be lost thereby. Accepting that irreducible factor, forms of sampling will continue so long as very bulky series of essentially similar records have to be appraised and cost of storage prevents the retention of the whole.

Michael Cook


1.1 The aim of these Guidelines is to help forward the development of education and training in the professional fields of records management and archives administration. Records Management is defined as "that area of general administrative management concerned with achieving economy and efficiency in the creation, maintenance and use, and the disposal of records". It aims at achieving an accurate and complete documentation of the policies and transactions of an organization, and at controlling, refining and simplifying records and record systems, and at the judicious preservation and disposal of records. Records are "recorded information, regardless of form or medium, created, received or maintained by an agency, institution, organization or individual in pursuance of its legal obligations or in the transaction of business". Archives Administration (apart from being the theoretical and practical study of policies, procedures and problems relating to archival functions) is "the direction and management of archives"; and archives, in turn, are "non-current records permanently preserved, with or without selection, by those responsible for their creations or by their successors in function for their own use or by an appropriate archival agency because of their archival value." Archival value refers to the value a record may have in the long term, as a source of information off use in research, or in documenting the activities of the originating institution over time.

1.2 The two fields of records management and archives administration are closely interwoven. In some countries records managers have tended to organise themselves as a profession quite separate from that of archivists, while in others no such split is apparent. The assumption here is that the normal and desirable situation is one where both kinds of work are done efficiently, and where the professionals who do them communicate closely. In what follows, the term 'archivist' is sometimes used to cover the activities of both records managers and archivists, but it is not intended to suggest that these groups are identical or that one should be subordinate to the other. There is a strong case for planning a common basic professional training for both records managers and archivists, and for career structures in these fields to be closely related.

1.3 There is a difference between education and training, a difference which is important when various levels of professional activity are dealt with. Both are important: training covers instruction in the actual processes which are carried out in an archives service, and seeks to ensure that these processes are efficient, aptly designed and effective for their purpose. Education is something more fundamental and wide-ranging. In the long term, probably the most important job done by archivists, for example, is the selection of records for preservation or destruction. In carrying out this process of selection, archivists are doubtless ready to be advised on the current administrative or legal value inhering in the records; but when it comes to identifying possible long-term values, they must draw on their own resources of experience, perception, and general culture: these things may be summed up as education. These Guidelines attempt to deal with both, but it is inevitable that more space is allocated to technical knowledge and processes. The reader is asked to bear in mind that training programmes should always be planned in the context of general educational development of the student.

1.4 These Guidelines must deal with training for the overall needs of the profession. They must include provision for entry to the principal career level for both archivists and records managers; for senior or managerial staff in both fields; and with paraprofessionals. They do not seek to deal, except incidentally, with the question of technical training for conservationists or other specialist staff such as reprographers.

1.5 The aim is to suggest a basic training programme providing the common ground work for all the workers involved directly in the professional management of archives and records. Apart from important differences of level and approach, there is a single body of basic training appropriate to the whole field. The desire to encourage harmonization has raised the question as to whether there should be some basic training for all workers in the information field. This question is not directly tackled here but it has not been possible to avoid a good deal of reflection on it. The

Guidelines (sections VI and VII) are arranged as far as possible on a modular system, so that they can be adapted for those who do not need the whole of the basic course.

1.6 A set of general Guidelines such as these have a limited use. It is not likely that they will be suitable for adoption by any one particular training institution as they stand. They must be interpreted in the light of the local situation. This warning is more necessary in the case of archive and records administration than with librarianship and documentation. The character of archives and the systems which generate them are so deeply rooted in the cultural and administrative traditions of individual countries, that it is difficult to generalize accurately about them across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Also, the records and archives themselves (the accumulated material held by a records and archives service) is by definition unique, this uniqueness not being affected by the existence within the archive of a quantity of published or duplicated material or by the ability to make a large number of copies with modern equipment. Archives will always remain unique, and this makes very difficult any attempt to systematize all aspects of their administration in a worldwide archives science. All archives and records services, however, do share the characteristic that they should be user-orientated.

1.7 Subject to this proviso, the suggestions made here are intended both to raise professional standards and to systematise those standards as between nations. Particular training institutes will have to consider how far their application can usefully be made.

Consequently there has been an attempt to avoid excessive specificity in the Guidelines and excessive detail in the curricular modules. In the general field of information studies it is particularly necessary to avoid rigidity. It should be possible to accept the principles of an international standard without slavish obedience to a code.

1.8 In practice, the Guidelines must be aimed primarily at the training needs of the Third World. It is not suggested that there should be a different standard of professional excellence for developing countries. The investment of scarce funds in this branch of the information infrastructure is a serious matter in a developing country, and the archives and records management services there may well have to justify themselves by results much more rigorously than their parallels in a developed country. The archivists of the more advanced countries have in this way much to learn from the experience of their colleagues in the developing countries. This is particularly so where practical records management or the harmonisation of information courses is concerned. In fact training in most developed countries is far from being fully developed, and there is an urgent need for a general standard for basic professional training which will highlight areas where there is need for adaptation or for the revision of traditional attitudes.

1.9 It is often remarked that archivists and records managers are faced with pressures which pull in opposite directions. One aspect of this contrary pull is the tension between the archivist as administrator and the archivist as researcher. At a deeper level, these tensions counterbalance themselves and become a unity: the records manager, serving the information needs of a current administrative body, is setting up a structure for the regular appraisal and disposal of its records, can easily see himself as working towards THE same ends as his colleague the archivist in a historical collection, or working for the conservation and - exploitation of the historic archival treasures of the realm. In many parts of the world the historical origins of archival training are in the second sector, and records management has come as a late, and not always welcome, intruder. In other, very influential, parts of the world, the situation is almost the reverse of this. It is the view of the present work not only that there is the unity lying at the root of all archives and records management which was referred to above, but that this unity ought to be expressed in the training of recruits to the profession. Therefore, although there will, in the long run, be a need for specialists in the advanced practice of some aspects of the profession's workload, it is assumed that as far as basic initial training goes, the best way is to provide a basic course which all should complete. This is a point not yet agreed upon in the developed countries, or not explicitly and universally. In the developing world the point is accepted pragmatically, in the sense that any training that is offered at the right time has been taken up. It is a point of some importance for professional development, and is important, too, where the harmonisation of archival training and other information studies is concerned. The present Guidelines argue for it, and are a step towards the formal advocacy of the principle in the centres of professional discussion.

1.10 The bibliography is intended to give references to additional information or discussion which may help in adapting these general outlines to particular situations. Beyond this it is to be hoped that individual lecturers and teachers of archives science and its branches will get used to drawing up course notes and outlines, comparing these to avoid overlap within the institution, and making them available for comparison in professional circles. This could be done through the International Clearing-house for Instructional Materials related to librarianship, documentation and archival work, situated at the University of Maryland (USA), and publicised through the FID Newsletter on Education and Training Programmes for Specialised Information Personnel.


8.1 General:

The introductory section of these Guidelines places them within the general context of international development in archives work; in particular, the RAMP programme and the movements towards harmonisation of archives, library and information training. Their aim is to forward the training of entrants to both archives administration and records management, linked professional areas where there is a need for common training. The Guidelines deal with training at three levels: the professional, senior management, and the paraprofessional. The question of training for technical specialities is not dealt with.

8.1.2 Although there is a body of knowledge common to this professional area (which should be harmonised as far as possible with curricula for training librarians and information scientists), it is not possible to establish a single model which will be useful in all circumstances. Archives and records management must remain rooted in local traditions and practices. An important common feature, however, is that they must always be user-oriented, and that their effectiveness may be measured by their service to users, and by their adaptability. A common training ought to be able to reconcile the two aspects of archives and records work: the dual orientation towards current or recent information supply, and towards historical study.

(Internal references are to the paragraph in the main text which provides discussion of the specific guideline).

8.2 Infrastructure

8.2.1 level of Development:

Before a new course of archival training can successfully be established in a country, there would need to be a general level of development, featuring the following elements:

- a modern system of government with coherent planning practices (2.1-2).

- a public education system producing potential recruits and a recognised career structure and expectation; public recognition of the nature of the job is also needed (2.2).

- a network of cultural institutions (libraries, museums, etc) and organised research activities (based in universities, specialised institutes, etc), and a number of large institutions generating records and exercising administrative practices (2.3).

- access to some common forms of technology (2.4).

8.2.2 Manpower Planning

A more specific infrastructural requirement is that provision should be made for the development of information services in the general manpower plan, with the following features:

- a supply of candidates, principally at graduate level, from the public education system (2.5-6)

- a supply of recruits, at levels below that of university graduates, for paraprofessional posts, and for technical and craft specialists (2.6-7)

8.2.3 Aims and pedagogical strategies

The aim of the training is to produce self-reliant and self-critical practitioners. This demands strategies which

- promote student initiative in learning and discourage mechanical or rote learning (2.9)

8.2.4 Information Services

Practical training in-house is a necessary component of information training. Existing information services should be able to provide:

- access to practicing documentation centres (2.10)

- access to functioning library services (2.10)

- access to specialist technology (2.10)

- collaborative contact with professionals during practical

- training (2.11).

8.2.5 Status

The status of information professionals has an important influence on the effectiveness of their service. Training programes should aim at ensuring that there will be:

- an appropriate career grade for archives and other information workers (2.12)

- recruitment of well-motivated and high-calibre students, with a strong sense of service (2.12)

- training which is relevant, specialist and vocational (2.13)

8.2.6 Other features

Planning the siting, output and level of a training centre involves the following considerations:

- the possibility of some training in foreign countries, bringing knowledge of alternative systems and international guidelines, recommended practices and standards (2.14-15).

- the value of developing indigenous training systems and staff (2.15)

- the need to give full academic accreditation to training which introduces new members to a profession linked with research, and to give advanced practitioners and teachers the chance to work for higher degrees (2.16)

8.2.7 Professional associations the role of these associations may include:

- internationally, assistance in finding grants, bursaries and fellowships to support students and teachers (2.17)

- a share in planning and accreditation of the courses (2.18)

8.3 Institutional Factors

8.3.1 In terms of the institutional nature of the training school, the following are principal requirements:

- finance for capital and recurrent expenditure (3.1-2)

- buildings for three functions: teaching, technical work and support services (3.2)

8.3.2 Teaching rooms:

- design should be appropriate to the teaching method (probably informal) (3.3)

- capacity of rooms should be designed in view of the curriculum and student groupings arranged by it (3.4)

- physical atmosphere should be suitable (this may require air-conditioning and humidity control in the tropics) (3.4)

8.3.3 Technical rooms

- preservation laboratory. If this is provided it should have a technical staff to support it as a base for teaching and research. A simple laboratory using local materials is possible (3.5).

- reprographics laboratory. Advanced equipment requires a higher environmental and technical standards (3.5).

- laboratories are resources that should be shared, and may support joint research and teaching (3.5).

8.3.4 Supporting accommodation

- individual teaching staff offices (3.6)

- library facilities:

(a) services - to provide these it will usually be necessary to integrate the specialist library with a larger service; (b) materials - a full collection of professional materials, maintained and updated (3.6)

- staff and student common rooms, usually best integrated into those of the larger campus (3.6) - administrative offices, with access to equipment for making and storing teaching aids (3.6)

8.3.5 Other factors which should be considered:

- future technological development in

(a) pedagogical technologies

(b) informational and communication technologies, including access to computers and data processing

(c) advanced reprography, xerography, photography, microforms (3.7) resource sharing with related departments or the larger institution may lead to better equipment and the benefits of intellectual interchange (3.8) the need to rely upon local materials and resources, both in the present and in forward planning (3.9) the provision of student accommodation, catering and subsistence and of financial provision for the support of research and higher studies may follow national systems (3.10-11)

8.3.6 Staff:

- staff/student ratio should not be less favourable than 1:12, though this is not a useful statistic in planning archive schools (3.12)

- from one to three full-time staff members may be needed to provide teaching of professional subjects, teaching of other subjects demands access to additional staff time. Provision should be made for research, advanced study, and academic interchange (3.13)

- teachers of professional subjects need both qualifications and experience, as this may justify detaching a successful practitioner from his substantive work. Expatriate teachers are not usually a satisfactory alternative in the long term (3.14-15)

- recruiting and training an indigenous body of teachers of archival subjects should be a priority; the existing skills of practitioners in post could be drawn upon by offering part-time teaching (3.16-18)

- subjects additional to the professional subjects will normally be taught by employing teachers in kindred or allied departments (3.13,3.19)

- the teaching of administrative history presents a special difficulty in that it has to be researched and taught by archivists (and so how can the discipline be established initially?) (3.19)

8.3.7 Students:

- students may be full or part-time (3.20-21)

- part-time enrolment allows for better practical applications, including arrangements whereby students attend courses for part of the year and work the rest (3.20)

- full-time enrolment has academic advantages (3.20-21)

- student numbers are determined by several factors: accommodation and resources; the availability of candidates; employment potential and underlying demand. Numbers may vary from the very small (say 6 students and 1 full-time teacher) to the very large (specialized national institute with student numbers in the hundreds). An initial practical target might be 5 students at professional and 20 at paraprofessional level (3.22)

- selection procedures should include tests of academic ability and achievement, and motivation. Responsibility for selection of students should rest with the school, rather than with employers (3.23).

8.3.8 Learning resources are particularly important as they allow a teaching method which is student-centred and does not depend on imparting information authoritatively. The main resources include:

- bookshop facilities (3.24)

- library facilities, including international technical and specialist materials (3.25)

- non-book materials (3.25)

- access to technical facilities such as computers (3.26-27)

- visits, demonstrations and models, involving active participation by professional staff in post (3.28-29)

8.4 Educational Factors

8.4.1 Objectives: planning a training programme:

- a survey to establish manpower requirements in the context of the development of information services (4.1)

- planning which aims to provide professionals who are user-oriented and open to resource-sharing and innovation (4.2-3)

- a concept of the function of a training school which regards it as a centre of development, with research, outreach, updating and continuing education programmes (4.4)

8.4.2 Target groups

The levels of entry and output, and the type of training offered need also to be planned. The following are important considerations:

- the general aim, to provide staff for archives and records management and technical services; provision for the main body of professionals, supported by paraprofessionals, providing the basis for directorial staff (4.5)

- career structures to assimilate graduates of the training scheme (4.6)

- initially, training should aim at producing professionals who can undertake early responsibility (4.7-8)

8.5 Entrance Levels

8.5.1 Training courses should be provided for all appropriate levels of entrant: professional, managerial, paraprofessional:

- courses at each level should be complete in themselves, aiming at producing effective operational staff (5.1-2)

8.5.2 Professional courses:

- initial entry requirement should be a first degree (5.3)

- the standard of the training course should be a master's degree (5.3)

- the standard of entrant should be appropriate to the standing of the course (5.4)

- the length of the course should be about one year (5.5)

- the quality of teaching should be appropriate to a postgraduate course (5.6)

- motivation is the principal factor in selecting entrants (5.7)

- experience in retrospective documentary research is a desirable feature in candidates' first degree (5.7)

- validation of the qualification given should be accepted by academic, professional and employing organizations (5.8)

8.5.3 Higher Grades

- directorial personnel deal with professional duties but in relation to strategic planning, overall management and external relations (5.9)

- skills required are those of management and specialist knowledge in professional fields (5.10)

- the main requirement for selection of candidates is leadership ability (5.11)

8.5.4 Continuing education:

- regular updating and recycling courses suitable to all levels (5.12)

8.5.5 Training of teachers:

- there should be training in teaching methods and technology (5.13)

- experienced and effective professionals should be posted to teaching posts wherever possible (5.13)

- training is a function of every professional service (5.13)

8.5.6 Paraprofessionals

- entrants should be of high quality (5.14-15)

- the number of trainees should correspond closely with actual job opportunities (5.15)

- there should be opportunities for paraprofessionals to rise in their career with further study (5.16)

- the course should be practically-based and contain an element of general education (5.17-18)

8.6 Scope and Range of Curriculum

8.6.1 Archives and records management are practical operations based upon a knowledge of theory. Courses should be characterised by:

- academic status and orientation (6.2)

- strong practical elements at all stages in the course (6.2-3)

- practical training in records management (6.4)

8.6.2 Local curriculum development

Archives services are rooted in the administrative methods of their country. There can be no generally applicable model of training for it. Curriculum must be developed locally, and take account of:

- the interests and capabilities of teaching staff (6.5)

- the advice of practicing archivists (6.5)

- the nature of the practical training possible (6.5)

8.6.3 The scope, range and structure of courses

Archival training has to be harmonised with two different areas of study:

- library and information science and parallel training courses in information work (Systems studies) (6.6.7)

- user interests and disciplines, studies arising from the content of the archives served (subject studies) (6.7-8)

8.6.4 The structure of the course must relfect this by making the following provision:

- professional core subjects records management archives management interpretative sciences and skills administrative history (6.9, 6.11-15)

- courses in common with other information training reprographics exhibition preservation and restoration information storage, retrieval & dissemination bibliography & sources of information user studies legislation security building design and environmental control systems design & automation (6.9, 6.16)

- courses in common with other sectors management sciences; statistics - languages research methodology & environment (6.9, 6.17) additional fields: general foundation courses (6.10) practicals and special study (6.18) electives: education preservation publication special formats oral evidence (6.9, 6.19)

8.6.5 Other courses should include:

- in-service, technical and updating courses (6.20)

- continuing education (6.20)

8.7 Construction of a Course

8.7.1 Course design should:

- give a full range of training at appropriate levels to professional, directorial and paraprofessional entrants (7.1)

- give a common basic training to all entrants despite specialisation in the career structures (7.1)

8.7.2 The model curriculum is divided into modules:

- first professional qualification: records management 1 module

archives administration 1 module

interpretative sciences and administrative history 1 module

courses in common with sister professions 4 modules

courses in common with other sectors 2 modules

special study or task

- second (advanced) professional qualification: this course is not modular: management sciences a professional speciality to doctorate level

- paraprofessional courses

general foundation

records management 1 module

archives administration 1 module

administrative/national history 1 module

courses in common with sister professions 3 modules

language 1 module

Sam Kula


As the exponential increase in the volume of contemporary records threatens to inundate the archival repositories of the world, appraisal and selection have become essential elements in the archival process. Despite the inarguable theoretical objections to selection advanced by Jenkinson (neither the historian nor the archivist should share in the creation of archives), the dual pressures of space and cost are forcing all archivists to adopt at least some of the proposals of Schellenberg for modern archives management, proposals in which appraisal and selection are deeply embedded.

Appraisal remains, however, the most sensitive aspect of archives administration, with the archivist open to allegations of subjectivity, or the inherent prejudice of a bureaucrat, regarding records selected, and charges of incompetence, if not criminal complicity, regarding records destroyed. Decisions are made, nevertheless, even though the policies on which they are based are seldom precise or unequivocal. And if the policies were clear and consistent, it is doubtful whether they would be interpreted in the same way in another organisation, in another country, or by the next generation of archivists.

The uneasiness with which archivists now approach the appraisal and selection of traditional government paper records - the record groups, series, and files that still represent the administrative history of a government department as well as constituting a record of its activities is intensified when the archivist is faced with non-textual records. If little exists in the way of guidelines or uniform practice when dealing with traditional paper records, there is even less when the newer media are at issue. Since moving image records are sledom part of government records series, and therefore firmly grounded as to provenance and evidentiary function, they are not readily assessible in the context of the activity that initiated their production. Moving images produced outside of direct governmental sponsorship - the so-called private sector in countries where film and television production are not state monopolies - are even more difficult to appraise using the selection criteria developed for government records.

Henri Langlois, the founder of the Cinemathèque Française in Paris and one of the founders of the International Federation of Film Archives, always maintained that any selection policy was indefensible, that no archivist had the right to play God in determining which films would live and which would die. The position is theoretically unassailable, and when only a relative handful of titles were accessible for archival conservation in the chaos of the immediate post-war years in Europe, the policy of total inclusion was probably the only practical one to adopt. As the volume of production increased, however, and the archives, operating without a copyright or mandatory deposit law, had to actively solicit acquisitions through voluntary deposit, of necessity choices were made. The film archivist, by acting to save only certain titles, was inevitably condemning other titles to oblivion. In the absence of an articulated appraisal and selection policy the accessions that were made took on the character of accident, or

That there were only a handful of archives throughout the world actively acquiring and conserving motion pictures in the first fifty years following the invention of cinematography, and that those were exclusively non-governmental museums and cinematheques, perhaps explains the scarcity of references to the archival preservation of moving images in the literature of the day. Appraisal and selection policy had to wait for a more serious engagement with moving images by a broad spectrum or archival organisations. This has now occurred in many countries and the pervasive influence of television is accelerating the process. In many countries without a history of motion picture production, the archival preservation of moving images is a direct outgrowth of the advent of television broadcasting, and the concern that this aspect of the cultural heritage, linked as it is with many other aspect of the culture, should not be lost.

Although the International Federation of Film Archives was originally established in 1938, it was not until 1972 that the International Council on Archives (ICA) took official recognition of moving imeages in a report entitled Archives of Motion Pictures, Photographic Records and Sound Recordings prepared by Kohte for the Moscow Congress. Following a report on the archives of film, television and radio which the present author prepared for the London Congress in 1980, the ICA established a Working Group on Audio-visual Records. Unesco's link with the movement until 1980 was through the International Film and Television Council and its efforts to establish international standards for the cataloguing of moving images at least for the purposes of international exchanges. The present study is another indication that archival repositories, both governmental as well as non-governmental, are beginning to accept responsibility for moving images in an era when the volume of production makes appraisal and selection not an option, but a critical necessity.

In the years to come appraisal of moving images may be linked to the objectives of the Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Moving Images, adopted by the General Assembly of Unesco at the 1980 Belgrade Conference. It is, after all, the intent of the Recommendation that all moving image documents of cultural, historical or social significance be deposited and conserved in official archives, designated or established for the purpose, but not necessarily all moving imeages produced and/or distributed in any one territory.

Appraisal of moving images is still a very new concept, and one that is not universally accepted as necessary or wise. Several of my colleagues in the field stand firm with Langlois in the belief that it is dangerous, or at the very least an inherently evil practice to be avoided at all cost. The Recommendation wisely leaves designation of what should be deposited, as well as when and how, to national legislation, but implicit in the Recommendation is the concept of selection. In the light of that attitude, and with due regard to the history of benign neglect that can best characterize the relationship of state archives and moving images during the past eighty years, the guidelines suggested here are tentative. They represent an attempt to extrapolate from archival principles and practices in processing traditional paper records a few principles that could form the basis for an appraisal policy in moving images. If they facilitate the formulation of appraisal policies, or if they even succeed in generating a discussion among archivists that will eventually lead to the development of principles on which to base the appraisal of moving images, they will have served their purpose.


7.1 Appraisal of moving image records is a contentious issue.

Archivists have just begun to recognise their value as historic documents and while many archives have initiated limited programs of selective acquisition, many more have deferred action due to the financial commitment associated with the technology involved. In the absence of any action by national archives, and as a response to the severe losses that occurred in the first fifty years of cinematography and in the first twenty-five years of television broadcasting, a variety of non-governmental organisations working for the most part with inadequate resources, have tried to restore part of the moving image heritage and to safeguard those contemporary moving image records that have obvious historic, social, cultural or artistic value.

7.2 These non-governmental organisations, now being joined by state archives at both the regional and national level, are linked in their activities through the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) and International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT). Both these federations have been attempting to develop appraisal standards, but there has been little consensus within each federation and between the federations. At one extreme archivists in non-governmental organisations echo Sir Hilary Jenkinson and argue that any selection is wrong, that the archivist does not have the right "to play God". In the light of this position all moving images should be safeguarded by a network of moving image archives acting in concert.

7.3 The argument for total conservation is encountered more often in FIAF than in FIAT where archivists have to contend with the enormous volume of moving images generated by television broadcasting, and where archivists attached to broadcasting networks theoretically have the entire production available as acquisitions. Selection criteria in television broadcasting, however, is inevitably orientated to the needs of broadcasters. Value is determined to a large extent, on the likelihood of re-use by the production organisation. That determination, however, is based on the intrinsic historical or cultural value of the programme or sequence. In addition television archivists add illustrative specimens of repetitive programming and programmeS that mark a significant advance in the art of the technology.

7.4 In practice all non-governmental moving image archives are selective even though the appraisal standards are seldom precise or well - articulated. The emphasis among FIAF member archives is on national productions that documents the film and television industries and on international productions that advance the art of the film or which constitute important historical or cultural documents. Selection criteria for non-governmental depositories also include moving images that are part of the oeuvre of producers and directors whose careers are significant in the history of the film and television industries.

7.5 Appraisal standards for governmental archives may now embody similar criteria, but in the past they have been rooted in the classic world today meet these criteria. The value of moving images as historical documentation lies primarily in their informational value. They seldom reflect the activities of a governmental or institutional entity, nor do they often offer insight on the implementation of government regulations or the application of corporate policies.

7.6 Moving images are, however, part of the "public" record, and they reflect the ideology of their producers, whether they are government departments or private entrepeneurs. Regardless of the mechanism of distribution - theatrical, non-theatrical or television - they are normally intended for mass audiences and they play an increasingly important role in determining how that audience perceives the issues of the day and the society in which they function. Moving images may not always be an accurate mirror of the societal structures that have generated them, and of the audiences that have consumed them, but they always impact on societal development and thus, for better or worse, become an integral part of that society's culture.

7.7 For state archives with a broad mandate tp conserve all documents of national historic interest the following criteria for the selection of moving images, by no means exclusive or exhaustive, should be considered:

i) Administrative: Moving images which are produced as a result of the activities of government agencies and which document the policies and programs of the sponsoring agencies, or which complement documents in other media that have been selected and conserved. This is sometimes referred to as evidential or functional value.

ii) Historical: Moving images which document the political, economic, scientific, technological, social and cultural life of the country, either as actualities (documentaries, and newsfilm) or as dramatisations.

iii) Sociological: Moving images which document the significance of the film and television as an integral part of the public record and the popular culture, and which function as an unofficial record of the national cultural heritage, either as actualities or as dramatisations.

7. Moving image archives attached to production organisations or officially designated as the archives or such activity in a country should also consider the following criteria:

i) Moving images which document the history and development of the image making activity in terms of significant milestones in time, in form, in genre, in technology, and in content.

ii) Moving images which document the activity in relation to a significant personality, an image making unit, or to a regional or ethnic or racial minority involvement.

iii) Moving images which have been distinguished by critical or popular acclaim and which have been instrumental in influencing the nature and direction of further production. iv) Moving images which have a high potential for re-use by the production organisation, or which meet perceived immediate or future research needs by the community the archives serves.

7.9 Moving image archives which are private, non-profit, non-governmental organisations which a mandate to promote and develop public appreciation of the media as well as to conserve the media could add the following criteria:

i) Moving images from both the foreign and domestic production that mark significant advances in aesthetic, artistic or technological development of the media.

ii) Moving images whose production and/or distribution, both foreign or domestic, documents major social or political changes, or which challenge contemporary community standards and/or censorship laws on what is acceptable in subject matter, treatment or form.

iii) Moving images that explore the relationship between the audience and the screen, or which reflexively examine the image-making process.

iv) Variant versions of moving images regarded as 'classics' which are valuable for film study and for the purpose of film restoration; 'outtakes' from such productions if significant in documenting the process of production; and 'cuts' made from such productions on demand of censorship authorities.

7.10 Factors which should be considered in applying these selection criteria could include the following:

i) First priority should be given to the moving images of the national production, including moving images produced in the country by visitors or under the authority of former administrations. Where such images no longer exist in the country every effort should be made to repatriate them as part of the national moving image heritage.

ii) Foreign films distributed in the country, especially when sub-titled or 'dubbed' in the language of the country, may be designated as part of the moving image heritage and selected if they meet the appraisal standards.

iii) Specimens of repetitious or voluminous productions (serials, advertising commercials) should be selected systematically and with sufficient frequency in order to document the entire production schedule.

iv) Specimens of moving image production for television broadcasting, in the context of the broadcast schedule, should be documented by recording and conserving entire days of broadcasts with a frequency that adequately reflects schedule changes.

v) Given the severe losses that have occurred world-wide as a result of technological obsolescence (the introduction of nitro-cellulose stock, pre-1950) any film produced before 1930, regardless of content, should be seriously considered for selection as a relatively rare surviving example of a very substantial production; and all films produced before 1950 on 35mm stock should be given priority in appraisal and processing because of the inherent instability of the stock. Special precautions must be taken to segregate film on nitrocellulose stock in environmentally controlled vaults.

7.11 In order to achieve the orderly transfer of moving image production resources to achives custody, the introduction of modern records management techniques should be encouraged at the earliest stage possible in the production process. All production elements (negatives, prints, videotapes, etc.), and related documentation, should be identified, designated, and scheduled so that the disposition of the elements can be controlled at every stage of the production/diffusion process. The short term (3-5 years) retention of the broadest possible selection of moving images should be the objective, to provide opportunity for a final selection with some sense of historical perspective.

7.12 Whenever possible documentation directly related to the production (scripts, stills, posters, press books, etc.) or associated with the production (production files, correspondence, memoranda, etc.) should be appraised at the same time as the production itself. When selected, such documentation must be intellectually linked with the production although it may be physically separated.

7.13 In the final analysis, the appraisal of moving images is as unscientific, as imprecise, and as inherently frustrating as the appraisal of any type of archival record and indeed any judgemental process. After years of personal soul-searching, open forums, and professional debates, archivists are still without a consensus but some progress has been made since the first theories of modern archives administration were being developed at the turn of the century. It is obvious untenability of the alternate positions let the administrator (image maker) decide, or retain everything in perpetuity - that has forced archivists to practice appraisal, and because the policies have never been precise, or practical, or consistent over time, the results have normally been a compromise fully acceptable to neither archivist nor researcher, or an outright disaster.

7.14 Faced with an exponential increase in the volume of production that shows no sign of levelling off (the introduction of low-cost videotape cameras and recorders has expanded and exploded the use of moving images throughout the world), the archivist must select, and select in a co-ordinated program with fellow archivists in the home territory and with colleagues around the world. Needless duplication must be avoided . Even with the possibility of applying the emerging technologies of the videodisc and the digital encoding of moving images to the development of new, low-cost storage mediums and instantaneous modes of diffusion, this generation of moving image archivists will still have to apply appraisal policies to prevent that archives from sinking under the weight of accessions, and the researcher of the future from drowning in a sea of redundant, and trivial images.

Michel Duchein


1.1 The notion of access to arrives': origin and development

1.1.1 Definition of archives

Before taking up the study of the origin and development of the notion of 'access to archives', it would be well to begin by providing a clear definition of the word archives, which, throughout the ages and in different countries has exhibited quite a variety of meanings.

Even today, markedly different meanings are given this word by laws and regulations in accordance with various cultural areas.

In most countries with long-standing archives traditions, particularly in Europe, the word archives (in German Archiv, in Spanish archive, in Italian archivio, in Russian archiv, etc.) designates 'all documents, whatever their age, format or material composition, that are produced or received by any physical or moral person or by any public or private service or organisation in the performance of their activities'. 1. On the other hand, in the United States and certain other countries that have adopted its terminology, especially Canada, the word archives, in contrast to the word records (translated into Canadian French by the word documents), has taken on the more restricted - sense of 'non-current records preserved, with or without selection, by those responsible for their creation or by their successors in function for their own use by an appropriate archive because of their archival value'. 2. It should be clearly specified, then, that throughout the present study the usual 'European' meaning of the word archives is being used. In other words, it is equivalent not only to the American archives, but also to the American records, defined as 'recorded information, regardless of form or medium, created, received and maintained by an agency, institution, organisation or individual in pursuance of its legal obligations or in the transaction of business'. 3.

Nevertheless since access to documents is in practice and sometimes even under law, closely linked to their actual existence in an archives repository, a distinction will be made, when required, between archives contained in a repository (archives, as used in the United States) and administrative documents (records).

In the language of the archivists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the word archives often designated solely documents of public origin, or at least documents created by established institutions such as courts, churches, and universities, to the exclusion of private and family papers, personal correspondence and the like. This distinction continues to exist in the United States where papers of personal and family origin are usually grouped under the term manuscripts. In all other countries the word archives is now used for documents of both private and public origin, although their legal status is obviously different. This distinction will be made in the present study by differentiating, when required, public archives and private archives.

In conformity with the now universally accepted definition, the word archives is applied to all physical forms of documents, whether traditional ('textual') documents; pictorial documents; cartographic documents; photographic documents, including films and microfilms; sound documents; and 'machine-readable' documents (i.e. produced/used by computers).


1. Translation of the French definition of archives in International Council on Archives Dictionnaire international de terminologie archivistique, in the process of publication.

2. Ibid. English definition of the word archives.

3. Ibid. English definition of the word records.


Throughout this study, we have essentially been considering the various legal and practical means of access to archives for the applicants: historians and other academic researchers, but also civil servants and the curious.

There is another form of 'access to archives' with which we have not dealt because it must be approached from a completely different angle, but which must not be passed over in silence in an overall study on accessibility: that is, exhibitions and, generally speaking, the efforts deployed to make archives known to the public. This is today a very dynamic aspect of the activity of archive services in a large number of countries, and will make an increasingly important contribution in the future to attracting new researchers to the archives.

Nevertheless, we should not forget that before we can be concerned about making archives 'accessible', they will have to exist, and must be in a fit state to be accessible, that is, physically intact and properly arranged. However, this twofold condition is by no means satisfied everywhere. As Mr Dadzie said at the Extraordinary International Congress on Archives held at Washington in 1966 on the subject of 'The opening of archives to research' : 'in the developing countries, liberalization of access to archives must begin with their safeguarding and organization'. On receiving the questionnaire which was sent to all countries in preparation of the present study, many developing countries replied: 'Access to archives is non-existent in this country in the absence of premises, qualified staff and classified holdings'. This is, unfortunately, a feature of the question which should receive attention at world level.

Another important conclusion of this study is that if the archives are to be made truly accessible, it is not enough to proclaim, in the preamble to a Constitution or to a Declaration of Rights, the principle of the freedom of information. It would be only too easy to give examples of such proclamations in countries where it is common knowledge that government and administrative documents are, in fact, completely inaccessible.

What is needed is:

1. a law, or at least a decree, specifically affirming the right of access to public archives, and defining the latter in such a way that there can be no room for dispute about it;

2. official and public regulations, specifying which documents are freely available, which documents are subject to access restrictions, and what the procedures are for requesting permission to consult the documents which are not freely available;

3. archive repositories with reading rooms large enough to receive researchers and with staff sufficiently trained to make archives accessible, that is, to arrange, list and communicate them;

4. Legislation providing the necessary guarantees for access to private archives of outstanding interest for national history.

We must not forget that public archives, by their very nature, are part of the governmental and administrative framework of a country. It would hence be quixotic to demand that they be opened completely and without restrictions to research. There will always be military and diplomatic problems, international disputes, scientific secrets, economic negotiations, not to mention questions touching people's private life, for which the documents will long remain inaccessible.

Furthermore, the archives are part of the heritage of a country and concern for making them accessible should not lead to jeopardising their very existence. A comparison may be made here with another domain; the proection of nature. In various countries, over-rapid and systematic opening of natural wealth - forests, beaches, mountains and rivers - to the public, has led to such serious deterioration that now governments are concerned to restrict access to them, to the extent of creating 'prohibited areas' or 'limited-access areas' in order to ensure their survival. This is also the case for a number of museums or historic monuments, such as the prehistoric caves of Lascaux which had to be closed to the public in order to prevent the total disappearance of the cave frescos. Certain categories of documents in the archives have already suffered seriously from over-use. It is, of course, always possible to microfilm them in order to prevent the originals from being handled, but this is an expensive procedure, and by no means all archive services have the resources necessary for such systematic microfilming.

Thus it has been seen that the problems of the accessibility of archives are inextricably tied to a whole complex of legal problems (definition of public archives and private archives, the right to information, the right to privacy, the protection of state and private interests, etc.), and also to a whole series of technical and administrative problems (the organisation of archive services and the transfer of administrative files to archive repositories, systems of arrangement and listing, etc.) and practical problems (premises for receiving the public, manpower for archive services, provision of microfilming equipment, etc.). It would be vain to expect that all these problems might be resolved in identical fashion everywhere. Inequality of economic and cultural conditions is considerably among the various countries in the world, as are their legal and administrative traditions.

In conclusion, we might at least express the following hopes:

1. that all countries will, as a minimum, adopt legislation on archives, including a definition of public and private archives, regulations for keeping them and general principles governing their availability for research;

2. that the various international organisations making up the United Nations system will adopt uniform rules concerning access to their own archives, with the consent of the Member States;

3. that assistance will be provided for the least-favoured countries in order to establish archive services capable of making documents accessible according to the rules laid down by national laws.

In order that these hopes should begin to be realised, it would seem appropriate to suggest calling, within the framework of Unesco, an international meeting bringing together, together with a number of experts in the field of access to archives, not only archivists and users of archives, but also representatives of government authorities, in particular from countries where the legislation and regulations on this point are at present non-existent or inadequate, for example Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, Greece, India, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and Zaire. (This list is given as a guide and is by no means restrictive).

For lack of an unattainable harmonisation of legislation and regulations throughout the world, such a meeting, with the present report as a starting point, would at least make it possible to bring about greater awareness on the part of the governments of the various countries of the problem of the accessibility of their archives, and thus to contribute to greater knowledge and better use of an essential part of their national heritage.

Marie Charlotte Stark


1.2.2 As applied to United Nations agencies, this study with guidelines is intended:

(a) To encourage and assist them in gaining management recognition and staff acceptance of a co-ordinated programme of records management and archives administration with a professional staff responsible for administering records throughout their complete life cycle from creation to disposal.

(b) To emphasise, in planning and budgeting, the practical value of records management as a tool for operational effectiveness through improved quality and usability of records and archives and through avoidance of unnecessary costs due to wasted time, materials and prime space, duplication of effort, and lost records or mislaid files resulting from inadequate practices.

(c) To contribute to the harmonization, insofar as practicable, of records management and archival techniques and procedures among United Nations agencies, particularly with regard to functions common to most or all agencies.

(d) To promote co-operation in matters of common interest, such as exchange of technical expertise; development of training courses for records management and archives professionals and paraprofessionals; and preparation of training materials, including audiovisual aids, for use in indoctrinating programme and operational staff.

(e) To set goals and provide models for the basic components of an integrated records management and archives system.

1.2.3 The application of professional records management and archival principles and techniques, as well as the prevalence of similar types of records, particularly those in the administrative sector in most agencies, point to the feasibility of harmonization of certain types of records and archives systems among United Nations agencies. Agencies with more developed systems can give technical assistance, serve as models for newer or smaller agencies, and bolster efforts to gain management recognition and adequate budgeting, staffing, and facilities. Although attempts to impose uniform procedures on agencies having widely divergent functions, size, operational goals and degrees of openness to public scrutiny would not be feasible across the board, an awareness of the crucial importance of records can be instilled throughout the UN System that can be expected to bring tangible benefits in efficient administration and expanded utilization of those information resources.

1.2.4 The Guidelines will attempt to focus on those elements of records management and archives administration programmer that will encourage and promote improvement in record keeping within agencies in the UN system. The thrust will be on concepts and recommended policies and procedures, with reference to selected practices used in certain agencies or several agencies, so that general principles can be adapted to fit each agency as relevant. The aim will be, as indicated at the Expert Consultation in New York, to set optimum rather than minimum goals and standards so that agencies can proceed as the situation allows step by step toward ultimate goals.

1.3 Procedure

1.3.1 The format for presentation of each topic in Chapters 2 to 5 is as follows: the current situation is described, problems and alternative solutions are discussed, with reference to certain representative agencies consulted for this study, and a number of specific conclusions or recommendations are made. Whenever possible these sub-divisions are designated by topic subnumbers ending in 1, 2 and 3 respectively. The Guidelines in Chapter 6 summarise the conclusions under each topic in the foregoing text and are presented in numerical order, with reference to the relevant numbered section of the text. The Appendices and Figures reproduce directives and forms used in various agencies. Finally, a bibliography, annotated as necessary, is given of publications cited or noted.

Throughout the work, archival and records management terms used and the definitions given them are based upon the draft "International Glossary of Archival Terminology", prepared by ICA in co-operation with Unesco and subsequently published as Dictionary of Archival Terminology (Munich, KG Saur Verlag KG, 1984). Organisational units are referred to by functional names because of the wide differences in structure and titles among UN agencies. Because of possible ambiguities in the concept and use of basic terms, arising from differences between European and American usage in a number of agencies, dual terms have been used throughout this study, i.e., "records management and archives", "records manager/archivist", and "record centre/archives".


These Guidelines are essentially a synthesis of the conclusions and recommendations set forth at the end of each topic discussed in the text. They are based for the most part on the general records management principles and on procedures in effect in certain agencies. Since the scope of this study is comprehensive, the Guidelines focus on the dimensions of an integrated records management and archives programme instead of concentrating on definitive standards that would be selective in their applicability to various UN agencies at the present time. Further sources of information with respect to particular standards are indicated in the text and in the bibliography. The Guidelines, which are numbered consecutively within this chapter, refer to relevant numbered sections of the text.

6. Policy and Programme Directives (Section 2.1)

6.1 Each agency and separate body should issue within its formal series of executive orders and/or its Administrative Manual, a directive:

(a) establishing central responsibility for communications and for records management and archives, designating the officers charged with those responsibilities, including the authority of the Records Manager/Archivist to inspect records and other informational material in offices and to institute systems for their maintenance and disposal;

(b) specifying the inviolability of agency records and their mandatory transfer to the record centre/archives when no longer current;

(c) defining the Responsibility of staff for the safekeeping of records and information;

(d) specifying procedures for security classification and declassification (2.1.1).

6.2 Supplementary procedures and instructions should be incorporated in pertinent manuals, including all or some of the following: Correspondence Manual, Secretaries' Handbook, Records Manual, and Field Office Manual (2.1.2 to 4).

6.3 Location of Comunications, Records Management and Archives Functions:

The registry/records management and archives function should be under a single authority and assigned at least comparable status in the organisational hierarchy (equivalent to Service or Division) to other major information management services and, separate from routine administrative services, in order to invoke the authority necessary to carry out its purposes. When the Records Management and Archives unit, which is an information function, is separated organisationally from the Communications unit, which is an administrative function, both should be under the same department or sector to ensure smooth and effective collaboration. If the two functions are joined to reflect communications continuity in smaller

, agencies, unrelated administrative responsibilities for telephone, copying and messenger services should not be included (2.2.1).

6.4 Registry and Archives:

The organisation of the records function according to the Registry traditionally associated with agencies using the European registry system - as the unit that handles current records (sometimes including mail and cable and telex services), and the Archives, as the Unit which handles semi-current and non-current records, is gradually becoming more integrated as records management principles based on the life cycle concept and on a comprehensive records and archives programme are adopted (2.2.2).

6.5 Archives and Libraries:

The distinctive differences between archives and records management, on the one hand, and libraries, on the other, as to the information resources for which each is responsible and the specialised training and techniques required to deal with each, require that the two services should not be merged or integrated but that they should be complementary ( 2.2.3).

6.6 Secretariat Documentation

The official or archival sets of documents and publications of the organisation, in whatever form and including both publicly available and restricted and internal material, should be in the custody of the Archives as evidence of the organisation's existence and existence and activities. In practice, the Library should retain reference copies of agency documentation and publications which are accorded public access on the same basis as other library material. Finding aids should be prepared, as necessary, by the Archives and by the Library according to their respective standards and needs. Library produced bibliographical tools should contain reference only to documents and publications that are publicly available. The Conference Secretariat or Documentation Service should initially hold the official copies of current secretariat documentation until the agreed time for regular transfer to the Archives, and should prepare lists and indexes as necessary, except in those organisations where responsibility for documents distribution, custody of archives copies from time of creation, and indexing are centrally lodged with the Records Management and Archives unit (2.2.4).

6.7 Offices Generating Machine-Readable Records:

The Archivist should co-operate closely with computer systems managers from the choice of systems onwards to ensure the preservation of machine-readable records having potential archival value. Basic information inputted to the computer should be appraised carefully to ensure the preservation of information souces from which data aggregations and extrapolations have been made in order to avoid the inadvertent destruction of comparable data. Thus, there is an urgent need for recruitment in the Archives of technically trained staff to apply archival procedures to computer-generated records (2.2.5).,

6.8 Liaison with Services Having Related Functions:

The Records Management and Archives unit has a vital stake in matters affecting records creation and maintenance, including filing equipment and supplies; the control of forms and establishment of schedules for copies retained for information or record by various offices; the control of directives as regards their identification, source and purpose, their currentness and distribution, and the preservation of record copies with essential background information; the control of reports for similar reasons; environmental factors necessary for physical preservation of records of all types; and security measures for the protection of records and their contents. These interests can be fostered through active collaboration with the services directly charged with those functions. When it appears that there is a lacuna in management that adversely affects records and record-keeping, it is incumbent upon the Records Management and Archives unit to initiate co-operative action, or to intercede, when necessary, to promote and protect its inherent interests in those functions (2.2 .6 ) .

Information Infrastructure: Functional Relationships (Sec. 2.3):

6.9 Organisations which have diverse collections of data separated administratively by type or physical characteristics and by location and technical requirements - photographs, sound recordings, data banks, libraries (general and specialised collections), maps and charts, etc. - should prepare and disseminate widely within the organisation and, as appropriate, outside, a "Guide to Information Sources". The Records Management and Archives unit should act as catalyst and, if feasible, compiler of the Guide, from its vantage point of awareness of the broad spectrum of conventional and non-conventional documentary sources within the agency.

Field Offices (Section 2.4):

6.10 Procedures for maintaining current records, including the central classification plan (if appropriate) and illustrations of pertinent forms and of records equipment and supplies, should be described in detail in the Field Office Manual (see Guideline 6. 2) . The Manual should also contain schedules for recurrent records; instructions for their transfer on becoming semi-current to storage areas as required for continuing Reference for stated periods, and for their destruction as authorized when those periods have expired; as well as the transfer to headquarters after a specified time of records deemed to have permanent value for final appraisal and disposal.

6.11 Headquarters and field office files should follow a common agency classification plan, whenever feasible, to facilitate reference. Alternatively a common classification plan applying to Regional Offices which have similar functions should be established when that would be more relevant to file content and thus facilitate arrangement and reference. Filing procedures should include initial separation of material of continuing reference value from material of transitory interest (2.4.2).

6.12 Regular field inspections to audit procedures and accounts should include records procedures, and the head of the Records Management and Archives unit should receive relevant extracts of the Inspector's report. At the request of a field office or the Inspection Unit, an archivist or records manager from headquarters should be authorised, in conformity with agency policy, to make site surveys and recommendations for improvement of current records practices and for disposal of semi-current and non-current records (2.4.3).

6.13 Appraisal of field office records should take into account those which are duplicated at headquarters and those which are unique. A reporting form should be circulated annually to field offices by the headquarters Records Manager/Archivist requesting a list of record series destroyed under authorisations specificed in the Field Office Manual, and a list of other holdings of semi-current and non-current material that are awaiting appraisal by the Archivist (2.4.3).

Archival Repositories for Abolished and Suppressed Organisations and corporate Bodies (Section 2.5):

6.14 UN agencies having well-established archival facilities are proper repositories for archives of abolished or suppressed organisations within their historical or institutional area of interest, in preference to acquisition by libraries, national archival institutions, or private organisations

6.15 When UN bodies or specialised agencies, which are recipients of or which have been offered such collections, do not have facilities for their proper care, the Chief of the UN Archives in New York should be called upon for advice and assistance. The UN Archives should, in turn, make arrangements for preliminary review and appraisal of the material in order to make recommendations for custody by headquarters Archives or by another UN agency having suitable facilities and which has similar functional interests or is located in an area convenient to potential users. Necessary funding may-be requested from appropriate UN authorities or, if feasible, from foundations and other organisations which may be interested in making the records accessible for historical research.

6.16 The agency assuming custody should make sure that the legal and administrative integrity of the archives is preserved and that existing finding aids and documentation of the administrative history are attached.

6.17 In the event of a disagreement among agencies, the Chief of the UN Archives (or the Chairman of ICA/SAIO if affiliated with a UN agency) should appoint an inter-agency committee of archivists to review the case and recommend a solution.

Staffing, Training and Orientation (Section 2.6)

(a) Recruitment (2.6.1):

6.18 In order to attract staff with the necessary technical skills, broad-based education, and relevant experience, staffing patterns should be graded according to intellectual and technical responsibilities, range of duties, volume and character of the records, and special qualifications required, with allowance for capacity to meet new challenges.

6.19 A professional records manager/archivist should be appointed in each specialised and similar agency and each separate organ having a staff of at least 100 to 200; in larger agencies additional professionals should be appointed as necessary to direct the range of responsibilities, volume of substantive records, and specific technical activities for which professional planning and supervision are required.

6.20 Standard job descriptions for various positions should be made available among agencies and adjusted to meet their specific needs for use as guidelines. When feasible, tests should be developed to assess clerical applicants as to aptitude, analytical ability, judgement, cognative ability, assessment of records, problems and their solution, and, if appropriate, manual dexterity. More complex tests should be prepared for paraprofessionals, and, in some cases, professionals might also be tested as to aptitude, judgment, reference acuity, written and oral expression and negotiating skills, as well as technical proficiency relating to their specific responsibilities.

6.21 In order to develop staff capabilities, to form a career path, and to integrate more effectively functions relating to various stages of the life cycle of records, staff should be rotated between registry and records management and archival duties whenever feasible in order to broaden their insight and experience.

(b) Training (2.6.2):

6.22 Regional or cluster workshops and seminars, held under the auspices of Unesco and ICA/SAIO, should be held for staff at various levels senior administrative and information services officers, together with the heads of Records Management and Archives units, in an awareness and mutual dependency discussion; paraprofessionals, on technical or functional skills - automation, microfilming, preservation and restoration, reprography, accessioning and disposal; clerical, as to filing procedures, subject classification and reference techniques. Courses should be conducted by selected staff from various agencies (not necessarily United Nations) according to expertise in the topics to be discussed. Unesco should be asked to assist in financing the training.

6.23 Inter-agency internships of two weeks to three months, covering single or rotating functions, should be organised for paraprofessionals and sub-unit heads. An inter-agency committee, chaired by the Chairman of ICA/SAIO (or head of the UN Archives if the chairman is not affiliated with a UN agency) and with a rotating membership of no more than four other members, should be established to select applicants. Host organisations should be chosen, with their consent, by the Chairman. Agencies would be expected to bear the expenses of their staff attending; the host agency would not charge for its regular facilities.

6.24 Staff should be trained in needed specialities arising from new technology and also should be encouraged to take advantage of local university or professional training courses, making use of agency incentives of partial reimbursement of costs, if available.

(c) Orientation of Staff (2.6.3):

6.25 All new agency staff should receive regular indoctrination regarding records and archives functions and services as part of the general orientation programme. The head (or a representative) of the Records Management and Archives unit, should give at least one hour's oral presentation to secretarial and clerical staff, using slides and other visual aids if available, followed by a half-hour's tour of the record centre/archives and central registry. A briefer orientation should be addressed to professionals, preferably by the head of the unit, with a suggested tour of central facilities to those interested. When orientation of professionals is given by a senior official, the Records Management and Archives unit should provide a script or background notes. Agency training personnel should be encouraged to schedule courses on a frequent and regular basis in view of their importance to the agency as well as to the individual.

6.26 In offices serviced by a centrally controlled or administered decentralised file station, both professional and secretarial or clerical staff should receive indoctrination in the stations resources, procedures, and services. Emphasis should be on creating a partnership of files staff and clients for their mutual benefit.

6.27 Audiovisual aids should be emploued whenever available for orientation purposes. Exchanges between agencies of relevant slides and drawings, or preparation of a motion picture documentary, by the UN or by ICA/SAIO with Unesco support, on the nature and importance of records should be explored as a means to enliven and popularise orientation sessions.

Reporting and Statistics (section 2.7)

6.28 The basic principles to be followed in collecting statistics are: consistency, clear definitions of terms, regularity, and standard measurements.

6.29 A revised statistical model for measuring records holdings, activities and services of active UN agencies and other international governmental organisations is proposed for development by Unesco, in collaboration with ICA, to collect data on records creation, maintenance of current records, management of semi-current and non-current records, and archives resources and services. The model should also provide data on auxiliary services, such as microfilming, forms control, and automated finding aids. The questionnaire for the proposed model should be initiated as a pilot project and, after revisions, based on experience, should be circulated to UN agencies at invervals of two to five years, as agreed, in order to provide comparable data and analyze trends (2.7.2).

6.30 Printed or mimeographed forms should be used whenever possible to expedite routine compilation of recurrent data on a daily and cumulative basis, such as mailings, postage, correspondence processed, items filed, index entries, etc.

6.31 Workload statistics should place greater emphasis on gathering qualitative data on information services furnished as a means of revealing a more positive image of the Records Management and Archives unit's activities than is shown in exclusively quantitative data (2.7.3).

Records Creation (Section 3.1)

(a) Specifications for Record Material. (3.1.1)

6.32 The Records Management and Archives unit should promote preventive preservation by close collaboration with the Procurement service on purchases of supplies for archival-type records. Technical advice on specific requirements for materials may be secured from relevant ICA committees and from professional literature.

6.33 Approved standards include the use of permanent (100% cotton fibre) grade paper for formal legal instruments and ceremonial documents; encasing unbound ceremonial documents in acid-free polyester sheets or sleeves to eliminate physical contact; encasing photographic negatives and prints individually in similar polyester sleeves or acid-free envelopes; use of silver (halide) microfilm for all archival microforms, with diazo copies for security and reference copies; placement of historical documents and records, if possible, in acid-free file folders or in acid-free documents boxes with metal corners and hinges; selection of appropriate file folders by weight according to function and purpose; use of manifold paper of permanent/durable quality to produce record carbons of potentially archival records.

6.34 The lack of control of paper quality emanating from copiers, word processors and printers, which are usually 100% bleached sulphite, as well as the diminishing quality of ordinary paper, indicating the need to observe closely signs of deterioration so that remedial action, such as microfilming or other types of reprography, can be undertaken before valuable records become brittle or the writing fades.

(b) Procedure for Specific Categories of Paperwork (3.2.2)

6.35 The role of Records Manager/Archivist should be conceived as that of a member of the agency management team committed to facilitating the accumulation and accessing of essential information currently and retrospectively. Thus, the Records Management and Archives unit from its vantage point as the agency's principal information centre should make a conscious effort to contribute its knowledge and services in matters that reflect the many-faceted aspects of paperwork management - mail management, correspondence management, files management, forms management, reports management, and directives management. In addition to those areas where its primary interests are indisputable the unit can also assist in providing and managing systems for the control of forms and of certain aspects of reports and directives that would otherwise be neglected. (See also Guideline 6.8).

(c) Automation (3.1.3)

Automated Registry and Indexing Systems) (

6.36 The automation of financial, housekeeping, statistical, personnel and similar data in decentralised files has been in effect for some years, and automation is progressively being applied to records of other functions. In the past archival-type data have been preserved in printed reports of cumulated data produced by the computer, but new technology and the extension of computerisation to substantive material and non-routine activities require that the Records Management and Archives unit be involved at the design stage (see also Guideline 6.7).

6.37 Cumulative reports of automated data should be retained only at the longest period at which full information is recorded (such as annual reports), in order to eliminate unnecessary retention of superseded reports.

6.38 Automated indexing of registry correspondence should be made more selective and perceptive to reduce the expense and frustration resulting from unnecessary and irrelevant entries. Registry indexing should be extended wherever feasible to provide cumulative information on matters of frequent reference, such as missions and conferences.

Source Data Automation (

6.39 Accessions of records produced by means of source data automation should be identified, so that the Records Manager/Archivist will be aware that recorded data for verification exists solely on input media, such as punched cards, punched tape, and mark-sensitive forms. Assurances that those media have been fully exploited should be obtained before their destruction is approved.

6.40 Source data automation offers possible applications for records management use in the conduct of record surveys, particularly in field offices, and in compiling data related to holdings, transfer and disposal.

(d) Reprography: Convenience Copying (3.1.4)

6.41 Separation of information copies into temporary files should be encouraged as a deterrent to unnecessary filing (and ultimate weeding) in official files. This should be emphasised in staff manuals and orientation lectures.

6.42 As a means of producing clear copies and discouraging unnecessary use of copying machines, responsibility for the control and monitoring of each copier should be specifically delegated to an individual so that machines will be properly maintained, paper jams reduced and quickly corrected, toner input kept at proper levels, and copyright restrictions observed.

(e) Micrographics (3.1.5)

6.43 The central point for control and co-ordination of microfilming policy and practice throughout an agency should be the Records Management and Archives unit. This will enable it to exercise its responsibility for current, semi-current and non-current records and for making determinations regarding appropriate preservation and accessibility. Arrangements for preparation of COM microforms may be delegated to the offices responsible for computer services, and arrangements for microfilming of printed archives, if appropriate, to the Library or Documents Service responsible. All other microfilming should be centralised within the Records Management and Archives unit. If feasible, an inter-office committee composed of the services concerned would be a useful means for collaboration.

6.44 Careful cost/benefit analyses should precede any decision to microfilm for the purpose of saving space, as previous studies have clearly demonstrated that space saving itself is not a valid reason unless supported by other, more pressing circumstances. Similar analysis should be applied to decisions on whether to set up full or partial microfilming facilities within the organisation or to use contractual services.

6.4.5 Legal Admissibility of Microforms as Evidence

The legal status of microfilm records should be carefully considered before destruction of the originals they are designed to replace, according to studies made of national legislation in force in many countries. Such decisions should be made with the advice of the organisation's legal counsel, as well as subject and technical specialists (

COM Microforms (

6.46 The increasing use of COM microforms in lieu of paper printouts requires that the Records Manager/Archivist be able to make a preliminary evaluation of potential archival value of the end product of such systems at the design stage.

6.47 COM microforms of automated financial and administrative records should be utilised for vital records programmes and security copies wherever relevant.

6.48 Retention of COM microforms as a substitute for historical magnetic tapes for archival purposes should be considered because of the ease of handling and superior reference accessibility of the microforms.

Microfilming of Documents and Publications (

6.49 Microform sets of secretariat printed documentation - preferably microfiche because of its easy accessibility and superior reprographic quality - should be retained in the agency archives and also in the Library's printed archives collection, where applicable. Duplicate items should be produced on diazo film, except for COM microforms, which should be on vesicular film.

6.50 Filming of printed documentation should be performed in-house, if possible, to promote quality control. Developing of film and copying of roll film is often performed more expeditiously and less expensively by contract services, but archival standards must be met in all details.

6.51 Micropublishing

Publications of small organizations, including publicly available documentation of general interest, are generally reproduced more expeditiously for external distribution in microform (with extracts reconstituted on paper or microform) by a commercial firm with worldwide distribution facilities, rather than by the agency itself. This relieves the agency of the expense and responsibility of producing, stocking, and distributing microform copies for public use, and for having to maintain large quantities of paper stocks to fill retrospective orders. A by-product is that the agency itself receives a complementary copy of the microfilmed works and can order extras relatively inexpensively (

Current Records Maintenance (Section 3.2)

(a) Filing Systems (3.2.1)

6.52 Current files should be maintained under central control in designated file stations which relate to major functions or major organisational units (departments or offices) in order to:

(i) prevent fragmenting relevant material;

(ii) eliminate unnecessary duplication;

(iii) specify the preferred location of certain types of information to avoid confusion as to its whereabouts;

(iv) prevent mushrooming of files in subordinate units;

(v) facilitate the disposal of semi-current and non-current records.

Files of subordinate units should be considered working or convenience files, except when they represent specific functions not substantially duplicated elsewhere. Small organisations are generally well served by a central registry to take advantage of trained staff and consistent procedures.

6.53 Classification schemes should have a simple coding scheme and the subject arrangement should be logical and hierarchical to provide room for expansion and for particularisation of subject matter when necessary. The use of an agency-wide classification system for substantive files depends on the character of the agency. Although a uniform classification plan has a theoretical advantage of bringing similar material under the same symbol, regardless of the office of origin, the system usually works best when the classification is consistently applied by a central staff, although even when the files are decentralised the rigidity of the classification and accompanying procedures often fails to accommodate changing patterns of subject matter, variations in amount and type of material, and user preferences. Thus, large organisations which have a broad range of responsibilities and interests (and where a single department is often much larger than a small agency) are generally best served by filing systems specially prepared for each major functional or organisational department or division, as the case may be. Many functions or offices do not need a coded classification, but are adequately served by an alphabetical or a broad category/alphabetical subject system for current reference needs. This puts the burden on the Archivist to draw together subject and other related material from among separate organisational units for future reference.

6.54 Initial separation of correspondence into files of continuing and temporary value reduces the build-up of unnecessary duplication that requires weeding when it becomes semi-current or non-current, and improves the quality of the file by reducing the time spent in searching for essential information.

(b) Filing Equipment and Supplies (3.2.2)

6.55 General criteria in the selection of equipment and supplies are:

(i) use conventional items when practical;

(ii) use non-conventional items only with valid justification;

(iii) compare various types before deciding;

(iv) determine suitability to withstand anticipated volume and weightload;

(v) distinguish between retrieval needs estimated as "urgent and immediate" and "in reasonable time";

(vi) consider availability of rapid delivery facilities, such as conveyors, elevators, or special messenger service;

(vii) ensure security when limited access or physical protection are of prime importance;

6.56 At present, standards for registries and file rooms are based on 4 or 5-drawer metal vertical file cabinets; shelf files of standard 5 to 7 shelves, either open or closed; storage cabinets for a single format or mix of suspended files, document boxes and ring binders; and bookshelves, which are often used for record material as well as books and periodicals. File folders are classified by weight and are chosen according to filing requirements. For registry and other archival material, heavy kraft (18-point) folders with single position tab, centre or off-centre cut, with pre-inserted metal or plastic prongs in the centre fold, and pressure sensitive labels are generally standard. Pressboard folders are used for certain heavy-duty files such as personnel folders, payroll folders, and certain case files.

6.57 Basic types of filing equipment and supplies should be standardised and from the same or compatible manufacturers so that the files will present a uniform appearance, have the same dimensions, and have flexibility for use in other offices and other locations. The choice is governed to a large extent by availability in the locality or area in which the organisation is situated.

Control of Assignment of Filing Equipment and Supplies (

6.58 Standard types of filing equipment and supplies should be chosen as a result of consultation between the Procurement office and Records Management and Archives unit. Basic equipment assigned according to rank and purpose should be determined, and requests for additional equipment and for special supplies (not in stockroom) should be forwarded immediately by the Procurement office to the Records Management and Archives unit for approval.

6.59 A personal investigation by the records management officer should follow to see if space for current material can be made by transferring semi-current or non-current files, reorganising files, or eliminating excess non-record material. As a result, the request is often cancelled or alternatives provided.

6.60 Special filing equipment requested should be assessed in relation to its functional effectiveness and in comparison with similar types or brands to assure suitability. Requests for new types of units for housing non-conventional records should be considered as the basis for selecting potentially standard units for such material.

6.61 On the basis of experience in assigning equipment and of data acquired from record surveys, the Records Management and Archives unit should make annual recommendations for anticipated equipment requirements for the following year to aid the Procurement office in making budget projections.

(c) Vital Records Programmes and Security Copies (3.2.3)

6.62 Vital records programmes are designed to deposit at an off-site location copies of records (chiefly in microform, supplemented by selected historical magnetic tapes and quick reference aids in paper form), which have been designated essential to reconstruct and continue the operations of the agency, and to protect its organisational interests, in the event of a disaster or an emergency affecting the conduct of business at the headquarters site. The Records Management and Archives units of agencies having such programmes have responsibility for their management, including assembling data from offices of origin, preparing microforms as necessary, organising the material according to a microform code arranged by type and record series, keeping account of material on deposit to facilitate reference, and carrying out procedures for keeping the information current on at least a monthly basis, including eliminating superseded data.

6.63 Security copies are generally by-product microforms of records and documentation prepared for other purposes, which are deposited in an outside location as a safeguard in case of damage to the originals or to the microform master. Historical documents are also microfilmed for this purpose. Although security microfilm normally contains documentation of cultural, scientific and research value, rather than data specifically related to institutional obligations and continuity, pertinent record series could be incorporated into a vital records programme or vice versa, if desired.

6.64 The Records Management and Archives unit is the natural agent for managing either or both a vital records programme and a security collection as part of its normal functions.

Record Surveys (Section 4.1)

6.65 General agency-wide surveys of record holdings in offices should be made at approximately five year intervals to provide a profile of existing resources; to identify semi-current and non-current records that should be transferred to the record centre/archives; to select records series for which schedules should be established; to discover needs for files improvement; to pinpoint cases of inappropriate use of equipment; and to establish closer working relationships between the Records Management and Archives unit and decentralised offices. Information should be solicited by means of printed forms circulated to each office; the departmental administrative assistant (if appropriate) should act as liaison for collecting data, although individual offices should also be encouraged to seek assistance direct from the records management staff. The survey report is the primary source checked in investigating requests for additional equipment, in order to spur transfers and disposals. General surveys should be preceded by a circular from the head or deputy head of the agency announcing the purpose, procedure, time period for response, and dates for progress and final reports to management on the results.

6.66 Ad hoc surveys made in response to requests for files assistance, negotiations for disposal and for scheduling of recurrent records, and in connection with staff reorganisations and transfers are means of updating basic information in the general survey. Prompt response to requests for files assistance is imperative for establishing effective relationships between the Records Management and Archives unit and agency offices.

Retention and Disposal (Section 4.2)

6.67 All housekeeping and similar routine administrative, financial and other facilitative records should be scheduled for recurrent transfer and disposal in agreement with the originating office. Schedules in force at UN Headquarters should be circulated, when relevant, to various organs for use as authority for disposal or as guides, as well as means of convincing doubting officials as to the normalcy of such procedures. Specialised and associated agencies and, when appropriate, separate bodies should prepare their own schedules and disposal lists that relate to their particular records and to their own reference use, but the UN schedules may be referred to as guides. It is understood, however, that retention periods required in one agency do not necessarily fit the needs of another agency.

6.68 Disposal authorisations for both recurrent records (schedules) and single accumulations (disposal lists) should be signed by the Archivist and the head of the responsible programme or functional unit, no lower than a division or service or the equivalent. Informal negotiations and preliminary agreement should precede preparation and signature of the formal authorisation form. Disposal authorisations for financial records subject to audit should be cleared and countersigned by the Internal Auditor and, if appropriate, the Controller. In cases of doubt about relevant national statutes of limitations regarding liability for legal action, the Legal Department should be consulted.

6.69 Duplicate copies of facilitative forms used for information by more than one office may be authorised for destruction after immediate need has passed on the basis of the existence of the record copy, which has the longest retention life.

6.70 Working files of organisational sub-units (i.e. in addition to the designated departmental file station, such as divisions, sections and below) and of professional staff, which contain only occasional unique material of lasting value, may be transferred to the record centre/archives for two or three years before destruction in order to assuage any personal apprehension about future reference needs. The records should be weeded before destruction and archival material integrated in the central registry files or official file station as the case may be. Disposal authorisation for this class of material is included in the authorised schedule by some agencies; in others, a special form may be used to record approval by the staff member or office concerned to the Archivist's recommendation that the files be destroyed as containing no archival material and having no further reference value.

6.71 Guidelines for retention of decentralised office administrative and informational files (generally non-record and non-archival) should be issued for the information of secretaries and administrative assistants who are responsible for those files. The guidelines should include instructions concerning retention standards for printed reports, agency periodicals and publications, and secretariat documents in order to limit their accumulation.

Destruction Methods (4.2.1)

6.72 Destruction of sensitive material should be performed at a central designated point, bagged, and destroyed according to methods agreed by the Archivist with Building Services and Security officers. Institutional size shredders, set at the narrowest width, and with cross-cutting to prevent reconstruction, or disintegrators should be used in preference to small machines that require tearing documents apart and removing metal fasteners. When, in exceptional cases, a satellite building is allowed to have a shredder, usage should be under control of the Building Services unit in co-operation with the Archivist.

6.73 For the highest security, senior officials should be instructed to send very sensitive material in double envelopes or sealed cartons by courier or special messenger to the Records Management and Archives unit, which will monitor destruction. Offices having a high volume of confidential waste, such as computer printouts containing preliminary economic or financial data, should make special arrangements with the messenger service for direct pick-ups and delivery to the destroying machines.

6.74 Sales of waste paper for recycling should be arranged as a conservation measure when feasible. Special canisters should be placed in offices to separate recycleable paper from ordinary waste. Material should be moved directly by dumpster from the compactor to the recycling firm under controlled arrangements to prevent inadvertent scattering.

6.75 Destruction of microfilm, photographic negatives, metal printing plates, etc., should be subject to recovery of reusable metals, when feasible.

Appraisal Criteria (Section 4.3)

6.76 Appraisal criteria are applied primarily in accordance with the characteristics of the material:

(a) by type - administrative and other housekeeping records which are evaluated by function;

(b) by content - programme and project records, for their evidential and informational values;

(c) by historical and legal importance - charter, bye-laws, agreements with Member States, other organisations and corporate bodies, budgets and organisational documents, ruling decisions and directives, documentation of governing and subordinate bodies and complementary groups;

(d) by physical properties - audiovisual, cartographic, architectural and engineering drawings, machine-readable records, printed records, in terms of functional, evidential and informational value, as appropriate to their format.

6.77 Records should be appraised at two stages:

(a) preliminary evaluation of their functional value as semi-current or non-current records with respect to periods recommended for their continuing administrative, fiscal, legal and reference use, which is made at the time retention schedules are established with the originating office or when records are transferred to the record centre/archives;

(b) archival evaluation of their evidential and informational value for long-term or permanent retention at the time of final disposal and designation as archives, with further consideration as to retention in the original form or in microform, and whether sampling of typical record series will be sufficient evidence for archival purposes of certain voluminous types of records.

6.78 Archives are generally found at the upper levels of the organisational hierarchy, where policies and decisions are formulated, and with expert advisors and consultants.

6.79 Since appraisal criteria cannot be applied to exact standards and their relative values differ from organisation to organisation, determinations of archival value are also subject to change in the light of changing conditions and changing values over time. Consequently, a careful and consistently applied reappraisal of certain archival holdings should be held at approximately 10 to 20 year intervals to review the validity of the original designation in the light of present-day concepts and experience, or to decide whether microfilm reproductions would be adequate replacements.

6.80 Sampling

This method is used to preserve selected segments of certain record series, usually bulky and extensive in volume, which have archival interest, not for content, but because they illustrate procedures for dealing with certain routine activities or complement the internal structure of a function which has been summarised in reports and statistics (4.3.2).

Record Centre/Archives (Section 4.4)

6.81 The purpose of a record centre is to provide in less expensive space and equipment a central repository for the intermediate maintenance of semi-current records no longer required for active use in offices but which have continuing institutional value for varying periods. In UN agencies the record centre function is combined with the archives.

6.82 The duties of the record centre/archives comprise arranging for transfer of semi-current and non-current records from offices, either scheduled or special accumulations; preparation of accession reports, attaching lists of material transferred and finding aids, if any, supplied by the originating office; preliminary appraisal of retention value, in consultation with the office of origin; boxing, labelling, shelving, and servicing of holdings in accordance with restrictions on access placed by the office of origin; preparation of shelf list and other locator information, and a "tickler" or reminder card file on dates for action on each record series, including notification to offices of impending scheduled transfers and destruction; and carrying out authorised disposal.

6.83 Automation afforded by data processing or computer services available should be utilised whenever possible in the preparation of shelf lists and space rationalisation, notification of impending transfers and disposals, data on holdings, and preparation of finding aids, in order to facilitate and expedite service.

6.84 Record/centre archives staff should maintain active co-operation with Building Services staff, as well as offices where records originate and are maintained, in order to be alerted to lapses in normal procedures for transferring non-current records, to unauthorised destruction of records, or careless handling of security classified material.

Transfer and Accessioning of Archives (Section 5.1)

6.85 The principle of inviolability and inalienability of an agency's records should be firmly implanted in agency practice. Every means should be taken to create staff awareness of the relevant executive and administrative directives and to exercise vigilance in seeing that they are carried out.

6.86 The Records Manager/Archivist should be given advance notification by the Personnel Office of impending staff separations by means of a routine cheek-off form prepared in connection with close of service. Thus, personal contact can be made with the departing staff member with regard to regulations against removal of records and documents, including copies of a person's own writings and related material. In exceptional cases, permission to remove any copies of record material should be authorised in each case by the Archivist and, when necessary, by the agency executive or the department head -concerned, in accordance with stated policy.

6.87 A clear distinction should be made between record centre and archives holdings, even though they may be in the same location and serviced by the same staff. Separate identification and reporting of accessions may not be practical for the archives of small agencies, particularly when the material is not open to public access and the extent of archival holdings is limited. For records that are or expected to be open to outside researchers, the archives holdings are identified by symbols denoting record (archive) group and record series, corresponding to their arrangement. When necessary, the material is finally arranged in archives containers, relabelled, and reshelved. Those processing activities, as well as reference and research services, are reported separately. Frequently there are time lags in the transfer of repository holdings to archival status, however, because of the necessity for weeding, organization of material, and preparation of finding aids.

Recovery of Alienated Official Records and Acquisition of "Private" Papers and Related Non-Institutional Archives (Section 5.2)

6.88 When alienated papers are restored to the originating organisation after a hiatus in custody, their former status and filing place are not restored. Such records should be placed separately, but next to, if possible, the related records series and cross references should be inserted, with explanation, in all relevant finding aids and in the original filing place.

6.89 The acquisition by the agency's Archives of "private" papers of former heads and senior officials of organisations or persons who played a prominent role in their history is useful for institutional research because of the description of factors surrounding decisions and events in agency history and because official papers are often discovered in the collection. When those collections have been deposited irrevocably in other organisations, microfilm copies should be obtained by the Archives if desirable for reference, preferably as a courtesy or with official or private funding.

6.90 Gifts and loans (preferably with the right of the organisation to make microfilm copies) should be accompanied by legal documents clearly stating the relationship between donor and recipient, restrictions on access, and literary property rights.

6.91 The same rules of access applying to agency Archives should apply to acquired collections unless the conveyance arrangements stipulate otherwise. The identity of acquired collections should be preserved intact, with their own finding aids, although they should be cross-referenced in the agency's finding aids and included in its archival bibliographies.

Archival Integrity and Arrangement (Section 5.3)

6.92 The archival integrity of separate agencies and separate bodies, including boards, committees, and working groups or task forces, and of discreet conferences, assemblies, meetings, and symposia, should be preserved according to provenance.

6.93 The weeding and elimination of duplication, extraneous material, and routine material of transitory informational value is necessary prior to archival arrangement.

6.94 Archival arrangement may be by the traditional system of record groups, sub-groups and records series according to the agency hierarchical organisational pattern, which is accessed by subject indexes, descriptive inventories and special finding aids. An alternative method is the "total information" subject arrangement of intraorganisational substantive records by an integrated classification plan (which is to a large extent self-indexing), with collateral selective indexing. The method depends on the characteristics of the organisation - its size and range of interests; the volume and preponderant type of records (operational, case and project file, or policy and research); and user requirements - urgent institutional access or general research. Thus, a uniform system of arrangement would not be feasible for all UN organisations.

6.95 A record group (also known as archive group) generally corresponds to a single organisation, department, field mission or task force, or an independent body. Thus a small organisation may be considered a record group, and its central registry and decentralised functional files as records series thereunder.

6.96 Symbols for identification of archives differ among agencies. A commonly-used system consists of the initials or acronym of the record group and sub-group, plus an assigned number to indicate records series. Some agencies, which do not allow public access to their archives, continue to use the accession number initially assigned at time of transfer.

Finding Aids (Section 5.4)

6.97 The traditional archival finding aid is the descriptive inventory. In UN agencies, this generally incorporates the list of folders prepared by the originating office (often amplified by the record centre) and attached to the accession report. At the record group level, it also includes a brief administrative history of the organisation or major body. Other finding aids include central registry and departmental file classification plans and item or folder indexes. Subject indexes and subject bibliographies of related material within various record groups or record series are required to facilitate reference. A printed agency guide, in leaflet form, to the resources and procedures for access to archives often includes lists of major record groups and sub-groups available for research. For archives open to public use, descriptions of resources in printed guides, such as the Guide to Archives of International Organisations, and general publications containing bibliographies of archival and library sources available for research are important means for bringing agency information resources to public attention.

Automation: Application to Archives (Section 5.5)

6.98 The application of word processors and computers to the preparation of inventories and subject indexes should be studied and undertaken whenever possible to save unnecessary routine work. Systems now in use in some record centres for listing the status of holdings are easily carried over to archives use, when the holdings are identified separately. Computer-assisted indexing with reference on-line or on printout is an invaluable means of facilitating access. In that connection, the archives should not be reluctant to convert library skills to archival procedures by adding professional librarians or library-trained archivists to the staff. Software packages, such as SPINDEX and others, should be utilised insofar as possible to facilitate reference access and for administrative control.

Access and Restrictions on Use (Section 5.6)

6.99 Public access to the archives of international organisations should be given in most cases after a maximum general delay of 30 years, except for specific cases where a longer period would be necessary. The exceptions to the 30-year rule would be for records relating to national, regional and international security and defence; records containing business, financial or other economic information of individual nations, firms, or establishments submitted in confidence to the organisation; and personnel records containing information concerning the physical or mental health of individuals, and other information the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

6.100 Automatic declassification of security-classified records after the expiry of specified retention periods should be practiced whenever possible. In other cases, a decision should be made on the recommendation of the Archivist by the head of the organisation, by designated senior officials (e.g. department heads or deputies), or, in exceptional cases, by an ad hoc committee appointed by the head of the organisation.

Research Services and Facilities (5.6.3)

6.101 Access to the agency archives by outside researchers should be accompanied by precise regulations to ensure the serious purpose of the request, understanding of the conditions for use of the archives, and protection of the material from harm or loss. Rules for access and a description of research services and resources should be available in printed form to all potential researchers.

6.102 The Archivist is responsible for seeing that the searcher has access, without favour or privilege, to all relevant records open to the public and that finding aids and adequate work facilities are available. Precautions should be taken to protect the physical condition and integrity of the records consulted and to see that regulations regarding use, citation of sources, submission of manuscript and/or notes (if required), and deposit of the finished work are observed.

Publication of Archival Material (Section 5.7)

6.103 The Archivist should co-operate with the publications staff in ensuring that publications contain authentic texts and related material and should, when possible, prepare indexes and annotations to historical publications. Recommendations for publication of important collections of records - in paper or microform - should be made to promote research and to mark commemorative occasions.

Storage and Security (Section 5.8)

(a) Space Allocation (5.8.1):

6.104 Buildings used as archives repositories should be considered in terms of location, accessibility to public transportation, fire and security protective services, and adequacy of structure and facilities.

6.105 Measures should be taken regarding records space in buildings not purpose-built to ensure the security and preservation of archives, including climate controls, lighting, fire safety and guard services, and optimum working conditions for staff.

6.106 Purpose-built archives buildings should be considered for eventual use, particularly in the context of archival services for related organisations within regional locations.

(b) Furnishings and Equipment (5.8.2)

6.107 Comparisons of available types should precede decisions to purchase equipment for new installations, for non-conventional records, or to save space. This should be accomplished by visits to installations of such equipment, and review of technical literature prepared by professional organisations or national archives institutions, which are active in research for the establishment of standards.

6.108 Adequacy and proximity of service facilities, replacement parts, and consumable supplies are important considerations in choosing equipment.

6.109 Careful assessment of needs and purposes of the equipment and furnishings to be secured should be made in order to avoid costly mistakes. Considerations include multiple-use factors so that the equipment can be transferred to other offices when filing needs change, add-on elements for new files, durability to withstand moves and heavy use, and ease of assembling and disassembling (e.g. shelf files) when necessary. Over-stocking of equipment should be avoided because of changing patterns of records, resulting from technological changes, on the types of equipment in use.

Preservation and Restoration (Section 5.9)

6.110 Regional workshops for UN agencies should be organised by the ICA Committee on Conservation and Restoration and Unesco, beginning with tropical areas which have the greatest need, for the training of archivists in preventive preservation and in restoration technique.

6.111 Regional laboratories should be established, when necessary, to service the needs of a group of agencies. A UN agency which has substantial need for such a facility or a conveniently located national archival institution should provide services to other organisations on a reimbursable basis. Commercial firms having a proven record of satisfactory experience and reasonable prices should be utilised, if available.

6.112 Staff from agencies, which have need of preservation services, should be assigned to work/training or to observe restoration techniques used on their own files.

Archival Reprography (Section 5 . 10)

6.113 Microfilming, photocopying, photography and recorded sound should be considered in terms of:

- prime objectives - reference, preservation, exhibits, records management or security;

- scope - electrostatic or xerographic, micrographic, photographic, sound recording processes;

- cost/effectiveness - evaluation of alternative methods;

- operating facilities - by agency staff or by contractual services;

- maintenance of standards for materials, processing and preservation established by relevant professional media organisations and standards institutes (not necessarily as recommended by manufacturers or vendors) and enforcing effective quality controls

6.114 Responsibilities for preservation and reference availability include periodic examination of microfilm for ageing blemishes; re-recording of audio tapes on permanent master tape; re-recording of magnetic tapes at least every 10 years; photocopying individual documents on acid-free permanent/durable paper and microfilming series of documents in order to preserve the contents of deteriorating originals, either as substitutes (if the originals do not have intrinsic historical importance) or as supplements to protect them from wear and tear.

Exhibits and Other Educational and Cultural Services (Section 5.11)

6.115 Exhibits of documents and artifacts from the Archives and from current audiovisual accumulations in functional offices should be placed on view in public areas of the headquarters building in connection with special conference and to commemorate special events as a means of stimulating the interest of visitors in the work of the agency and broadening their cultural awareness. The Archivist should also co-operate with other offices concerned in preparing descriptive material for that purpose.

6.116 The Archivist can also co-operate in promoting public interest in the agency and an understanding of its policies by providing background material for the holding of symposia and seminars for selected scholars or topical specialists.

6.117 The Archivist should be responsible for seeing that documents are exhibited under proper atmospheric and lighting conditions, that security safeguards are adequate, and that display methods will not damage the material.

6.118 Archivists should co-operate with other organisations and educational and research institutions by participating in professional discussions of mutual interest and by collaborating in

, joint endeavours to focus attention on the research resources and accomplishments of international agencies.

Klaus B Hendriks


The purpose of the present study is to summarise the currently available knowledge on the preservation and restoration of photographic materials that may serve as a reference guide to maintaining, preserving and restoring photographic collections.

The existence of large quantities of photographic records in archives and libraries has created problems of preserving these records that are, to some degree, comparable to conventional paper objects, but also have special requirements due to their particular nature. The present study aims at outlining the principal photographic processes and describing the characterisation and identification of photographic images. It will discuss the factors that affect the stability of photographic materials, the examination of photographic records and the analysis of their deterioration. The duplication of black-and-white negatives and the copying of positive reflection prints will be explained as an important means of preserving photographic images. Such copy photographs must be processed in such a way as to obtain records of maximum possible permanence, and procedures will be outlined to achieve this. A second principal requirement is the prevention of damage and deterioration of photographic materials by keeping them in carefully controlled storage conditions which are conducive to their longevity. Once deterioration has occurred, however, it is sometimes possible to correct the errors of the past through restoration procedures which will also be outlined. Finally, some procedures for testing both the stability of contemporary photographic materials and the suitability of materials used in the conservation of photographs will be discussed.

The emphasis will be on black-and-white photographic materials based on the light sensitivity of silver halides whose image-forming substance, therefore, consists of elementary silver. Monochrome reflection prints made by non-silver processes, such as platinum and other carbon prints, or pictures containing certain metal salts and other pigments will also be mentioned. The scope of this study includes the preservation of contemporary colour photographic materials made by processes such as chromogenic development, silver dye bleach, dye imbibition and dye diffusion transfer (such as instant colour photographs).


11.1 General

The present study has emphasised the structure of photographic materials and their properties in terms of stability in order to create an understanding of the subsequent recommendations for preservation and storage. After accessioning and cataloguing, the overriding factors determining the longevity of these records are control of relative humidity, air pollution, temperature and exposure to light. The choice of a suitable filing enclosure is of crucial importance to the preservation of negatives and prints, as they are in direct contact with it. Original photographs, when used, should be handled in a sensible way as carelessness can cause irreversible damage. Ink must never be used to write on the back of photographic prints. If unique and valuable photographs are in high demand by users, duplicate or copy negatives should be made for use, while the originals are retired to inactive storage. Several conservation techniques developed for works of art on paper can be applied successfully to photographs. The restoration of discoloured or faded black-and-white negatives and prints remains of an experimental nature, but its further development will surely lead to firm procedures. The destruction of organic dyes in colour photographs through oxidation or hydrolysis is thought to be irreversible, and such pictures can be saved only by placing them into cold storage and by making duplicate copies.

The conservation of photographs is still a young field which does not have the body of knowledge available in older, more established fields, such as fine art conservation. While the testing of materials and experimental work have increased our knowledge of the stability of photographic materials during the past decade, many problems remain unsolved, but which will eventually become understood. Progress in the field is signalled by a number of recent events and developments, such as: the involvement of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as well as the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) in formulating specifications for the storage of processed photographic records; the investigation of the occurrence of redox blemishes in processed microfilms; the emergence of cold storage conditions as an immediate solution to the dark storage instability of chromogenic colour materials; the thorough investigations into the stability of resin-coated papers; the mechanism of image silver deterioration; the development of emergency procedures for photographs following a natural disaster; and the occurrence of seminars, workshops and conferences on the subject, such as the International Symposium on "The Stability and Preservation of Photographic Images", which was held in the fall 1982 in Ottawa, Canada, and sponsored by the Society of Photographic Scientists and Engineers (SPSE). The majority of problems in the preservation of photographic collections is under control. The quest for solutions to the remaining ones promises to be both exciting and rewarding.

11.2 Specific Recomendations

11.2.1 Identification:

Only complex scientific examination can replace extensive experience in visually recognising types of photographs. Simple and inexpensive experimental techniques include testing the surface in non-image areas of photographs with alcohol and water, and looking at the surface of photographs through a light microscope. While gelatin swells under a water droplet, neither collodion nor albumen react to it. Alcohol dissolves collodion, but leaves a gelatin layer unaffected. Albumen layers react with neither water nor alcohol.

11.2.2 Storage Conditions: Relative Humidity:

Relative humidity is the single most important factor affecting the permanence of photographic records. It must never exceed 60% in storage areas. The optimum storage relative humidity varies with the product type. A level of 35 to 40% is recommended as the value which best accommodates different kinds of photographic materials. Such level should be kept constant, i.e. daily or weekly cycling is to be avoided.

11.2.3 Storage Conditions: Temperature:

Photographic records must be stored at a temperature preferably not above 21C (70F). Daily or weekly cycling of more than 4C must be avoided.

11.2.4 Storage Conditions: Lower Temperature Storage:

Low temperature will provide added protection. For colour film, a storage temperature of 2C (35F) is recommended. However, processed photographic materials can be kept at temperatures well below the freezing point of water (0C; 32F), provided the relative humidity is kept at recommended levels.

11.2.5 Storage Conditions: Air Purity:

Chemically reactive materials pose the greatest threat to the stability of black-and-white photographic collections, especially in the presence of moisture. The source of such chemicals can be the surrounding atmosphere, the photograph itself, residual processing chemicals and materials in direct contact with the photographs. They should be stored in a pollution-free area, i.e. in the absence of sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, peroxides and other oxidising agents.

11.2.6 Storage Conditions: Dust:

Photographs of all kinds should be stored in dust-free areas, as fine sand and dust may become embedded into gelatin layers and cause damage by abrasion.

11.2.7 Storage Conditions: light levels:

Well processed contemporary black-and-white photographs are essentially stable to light. By comparison, colour photographic materials are rather sensitive to long-term light exposure in the presence of oxygen and moisture. This should, however, not prevent a problem in storage, as photographs are usually kept in sleeves, boxes or albums and thus are protected from light exposure. Storage Conditions: Filing Enclosures:

The correct choice of filing enclosures - sleeves or envelopes - can be made of paper or plastic materials. Paper enclosures are more difficult to evaluate. They should have a high alpha-cellulose content (preferably 90%), contain no mobile ashesives or sizes and have an extraction pH of between 6.5 and 7.5. Plastic enclosures should be made of uncoated polyethylene, uncoated cellulose acetate or polyester. For cold storage purposes a heat sealable envelope can be used that consists of a laminate of polyethylene, aluminium foil and paper. As it is not easily possible to write on most plastic materials, photographic negative and prints are placed ideally first into a plastic sleeve, which is then put into a paper envelope. The photograph can be looked at while remaining in its transparent enclosure, while all necessary information can be written on the envelope.

11.2.9 Storage Conditions: Inherently Unstable Materials:

Cellulose nitrate film base is the most prominent example of a material which can itself be the source of contaminating chemicals. As these materials can also be a fire hazard, they are to be stored separately from other photographic records. Apart from using the time consuming and labour intensive technique of emulsion transfer, cellulose nitrate film materials are best duplicated onto safety stock. They can be sealed in appropriate envelopes described earlier and kept in cold storage in order to provide temporary protection.

11.2.10 Storage Conditions: Boxes & Shelves:

Photographs in filling enclosures are normally kept in boxes on shelves. Boxes should be made of stable cardboard materials having properties similar to those described for paper envelopes. Stable boxes are available in North America which are made of stainless steel which is covered with an electrostatically applied polyester coating.

11.2.11 Processing of Contemporary Photographs:

Best results, in terms of permanence of the resultant image, are obtained by following meticulously the recommendations of the respective manufacturer. Certain residual chemicals must not be allowed to remain on the film or photograph. Recent materials may require toning as a post-processing treatment to achieve permanence.

11.2.12 Handling of Photographs:

When handling valuable photographs, white lintless cotton gloves should be worn in order to avoid producing finger-prints. These impressions, unless removed immediately, may cause irreversible damage to a gelatin-coated photograph.

11.2.13 Housekeeping

When working with photographs, no food or drinks should be tolerated in their vicinity. For reasons of keeping a clean, dust-free environment, smoking is not allowed in areas where photographic materials are handled.

11.2.14 Marking of Photographic Prints:

Information about a photographic print must never be written on it in ink, neither front nor back. In the occurrence of a flood, the ink may transfer onto the image side of the next photograph in a stacked pile, and become itself illegible in the process. If any information has to be written at all on a print, a soft pencil can be used. Applying too much pressure, however, may cause the writing to become visibly imprinted on the image side.

11.2.15 Display:

The two important choices which have to be made in the display of photographic prints are the selection of mount board and appropriate light levels. The former should have a high alpha-cellulose content, free of lignin and volatile chemicals. Smith (184) has published specifications for materials to be used in matting and hinging of works of art on paper, as well as techniques for these activities. Light levels for colour photographs on display should be kept around 100 lux. Normal display times, however, ranging from a few weeks to perhaps several months, are not expected to cause excessive damage to most type of colour photographs. Such damage usually occurs when chromogenically developed prints are exposed to light for many years, as often occurs in typical home and office situations.

11.2.16 Emergency Procedures:

If photographic materials become water-soaked following a natural disaster, they can be frozen in order to slow down dramatically further deterioration. Materials can then be freeze dried, or thawed and dried in a vacuum, or thawed and air dried. Glass plate negatives made by the wet collodion process should not be frozen and under no circumstances be freeze dried.

11.2.17 Fumigation:

Recent experiments have shown (185) that most photographic materials can be exposed to common fumigants without suffering changes to image density or gelatin stability. The fumigants include ethylene oxide, methyl bromide, thymol and p-dichlorobenzene.

11.2.18 Printing, Duplication and Copying:

Photographs are collected and preserved in order to be used for many purposes. Negatives are printed to provide positive reflection images. Valuable historical negatives which are in high demand may suffer from continued use and handling. They can be duplicated to produce faithful duplicate negatives for further use. Unique photographic prints can be copied with a camera to give copy negatives from which correct copy prints can be obtained. To perform these activities well, an understanding of photographic technology and sensitometry is required.

11.2.19 Restoration:

Many kinds of deterioration can be corrected through the application of restoration techniques. It is useful to remember, however, that such work should be attempted only be trained conservators. In any experimental work, where the outcome is unknown, only expendable photographic materials must be used.

Y P Kathpalia


1.1 A worldwide survey in 1976-1977 of facilities for the preservation and restoration of archives showed that most countries lack facilities for this work. The survey also revealed a desire amongst custodians of archives to preserve their holdings on modern scientific lines, to develop facilities for preservation and restoration work, and to train their staff in modern procedures for carrying out the work scientifically and successfully. In addition, the survey identified countries where facilities for training are available.

Training Facilities

1.2 Europe and North America have reasonably adequate facilities for training. A few associations like the Society of Archivists in the United Kingdom and the Society of American Archivists in the United States of America have also taken up the task of training persons wanting to join and also for those working in the profession. In the private sector, schools like the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London, conduct courses for two to three years. There are a number of such training centres in developed countries. Various archives services conduct in-service training for persons deputed by archives services in developing countries.

1.3 Among the training centres identified in developing countries are the School of Archival Studies of the National Archives of India, New Delhi; the School for Archivists at Cordoba in Argentina; and the two regional centres operating in Africa - one at Accra in Ghana, for Anglophone countries, and the other at Dakar in Senegal, for Francophone countries; both schools were set up with the aid of Unesco.

1.4 It is only at the School of Archival Studies, New Delhi, that facilities for training in both preservation and restoration are available for specialists as well as for technicians. The curriculum for these courses has developed over the years and is based not only upon needs of archives and the archival profession, but also on the experience gained in training in developing countries.


1.5 Large numbers of documents in developing countries are in an advanced state of deterioration due to climatic factors, internal degradation, catastrophes, improper handling, poorly designed storage areas, use of untested materials - which have done more harm than good to documents - and lack of trained staff.

1.6 There are instances in a number of countries where the trained staff have either made no efforts regarding preventive preservation of records, or else have become complacent because of lack of facilities and paucity of trained technicians. The result is for all to see. Archives have deteriorated to such an extent that they break upon being touched, storage areas remain full of dust and infested with insects, and fungus spores lie dormant awaiting favourable conditions for growth and infestation.

1.7 Another serious problem is the use of untested materials for repair by trained technicians in the absence of standardization and testing facilities. For example, some of the materials, techniques and equipment commercially available have done and can do more harm than good to documents, thereby affecting their longevity. Those that are suspect are sprays used for consolidation, i.e. resizing and strengthening; the wide range of synthetic adhesives, specially those containing polyvinyl chloride; adhesive-coated tissues (a large variety of these are on the market as a result of the rise in prices of products based upon petroleum); folders and boxes not made of acid-free materials; materials of inferior quality intended for use in restoration, such as rosin-sized paper, tissue paper, improperly formulated cellulose acetate film, etc.; and felt pens and pressure-sensitive tapes.

1.8 All of these have added to the problems of preservation and restoration, which can only be solved by the standardization of materials and procedures, equipment, methodology and training of staff, based upon a curriculum that meets the basic needs for preservation and restoration.

Aims of Study

1.9 The primary aim of this study thus is to suggest a training programme based upon a curriculum which will provide a scientific approach to both preservation and restoration work for the persons employed in or likely to be engaged by archives for this purpose.

The initial emphasis will be on preventive preservation rather than on restoration, for such preservation not only helps prolong the keeping qualities of the documents and other archival materials, but also saves on cost. The difference between preventive preservation and restoration in terms of cost is in the ratio of 1:10 per document sheet.

1.10 The study also proposes to standardise well-known techniques and to provide impetus for the supervisory staff to develop new processes or experiment with new techniques with a view to adapting them for particular requirements. Such a step is necessary in view of the varying conditions and types of documents, of the materials on which documents are composed, and of the availability of equipment and chemicals.

1.11 Preservation and restoration facilities need planning to get better results. The staff of the school of archival agencies should have knowledge of management techniques for planning adequate facilities, for procuring equipment and materials, and for adapting the new methodology that has been developed and is available or is likely to be developed in the near future. Above all the staff should be equipped to devise plans to counteract emergencies that may arise, instead of being overpowered by disasters such as the Florence floods, earthquakes, fire, etc. The training and the curriculum upon which it is based should ensure:

a) preservation to minimise the degradation of archive materials, i.e. proper preventive preservation;

b) restoration on scientific lines with a view to reinforcing documents with utmost speed and at a relative low cost; and

c) standardized methodology to ensure that the trained technicians carry out the required procedures on scientific lines.


4.1 A recent survey of facilities for preservation and restoration reveals that archivists in developing countries are aware of the need for such facilities. Vast qualities of documents in developing countries are in an advanced state of deterioration and need immediate attention on scientific lines. In some cases the damage has been done because of use of materials of doubtful values and of wrong techniques (paragraphs 1.1 - 1.7).

4.2 There is a serious need to standardise the preservation techniques as far as methodology is concerned, to promote the use of tested and approved materials, and to provide impetus for supervisory staffs to develop new processes or experiment with new techniques and adapt them to their own needs. All these objectives could be promoted through greater harmonisation of the training programmes in the information field. In addition, it is essential to plan and develop specialised facilities for preservation and restoration, and to train the persons deployed for such work in archives, libraries and other information centres (paragraphs 1.8 - 1.13).

4.3 However, it is not desirable to establish training schools with inadequate programmes or at places where adequate funds and facilities are not available. Control over the curriculum and its division into various topics should be with the school or centre where the training is arranged (paragraphs 2.4 - 2.6).

4.4 In the beginning training could be associated with the ICA Regional Branches, viz. ALA, ARBICA, CARBICA, CENARBICA, ECARBICA, PARBICA, SARBICA SWARBICA and WARBICA. Adequate training facilities in some of these regional areas already exist (paragraph 2.12).

4.5 The training, in addition to turning out trained staff, should ensure that trained persons are able to carry out their respective jobs (paragraph 2.15).

4.6 The curriculum envisaged is twofold:

(a) for specialists, i.e. graduates who work as supervisors to organise facilities and guide staff where necessary; and

(b) for technicians, i.e. non-graduate staff who actually carry out the preservation and restoration work (paragraph 3.1).


THEORY 50 hours

(i) Introduction to preservation and restoration.

(ii) Material basis of documents, including microfilms, tapes and other audio-visual materials.

(iii) Preventive preservation.

(iv) Storage - various types.

(v) Shelving and storage environment.

(vi) Buildings - stress on existing ones for scientific preservation.

(vii) Importance of standardization in preservation work.

(viii) First aid following disasters - flood, fire, etc.

(ix) Health and safety in the workshop.

(x) Restoration - various techniques and methodology.

(xi) Binding of repaired documents and rebinding.

(xii) Cost comparison of various processes.

(xiii) Planning of a preservation unit.

(xiv) Seminars (five or six on the above topics (paragraphs 3.5 - 3.19).


(i) Fumigation techniques.

(ii) Cleaning - manual and mechanical.

(iii) Identification of components of paper.

(iv) Determination of acidity.

(v) Deacidification.

(vi) Resizing and flattening

(vii) Restoration - traditional and modern encapsulation and leaf-casting.

(viii) Binding of repaired documents and rebinding.

(ix) Mounting of maps and charts.

(x) Deciphering of faded documents.

(xi) Operation of various equipment (paragraphs 3.21 - 3.31)


(i) Use of insecticides, fungicides and fumigation processes.

(ii) Cleaning - vacuum and otherwise.

(iii) Deacidification.

(iv) Resizing and flattening.

(v) Preparation of adhesives.

(vi) Restoration of documents on paper, parchment and vellum, palm leaf, birch bark.

(vii) Restoration of seals; mounting of maps, charts, etc.

(viii) Binding of repaired documents and rebinding.

(ix) Preparation of jackets; document boxes.

(x) Labelling of boxes.

(xi) Preparation of exhibits for display.

(xii) Arrangements and storage of records in boxes; in cabinets; on shelves.

(xiii) Handling of microforms.

(xv) Operation of equipment (paragraphs 3.32 - 3.45).

4.7 After completion of the course(s), training should continue, specially in case of technicians, as in-service training in the concerned institutions. Such a programme would help create confidence in technicians, help them to handle difficult jobs and enable them to turn out quality work (paragraph 3.46).

Rosemary Seton


1.1 This study was prepared for the Records and Archives Management Programme of Unesco's Division of the General Information Programme under a contract with the International Council of Archives. It is based upon a survey of the current situation in selected Member states of Unesco, regarding the acquisition, preservation, arrangement, description and access to the principal categories of private archives, including those of business and labour organizations, universities and colleges, religious organisations, cultural and scientific institutions, estates and families. The findings of the survey are analysed to determine trends, needs and problems, with special reference to the needs of developing countries. The study concludes with recommendations for actions at the international level to assist in ensuring more comprehensive and effective preservation and administration of private archives. Appended is an annotated bibliography of writings used and consulted in the preparation of this study

1.2 Data for the study were gathered through the use of a Questionnaire which is reproduced in the Appendix. Copies of the Questionnaire were sent to 65 institutions, records offices, libraries and museums thought to have holdings of private archives and manuscripts. One may conclude that the 39 institutions responding are more active or concerned in the administration of private archives and manuscripts than those who did not reply, but there might be other explanations.

The following analysis shows the sampling achieved:

Analysis of Respondents


Types of Institutions replying


% of total responses

National Archives



National Libraries



National Museum



Provincial Archives



Specialist Libraries



State Libraries



University Libraries



Geographic Areas


% of total responses










Eastern Europe



North America



South America



Western Europe




1.3 The first 23 questions of the Questionnaire dealt with institutional practices and policy relating to private archive administration. The remaining seven questions concerned the general state of private archives in the respondent's country. There was a disappointing response to this part of the Questionnaire, in that 20 institutions did not reply to the key question (30): "What suggestions would you make for the improvement of private archive administration in your country?" and 17 did not respond to the question (28): "Of the following categories of private archives, which do you consider to be neglected?" In consequence, the author has relied, for this part of the survey, more heavily on publications and journal articles for the necessary information. In addition, copies of the last seven questions were sent to members of the Committee on Business Archives and the Committee on Literature and Art Archives of the ICA.

1.4 Answers to the Questionnaire varied in quality and length, some respondents, especially those whose native tongue is not English, appearing to experience difficulties with some of the questions. The author, however, is grateful to all those who, despite urgent demands on their time - an example more newsworthy than most is affordable by Dr Oldenhage of the Bundesarchiv, who was "sorry that the Hitler diaries prevented" him "from answering in time" - all who nonetheless attempted to answer the questionnaire. She is doubly grateful to those who thoughtfully enclosed relevant pamphlets, information sheets and similar material. If the author has mentioned some institutions more than others in this study it is not because of any bias, but because their answers encapsulated or illustrated a point more aptly, or more fully.


15.1 It is difficult to define precisely the term private archives, especially when what is regarded as private in one country is considered as public in another. For the purpose of this survey the author suggested the categories mentioned in the terms of reference of the contract (see pare 1.1). In socialist countries private archives are considered to be part of the state archival fonds. In has, therefore, been difficult to include an investigation of the very different systems operating in those countries, which perhaps should be the object of separate consideration. Nevertheless, an analysis of the survey findings leads to the following conclusions:

i) Historians and allied scholars are broadening the scope of their researches; "historians are now interested also in the economic, military, cultural, social, religious and a whole host of other matters" (11, p30). In addition, there is a growing awareness in most countries of the importance of the cultural heritage.

ii) Side by side with these developments, an unenlightened attitude persists on the part of many owners of private archives and the public at large. There is a great need for education and for the publicising of archival services in most member countries.

iii) Urgent action is needed to prevent dispersal and destruction of private archives and manuscripts. A national register of archives should be an essential first step in all countries. This will be a formidable task, requiring initially at least, teams of investigators and compilers and will require significant funding.

iv) The time has come to give legal protection to private archives where desirable and practical. Measures might include registration and classification of private archives, prohibition of the sale and destruction of classified archives and requirements that private owners make adequate provision for the preservation and availability of their archives. It should be recognized, however, that compulsory legislation might well prove counter-productive and that more might be achieved by way of financial aid or tax concessions, for example to owners depositing their archives in a recognized repository.

v) Where private owners are aware of the importance and value of their archives they often lack the expertise and resources necessary both to arrange and preserve their archives and to make them available for public consultation. Advice and assistance should be much more forthcoming than they appear to be at present. Steps should be taken to prepare and distribute a range of archive manuals suitable for the administrators of the various categories of archives in private hands.

vi) Advantage should be taken of the increased public concern with the need to preserve the cultural heritage. Governments must be encouraged to pay more than lip service to this need. More financial interest and involvement is required from governments. Archivists should forge closer bonds with the custodians of other parts of the cultural heritage.

vii) In addition to the general recommendations above the following categories of private archives covered by the survey required particular attention.

Business Archives

Much remains to be done to overcome inertia and ignorance among business managers with regard to record management and to persuade businessmen of the value of their archives for scholarship, even after the company history has been written. An active rescue service is urgently required in many countries, particularly for the records of defunct companies. Surely in this area, where financial resources are available, it must be possible to harness commerce, scholarship and archival expertise to preserve these records for posterity.

College and University Archives

In some countries these are public records and treated accordingly. In many countries the administration of these archives has been neglected. College and University managers need to be urged to operate an efficient records management system and to develop university archives. Academics should be persuaded not to leave papers and manuscripts to accumulate in corridors and study rooms but to call in an archivist for advice.

Religious Archives

Much needs to be done to prevent further neglect, dispersal and destruction. Urgent action needs to be taken when records are in the hands of individuals or lie abandoned in disused religious buildings. Advantage should be taken of the recent increased concern for these archives.

Scientific Archives

These archives often require very specialised management. Archivists in such institutions need to forge strong professional links in order to overcome a possible sense of isolation.

viii) Besides the categories covered by the survey the following are reported as at risk: records of social movements, pressure groups, voluntary organisations, papers of ethnic minorities, etc. Urgent action is required to identify and preserve such records.

ix) Oral archives should be used to supplement holdings of private archives.

x) Restrictions on access to private archives should be kept to a minimum, though the legitimate interests of the donor/depositor and owner should always be taken into account.

xi) There is a manifest need, in a number of countries, for the law on copyright, in respect of the use of unpublished materials, to be clarified and/or brought up to date.

xii) Private archive administration should be included in archival training courses.

xiii) Private archives and manuscripts are administered by a variety of institutions - record offices, libraries, museums, and historical societies. Co-operation between these institutions and the professional associations of their staffs is essential. Private archives should be administered according to archival principles and procedures.

xiv) All of the above recommendations apply to developing countries where private archives and manuscripts have received insufficient attention. Survey and acquisition programmes should be written into development plans and should be the object of international funding.

14.2 Recommendations for action at the international level

These findings and conclusions, in turn help support the following.

i) To alert governments to the need to enact protective legislation and increase financial assistance.

ii) To promote greater co-operation between professional associations of archivists, librarians and other custodians of private archives and manuscripts.

iii) To initiate a world-wide publicity programme to arouse archival consciousness, particularly directed to owners.

iv) To undertake the preparation of manuals for the handling of private archives for the use of custodians, owners and trainee archivists.

v) To promote a greater concern and action by International Council on Archives, its branches and committees on all aspects of private archive administration.

vi) To provide increased aid for private archives administration in developing countries.

vii) To enlist the participation of historians and other interested scholars in these projects and activities.

James A Keene and Michael Roper


1.1 In the decade since the publication of A H Leisinger's pioneering work. A Study of the Basic Standards for Equipping, Maintaining, and Operating a Reprographic Laboratory in Archives in Developing Countries, technical advances have been so rapid that they have rendered parts of that work obsolete, although much of what it has to say about basic 35mm roll microfilm technology is still current. Albeit that much of the latest high technology--updatable microfiche, digitable copies, laser printers, etc.--is as yet of little relevance to archival reprographics, especially in developing countries, archivists cannot neglect other advances which have led to technical improvements in microfiche, diaso microfilm, electrostatic copies and offset lithography.

1.2 The purpose of this RAMP study is, therefore, to provide archivists, especially those concerned with planning, commissioning and managing reprographic services, with a survey of current relevant reprographic technology and with guidelines and standards which they can apply in selecting and introducing the technology most appropriate to their own specific situations. It does not set out to be an instruction manual for reprographic technicians; still les it is a guide to the latest technology for reprographic service managers in the more developed countries.

1.3 In particular, it is written with the problems of developing countries, especially those in tropical areas, in mind. Hence account is taken of the difficulties which archivists are likely to encounter in such countries:

a) absence of local reprographic expertise;

b) lack of local manufacturers and suppliers of reprographic equipment and materials and of local maintenance facilities;

c) adverse climatic conditions;

d) unsuitable accommodation;

e) a restricted pool of suitably qualified manpower;

f) inadequate technical training facilities;

g) shortage of funds.

1.4 The study is in four parts. The first part describes the basic technology of microforms and hard copy and considers the purposes which an archival reprographic service might serve in relation to that technology and to the documents to be copied. The second part examines the considerations which are relevant to the planning, equipping and staffing of an archival reprographic service, including accommodation requirements and cost factors. The third part outlines the requirements at each stage of a three-stage programme for establishing and developing a basic archival reprographic service. The fourth part summarises the salient points in parts one and two in the form of guidelines.


Internal references are to paragraphs in Parts 1 and 2 which provide discussion of the specific guidelines.


13.1 General Considerations

13.1.1 Choice of Equipment:

In selecting equipment the objective should be to ensure fitness for purpose with value for money (4.1). To this end:

- equipment should be chosen which will cover the range of specified applications, produce results of the desired standard, be robust enough to survive all local circumstances and be delivered when required (5.1.6).

- equipment need not be more sophisticated than is necessary to meet basic requirements (5.1).

- the range of equipment should not proliferate to the extent that it is not used to its optimum capacity (

- where items of equipment form a production chain, their capabilities should be matched (, 5.1.2).

13.1.2 Choice of Supplier:

In choosing a supplier the objective should be to ensure compatibility of equipment and continuity of support. This may best be achieved by dealing with a single agent (3.4.3). In selecting such an agent consideration should be given to the extent to which he can guarantee:

- maintenance of supplies of spare parts and consumables throughout the life expectancy of the equipment (5.4.1).

- provision of local technical support (5.4.2).

13.1.3 Maintenance:

It is essential that a prescribed maintenance schedule should be followed for each item of equipment (5.2). Where suppliers and manufacturers do not have a local organization to provide such a service, it is of prime importance that:

- staff should be trained to carry out maintenance (5.2.1., 7.2.2)

- plentiful stocks of spare parts should be kept by the archive (5.2.2).

13.1.4 Materials:

Where the range of consumables available locally is limited, it is essential:

- to select materials of proven quality with good prospects of continuity of supplies (5.3).

- to maintain minimum stock levels consistent with delivery times, economies of scale and availability of suitable storage space, avoiding tying up too much space and capital in stocks but not allowing operating to halt because of lack of materials (5.3.2).

13.1.5 Operating Standards:

While it is desirable to meet relevant national or international standards (as summarised in Appendix A):

- there must be room for pragmatism in the light of local circumstances (5.5).

- where essential standards cannot be met under local conditions, consideration should be given to the adoption of systems more suited to those conditions (5.5.1).

13.2 Microfilms

13.2.1 Choice Of Systems:

The purpose for which microfilming is to be undertaken will determine the choice of systems as between:

- roll and flat film format (2.1, 2.2).

- 35mm and 16mm roll film (2.1, 5.1.1).

- silver halide and diazo or vesicular film (2.3.1, 2.3.2).

- see also Chapter 14.

13.2.2 Choice Of Camera:

The camera chosen should meet certain essential requirements:

- it should have the ability to cover the range of filming specified and to meet the standards set.

- the resolving power of the lens should be better than 100 lines to the millimetre across the range of reductions available.

- the lighting balance on the table should be even (

- optional extra facilities will be determined by specific requirements (

13.2.3 Choice of Microfilm Reader:

The choice of reader is very much a matter of personal preference, but factors to be considered are:

- the image should be sharp over the whole screen.

- in developing countries the simpler the reader the easier it will be to maintain in working condition.

- hence manual drive is to be preferred to motorised drive.

- front projection machines create slightly less eye strain than back projection machines (, 5.1.4).

13.2.4 Operating Procedures:

Sound operating procedures should include:

- foliating or paginating documents to simplify identification and prove completeness (2.6.1).

- targetting and titling as proof of validity, including the international test target to permit testing for resolution and density (2.6.2).

- careful document handling (2.6.3).

- thorough planning of filming and preparation of material to be filmed (2.6.4).

13.2.5 Quality Control:

Checking film for completeness and quality once it has been processed is essential if the film is to be an acceptable alternative to the original document. This requires:

- a 100 per cent check of all camera negative film for colour and sharpness of image as well as for completeness of content


- a more cursory check of duplicate film for colour and sharpness of image (

- testing each camera film for density and resolution (,

- testing for archival permanence by means of batch sample residual hypo tests (

13.3 Hard Copy

13.3.1 Electrostatic Copiers:

In developing countries the general rule should be to choose a simple machine which requires the minimum of maintenance. However, for archival document copying certain special considerations apply:

- the copier must have flat-bed fixed platen (

- where large quantities of hard copy from volumes are required, an overhead electrostatic copier in which the document does not come into contact with the camera may be justified


- copiers which use coated paper are usually less expensive to purchase, but the paper is more expensive and does not keep well in tropical conditions (

13.3.2 Reader-Printers:

The same considerations apply to reader-printers as to readers (see 13.2.3 above) and to electrostatic copiers (see 13.3.1 above) except that:

- more problems are likely to occur in relation to breakdown and maintenance because of the mixture of technologies and proper service back-up is essential.

- the majority of reader-printers use coated papers, some with limited shelf life in adverse environmental conditions


13.3. 3 Offset Lithography:

This is one of several forms of duplication available for the production of longer runs of hard copies for administrative purposes (3.1. 7). For use in an archive the requirement will normally be for:

- a simple electrostatic platemaking system ( an A3 or A4 vacuum fed press with some automated functions (

13.3.4 Photography:

Traditional photography still has a role in archives (3.1.8). In choosing equipment the following considerations apply:

- the choice of basic cameras will be determined by the work envisaged and the personal preference of the photographer.

- support equipment requirements will be related to the work envisaged (3.2.5).


14.1 Purpose

The nature and volume of the copying work to be undertaken should determine what equipment is to be obtained, rather than the availability of equipment determining the nature of and volume of work which can be undertaken. It is essential, therefore, to identify the specific purposes which an archival reprographic service will be called upon to meet (4.1).

14.1.1 Security Filming:

The purpose of this is to copy 'vital records' essential for administrative continuity (4.2.1) or records which are basic to a country's history (4.2.2) and to store those copies at a separate secure location. For this purpose:

- most suitable medium is silver halide negative microfilm processed and stored in accordance with international standards

- 35mm roll film using a planetary camera is the most appropriate process if volumes or loose documents of varying shades and sizes to be copied

- 16mm roll film using a flow camera or microfiche using a step and repeat camera are more appropriate if documents are in a standard modern format (4.2.3).

14.1.2 Conservation Copying:

The purpose of this is to copy documents as an alternative to repair (4.3.1) or to prevent wear and tear on heavily used originals (4.3.2). For this purpose:

- the most suitable preservation medium will be 35mm silver halide micro-film processed and stored in accordance with international standards.

- reference copies need not be permanent and diazo or vesicular copies will be cheaper and harder wearing.

- in certain circumstances photographic processes, possibly using special lighting, may be called for (4.3.3).

14.1.3 Diffusion:

There may be advantages to an archive and its users in making copies of documents widely available for reference use at dispersed locations (4.4.1), in the form of microfilm publications (4.4.3) or in response to specific customer orders (4.4.4., 4.4.5). Similar advantages may accrue from copying current records for multiple administrative use (4.4.2). For these purposes:

- microfilm is generally the most suitable medium.

- 16mm roll film produced on a flow camera or by COM is most appropriate to multiple administrative use.

- 16mm roll film produced on a planetary camera or microfiche produced by a step and repeat camera may be technically appropriate for other purposes, but user preferences may still dictate the production of 35mm roll film on a planetary camera.

- except when copying is for current administrative use and is of documents of no archival value, master negatives should be on silver halide film processed and stored to international standards. reference copies need not be permanent and diazo or vesicular copies may be offered as cheaper alternatives to silver halide (

- hard copy by means of an office copier may be more suitable for small orders, but restrictions may need to be imposed to minimise the risk of damage to the documents.

- alternatively print from microfilm may be provided, although this will be more expensive (

- some special case photography may be the only suitable process (

14.1.4 Cultural Heritage:

Many countries, especially developing countries with a colonial past, are undertaking copying programmes of extraneous documents to reconstruct their cultural heritage. In this respect:

- programmes should be carefully planned, preferably on a co-operative basis with neighbouring countries which have a common interest in records in archives in a former metropolitan country (4.5).

- 35mm microfilm is generally the most suitable medium.

- where the archive in which the documents are preserved has a reprographic service which works to archival standards and retains its own silver halide negatives, only a reference copy, which may be diazo or vesicular, need be acquired.

- where the archive does not retain its own master negatives, a silver halide negative processed to international standards should be acquired.

- where that archive does not undertake microfilming to international standards, a commercial bureau may be employed under contract to produce a silver halide negative processed to international standards

- reference copies, which may be diazo or vesicular, should be made from all master negatives acquired as part of a cultural heritage programme (4.5.1).

14.1.5 Administrative Copying:

This covers a wide variety of copying activities for administrative purposes. For such purposes:

- hard copy produced on an office copier will be acceptable where a low volume of output is to bet met (4.6.1).

- hard copy produced on a higher volume office copier or even by offset lithography may be necessary where a medium or high volume of copying is required (4.6.2).

14.1.6 Compaction or Substitution Microfilming:

The microfilming of documents and the destruction of the originals as a space saving measure is likely to be viable only when dealing with the mass of current and semi-current records; but:

- it should only be undertaken after careful costing in comparison with other possible solutions, such as an effective records management programme allied to records centre storage


- it is likely to be cost-effective only where a 16mm flow camera can be used.

- costs in relation to processing time will determine whether silver halide is more economical than diazo or vesicular film.

- reference copies should always be on diazo or vesicular film (4.7.2).


15.1 Planning

The successful establishment of a new or extended reprographic service requires careful and detailed preparation and effective control and co-ordination (9.1). This is best achieved within a formalised planning process, which should include the following stages:

- identifying and defining a need (9.2.1).

- identifying possible solutions (9.2.2).

- assessing feasibility (9.2.3).

- decision making (9.2.4).

- operational requirement (9.2.5).

- - implementation (9.5).

- evaluation (9.2.7).

- further development (9.2.8).

15.2 Finance

15.2.1 Financial Provision:

The first essential of planning a project is to ensure that adequate finance will be available at the times when it will be required (8.3). This involves: drawing up and revising, where necessary, accurate and detailed cost estimates (9.3.1). co-ordinating cash flow during the several stages of implementing the project (9.3.3). ensuring that funds will continue to be available for recurrent expenses and that expensive equipment does not lie idle because adequate provision had not been made for its continued operation (9.3.4).

15.2.2 Sources of Funding:

The identification of sources of funding is an essential part of financial planning. Such sources may include:

- aid from international organizations (9.4.1).

- bilateral aid (9 .4.2).

- the national budget (9.4.3).

- the archive's own resources (9.4.4), including cost recovery (8.8).

- cost sharing (9.4.5).

- commercial sponsorship (9.4.6).

15.2.3 Costing:

The costing of reprographic services requires consideration of four main elements (8.1):

- equipment: capital costs will include in addition to the basic equipment costs ( freight and delivery charges, assembly and installation costs, duty and taxes ( recurrent costs will include regular maintenance (, repairs ( and spare parts (

- materials: the stock of materials held and the rate of supply necessary to maintain optimum levels will vary with the rate of use and the ease of replenishment (8.3.1): a sound stock control system should be introduced to ensure that materials

- are used efficiently (8.3.2).

- accommodation: in addition to capital costs (8.5.2), provision should be made for recurrent costs such as rental (actual or notional) (, maintenance ( and services (

- staff: in addition to salary costs and other staff benefits (8.7.1), provision should be made for training costs ( and administrative overheads (

15.3 Accommodation and Services

15.3.1 Premises:

In planning accommodation for an archival reprographic service a number of factors have to be taken into account:

- the floor loading should be adequate for the weight of the equipment ( 6.1.1).

- the light should be excluded from darkroom areas and reduced elsewhere ( 6.1.2).

- ceiling height should be sufficient to give adequate clearance above equipment (6.1.3).

- an equable working environment should be provided (6.1.4).

- the size should be adequate to accommodate the range of equipment and processes and to meet the scale of operation (6.2).

15.3.2 Modular construction:

Where it is intended that a reprographic service should be developed over a period of time:

- it may be cost effective to provide at each stage of development only sufficient accommodation to meet immediate needs.

- this objective may be achieved within an outline plan for a fully developed service by modular construction (6.3.1).

- an exception to modular construction would be the darkroom, which may best be constructed as a single unit at the outset


15.3.3 Layout:

The positioning of equipment will depend upon the range of processes and the type and scale of operations (6.4). However, a number of general principles should be observed:

- layout should be related to workflow (6.4.1).

- the positioning of individual items of equipment should maximise the comfort and convenience of the operators (6.4.2).

15.3.4 Location:

The location of a reprographic service within the archive will vary with circumstances, but so far as possible:

- it should be planned with regard to its relationships to other archival services (6.5).

- the optimum location should be established by the same principles of workflow as determine its internal layout (6.5.1).

15.3.5 Services:

Guaranteed standards of supply of services are desirable and where these are not met by the normal public supply, special arrangements should be made (6.6). The services which will have to be provided are: electricity: it is essential to match the voltage of equipment and the supply (, to maintain a standard voltage ( and to provide adequate power outlets (

- water: maintenance of optimum pressure is essential (, as also is temperature control ( and quality control (

- drainage should be capable of disposing of large quantities of liquid chemical waste (

- ammonia supply for diazo processing poses health and safety problems and requires special provision (

15.3.6 Storage Areas:

Provision should be made for:

- a strong room for documents which are in use, constructed to archival storage standards (6.7.1).

- a materials store large enough to hold the normal level of stocks in an equable environment (6.7.2).

- a microfilm library and archive: special storage is required for silver halide camera negatives and for reversal working masters and this should meet international microfilm storage standards; it is desirable that separate accommodation should be provided at two locations as soon as possible so that camera negatives may be kept apart from reversal masters


15.4 Implementation

The implementation of a plan to establish or develop and archival reprographic service will involve:

- the identification of the detailed activities which form part of the plan and the placing of them within a forecast timetable.

- the co-ordination of these interrelated activities, monitoring progress and adapting to meet unforeseen circumstances (9.5).

15.4.1 Co-ordination:

The interrelated activities which require co-ordination:

- cash flow (9.3.3, 9.5.1)

- construction or conversion of accommodation (9.5.2).

- connection of services (9.5.3).

- delivery of equipment and materials (9.5.4).

- installation and testing of equipment (9.5.5).

- recruitment and training of staff (9.5.6).


16 .1 Numbers

These will be dependent upon the range of processes and the scale of operations, but as a general rule:

- a minimum of three staff members should be provided.

- complements in excess of this may be calculated on the basis of work rates (7.1).

16.2 Functions

As a general rule it is desirable that staff should perform a variety of functions, but:

- some functions require more skill and experience than others and may be reserved for senior operators (7.2).

- a single person should be designated as storekeeper (7.2.1).

- a mechanic should be employed to maintain equipment (7.2.2).

16.3 Management

16.3.1 Archival Management:

An archivist should be responsible for:

- planning and implementing the establishment of the reprographic service (9.1).

- determination of overall priorities.

- co-ordination with other technical and archival services.

- financial control (7.3.1).

16.3.2 Technical Superindence:

A senior technician should be responsible for:

- day-to-day control of operations.

- determination of immediate priorities in the light of guidelines provided by archival management.

- management of staff and allocation of work.

- maintenance of equipment.

- stock control.

- quality control.

- limited delegated financial control (7.3.2) .

16.3.3 Technical Supervision:

When a reprographic service becomes so developed that the several processes operate virtually independently, it may be necessary to appoint supervisors to be responsible for:

- day-to-day management of staff engaged in their respective processes (7.3.3).

16.4 Recruitment

In developing countries it will only rarely be possible to recruit staff with relevant qualifications and experience. Consequently:

- recruitment will have to be on the basis of potential (9.4.1).

16.4.1 Qualifications:

Formal qualifications in reprographics are unlikely to be held; the minimum qualifification should be:

- a secondary education, preferably with a technical bias (

16.4.2 Qualities:

Candidates for appointment should exhibit:

- manual dexterity.

- mechanical and electrical awareness (

16.5 Training

There are only limited opportunities for technical training in reprographics. It will be necessary, therefore:

- to devise a scheme of training combining available local and international opportunities (7.5.1).

16.5.1 Internal Training

This may combine:

- on-the-job training (

- training by expert consultants (7.5.1. 2).

- training by manufacturers (

16.5.2 External Training:

This may be especially difficult to arrange (7 .5.2). It may include:

- formal courses (7. 5.2.1)

- secondment or instructional visits to established reprographic services (7. 5.2.2).

Carmen CRESPO and Vicente VINAS


This study examines the current methods of conserving paper records and books in archives and libraries. Reference is made to the fairly ample, if scattered, literature and the work of various laboratories, particularly that of the Centro Nacional de Conservacion y Microfilmmacion Documental y Bibliografica de Espana which has devoted its energy over the past 12 years to the conservation of this part of the national heritage.

In conservation as such, we distinguish two distinct but complementary areas: the first includes all methods designed to avoid the deterioration of records (preventive or preservative methods); the second involves the direct treatment of items that have suffered damage or deterioration (curative measures and restoration).

Ideally, conservation policy should include preventive measures that obviate the need for the second set of measures. 'Prevention is better than cure' applies to this part of our cultural heritage no less than to health.

Without doubt, the correct application of either method calls for accurate knowledge of the material and structural qualities of the support (paper), of the graphic elements sustained by it (inks) and of their behaviour over various periods of time.

Thus the study of the environmental (external) as well as the inherent (internal) causes and effects of the deterioration of paper is of great importance to the archivist

Some of these topics are not treated as fully as others in this study. The characteristics of the supporting and the sustained media (paper and ink) and the causes of their deterioration will receive relatively brief attention and will largely serve as an introduction to the preventive and curative measures that make up the meat, the crux of this study. There is quantitative difference between preventive and curative methods and this paper focuses special attention on just one: the curative side. Its complexity and diversity are such, that there is still a great deal of uncertainty about it, not only among laymen but also among experts. The whole subject of restoration is in a state of constant flux, as technical and scientific innovations follow one another in quick succession. The preventive side, by contrast, is not only less controversial but also much less variable.

We hope that this study will be of use to all concerned with the preservation of records and books and especially to archivists and restorers.


1. Paper as a Support

Paper is the most widely used support of documents stored in archives and libraries. We distinguish two main periods in the manufacture of European paper. During the first, which continued until the middle of the nineteenth century, the basic materials were rags of vegetable origin (linen, hemp, cotton). The resulting paper was composed of cellulose, a substance found in plant fibres, a sizing of vegetable or animal glue, and a small reserve of alkali. The water molecules incorporated in the pulp during the process of paper making form bonds with the hydroxyl radicals of the cellulose, and hence serve as bridges (hydrogen bridges) between contiguous long-chain cellulose molecules.

Paper manufacture from rags was mechanized at the beginning of the nineteenth century and led to the production of continuous webs of paper (mechanical paper). In the eighteenth century, the growing demand for paper had already imposed the use of other than white rags for paper production. Chlorine compounds had then to be introduced as bleaching agents and natural sizes began to be replaced with a chemical size, namely alum, which unlike the natural product is added to the pulp before the formation of the paper. Both types of size cause acidity in the paper and decrease the durability of the fibre (sections 1.1-, pp 3-6).

Wood largely replaced rags in the production of paper in about the middle of the nineteenth century. Depending on the method of production, the pulp is called mechanical, chemical or semi-chemical. Paper made from mechanical pulp retains all the impurities of the wood.

- Papaer made from chemical pulp is obtained by treatment of the cellulose with various chemicals that eliminate the non-cellulosic elements of the wood. The resulting pulp is of poor quality, because of the presence of alum rosin and chlorine residues. At the end of the 1950s, permanent durable paper was introduced. Unlike traditional paper, obtained from wood, this paper is alkaline (section 1.2.2-, pp 5-9).

Synthetic compounds such as polyesters are currently being used in the manufacture of paper for drawings and plans. Their inertia towards external agents and their physical resistance could make them the paper of the future (section 1.3, p.9).

2. Inks

Inks are substances suitable for writing, printing or colouring. Their basic constituents are: colouring matter (dyes and pigments) and adhesives. Some inks contain mordants, chemical substances with the property of fixing the inks to paper and hence replacing the mechanical effects of adhesives (sections 2.2-, pp 11-12).

Carbon-based ink is stable: it neither changes chemically nor attacks the paper, though it can be affected by losses in the mechanical qualities of the adhesive.

Metallo-acid inks include a dye composed of a metal and an acid which acts as an oxidising agent and mordant combined. The most important of these inks are the ferrogallic or ferrous types. Also included in the metallo-acid group are logwood, alizarin and vanadium inks.

The original aniline inks were very sensitive to light. Today they are of better quality and much more stable (sections 2.2.2-, pp 12-20).

Typographic inks differ from calligraphic inks in that the watery solvent normally used for the latter is replaced with an oil substance (varnish) in the former. The type of varnish used and its combination with various solvents (driers, thickeners, etc.) determine the suitability of such inks for particular printing techniques. The introduction of synthetic dyes, especially aniline, has greatly complicated the identification of inks (section, p.l6).

3. Causes and effects of the degradation of paper

The causes of degradation can reside in the paper itself (internal causes) or in the environment (external causes). The most damaging internal causes are found in paper made from wood (lignin, alum, rosin, chlorine). Inks and metallo-acids must also be counted among the internal degrading agents of paper (sections 3.1-3.2.2, pp. 21-23).

External degradation can be mechanical, environmental, chemical or biological. There are three environmental factors that affect the conservation of paper: humidity, temperature and light. An excess of moisture softens the size and leads to the formation of acids derived from salts and other products used in the manufacture of paper or ink. Sudden and frequent changes in temperature and humidity subject paper to great strains that may rupture its fabric. The most dangerous radiations to which paper can be exposed are those of short wave-length (ultra-violet rays). The atmosphere of industrial areas contains a series of impurities that are harmful to paper (sections 3.3-3.3.3, pp. 23-26).

The most patent destroyers of paper are rodents, insects and micro-organisms. Special mention must be made of termites, wood-feeding insects, that can destroy the woodwork of an entire building and of all the books and documents stored in it.

Micro-organisms (fungi and bacteria) soften paper in the areas they invade, break up the surface sizing, and release pigments in the course of their metabolic cycle (sections 3.3.4-, pp. 26-28).

It goes without saying that disasters (floods, fires, etc.) can have the most serious effects on documents. Floods can cause inks to run, pages to stick together, paper to rot, and glues to lose their adhesive power. In addition spotting and the growth of fungi is encouraged by the humid atmosphere and by rises in temperature caused by attempts to speed up the drying process. Fire can either mutilate or completely destroy records.

Other causes of deterioration are careless handling of documents, trial-and-error attempts at restoration, and inappropriate reagents used to restore faded inks, etc. (sections 3.3.5-3.3.6, pp. 28-30).

4. Preventive methods of conservation

Preventive methods of conservation aim at creating an ideal habitat for documents, one that puts them beyond the reach of harmful agents. Preventive conservation accordingly is concerned with location, installation, direct physical protection and environmental controls (section 4.1, p.31).

A building intended to house an archive should satisfy a set of general building standards as well as a number of special conditions. Factors to be taken into account in choosing the location of storage area include: orientation of building, segregation from other sections of the archive, the need for fire-proof walls and doors, a rational layout of the surface area, mechanical resistance, protection against environmental dangers.

When old buildings are converted for use as archives, they must be modified to meet all the requirements of conservation.

For archives in tropical countries, construction standards should be particularly stringent; not only the outer walls and foundations but also the doors, windows and roofs should be in keeping with the climatic conditions (sections 4.2-4.2.5, pp. 31-37).

Metal shelving units are highly recommended: in the traditional and also in the 'compact' form they must combine solidity with safety and convenience.

Special storage problems are posed by documents of unusual shape or size (maps, plans, etc.; see sections 4.3-4.3.3, pp. 37-41).

The most usual containers of documents are boxes. Normally they are made of stiff and acid-free cardboard, but inert plastic boxes, which have obvious advantages, are beginning to replace cardboard (4.4-4.4.2, pp. 41-42).

5. Conservation Controls

Closely related to prevention and restoration is the monitoring of factors whose presence or imbalance can impair documents. The chief of these factors are light, humidity, temperature, pollution, biological contamination and fire.

The best natural climate is found in temperate zones where temperature and humidity rarely experience wide fluctuations. Artificial environments (air conditioners) make it possible to regulate humidity and temperature within even stricter limits (sections 5.1-, pp.43-46).

Atmospheric pollution is caused by the solid, liquid and gaseous waste products of industrial and natural processes. Limitation of biological pollution demands low levels of temperature, humidity and illumination, good ventilation, cleanliness, and periodic checks and preventive treatment.

Fire safety depends on the presence of adequate detection and extinguishing systems. Those based on ionization smoke detectors are the most suitable for archives (sections 5.1.3-, pp.46-49)

6. Restoration

The restoration of printed documents aims at the recreation of the physical and functional features of paper and ink lost through the passage of time, through handling or through an accumulation of adverse circumstances. Because of its special importance, this type of work must satisfy precise restoration standards which guarantee the preservation of the essence and function of the original documents, respect for their cultural integrity and concern about their transmission to future generations (sections 6.2-6.2.6, pp. 52-54).

The sequence of operations from the time a document arrives in the restoration laboratory to the time it leaves again, constitutes a series of links in a regular chain - the restoration process.

Restoration criteria require, before any restoration work starts, strict control - identification of the item's physical and cultural characteristics - and the opening of a file indicating the treatment given, the methods of application and any other details of general interest. The individual characteristics of each document and the diagnosis of the causes and effects of the deterioration suffered as well as the seriousness of the damage are determined by a series of physical, chemical and biological analyses. The appropriate treatment is determined from the results of the analyses and the value of the document as cultural property (sections 6.3-, pp. 54-58).

Because of the structural fragility of paper and the instability of the materials it supports, restoration work should be carried out with sufficient safeguards to ensure its complete protection during the time it is in the laboratory or undergoing any other treatment throughout the restoration process.

In systems in which a bath is involved it is necessary to support the document while it is being handled. Inks etc. that are unstable or likely to be soluble must be protected with non-permanent fixatives applied locally or over the entire surface (sections 6.3.4-, pp.60-65).

Attack by micro-organisms and insects is a common cause of damage. Before introducing a document into a depository, therefore, it is necessary to disinfect it to prevent any likelihood of contagion. The installation and use of a room or area equipped for such a purpose is necessary in any archives or library (sections 6.3.5-, pp. 65-68).

Patches, incrustrations, dust and dirt are removed by different cleansing treatments: erasers give good results in the removal of solid substances; enzymes are used chiefly to treat damage caused by natural adhesives; and organic solvents are applied to greasy and similar substances. The most stubborn stains can be removed only by bleaching, an operation with harmful side-effects that is advisable only for documents whose aesthetic appearance is important (sections 6.3.6_6.3.6.4, pp. 69-79).

The yellowish colour and friability of many papers may be due to excess acidity, which causes gradual degeneration. Deacidification elininates this cause and gives the document better protection. The creation of an alkaline reserve with a pH between 7 and 8, according to the type of paper, is recommended as a preventive measure (sections 6.3.7-, pp. 79-84).

Loss of body can be restored by means of protective and curative consolidating agents. Water helps to bind the fibres together. The most effective consolidating agents are adhesives, basically the increasingly widespread semi-synthetic adhesives (sections 6.3-, pp.84-87).

Fine tissue-paper of high transparency is used to repair cuts and tears. Gaps or missing areas are repaired by means of grafts, using either the manual or the mechanical process (sections 6.3.9-, pp.87-90).

Scientific considerations for the restoration of graphic elements demand that falsification of the reality of the mutilated part be avoided. In works of an artistic nature reintegration of the missing area, always using materials and techniques different from those of the original, must be in harmony with the whole (sections, pp.90-92).

After aqueous treatments documents must be carefully dried in order to reduce the increase in volume that occurs in all cellulosic materials after immersion in water. The purpose of smoothing is to avoid deformations and restore, as far as possible, their original flatness and size. The best natural drying method after immersion is airing at room temperature and not too quickly, to avoid deformations. Documents are placed between two flexible and permeable covers on which gentle pressure can be exerted to complete the drying process and help to smooth them out (sections 6.3.12-, pp.92-94.

If a document is in such a fragile state that despite the consolidation treatment is still risky to handle it it should be laminated by applying to one or both sides a reinforcing sheet that will lend it greater body and functional strength. This operation can be performed manually or by special machines with heat and pressure controls. Lamination is a curative method and should not be used on a large scale or indiscriminately. Lamination must be preceded by the appropriate curative measures, especially deacidification (sections 6.3.13-6.3.13-2, pp.94-97),

Other protective methods are applied to the restoration of bindings and the mounting or special protection of loose leaves or documents. For bindings of historical and/or artistic value the applicable criteria, as for all reintegration, are aimed at preserving the item in its integrity. When replacements are made the materials and techniques should avoid falsification and, while respecting the harmony of the original and reconstructing the missing parts, ensure that the old is clearly distinguishable from the new.

Binding entails dismantling and reassembling the entire volume if the leaves need treatment or if the binding has become weak. A careful record of the order and arrangement of each book is indispensable so as to avoid mistakes when rebinding (section, p.97).

Loose documents should be protected, especially for the purpose of display, by being specially mounted in a passe-partout folder to preserve them. The materials used, like that used in other treatments (e.g. binding), must possess certain innocuous properties (e.g. chemical neutrality, absence of particles subject to oxidation and low or zero hygroscopicity). A transparent and impermeable sheet placed between the folder and document eliminates external risks.

Another method is encapsulation, a system of preventive covering that consists in putting the document, without any adhesive, inside a flat, transparent and hermetically sealed sleeve and prevents or guards against the action of external agents. As with lamination, before encapsulating the document any agent that can cause foreseeable damage must be eliminated (sections, pp.100-103).

Derek Charman


1.1 The basic terminology of any field of activity undergoing significant change is essentially unstable. This is particularly the case of records management and, to a lesser extent, of archives administration. Because the basic terms now in use have acquired a variety of meanings in different contexts and countries, this introduction indicates the particular meanings assiged to the terms used in this study. The definitions, in turn, are based upon those proposed in a glossary prepared by a working group of the International Council on Archives and scheduled for publication in 1984.

1.2 A record may be defined as 'recorded information, regardless of form or medium, received and maintained by an agency, institution, organisation or individual in pursuance of its level obligations or in the transaction of business of any kind". This includes "any paper, book, photograph, microfilm, map, drawing, chart, magnetic tape or any copy or print-out thereof".

1.3 Records management may be defined as "that area of general administrative management concerned with achieving economy and efficiency in the creation, maintenance and use, and the disposal of records during their entire life-cycle". The life-cycle of a record is its progression from creation to final disposal. It includes the following phases:

1.3.1 Current records - records that are regularly used for the current business of an agency, institution or organisation and continue to be maintained in their place of origin or receipt (sometimes called 'active' records);

1.3.2 Semi-current records - records that are required so infrequently for current business that they should be transferred to a records centre pending their ultimate disposal (sometimes called 'semi-active' records);

1.3.3 Non-current records - records no longer required for current business which should be with destroyed or transferred to an archival repository (sometimes called 'inactive' records);

1.4 Archives are non-current records preserved by the organisations responsible for their creation, or by their successors in function, or by an appropriate archives service, because they are of permanent value.

1.5 Numerous activities can be included within a broad definition of records management, such as word processing and the management of correspondence; the management of forms, reports, and directives (e.g. standing instructions and technical manuals); files classification and management, including the use of ADP, EDP and microform systems for the storage and retrieval of information; mail management; office machines and supplies management; centralised microform operations; records centre operations; vital records and archives preservation programmes. Although it is possible to develop a records management programme by concentrating on any one of these elements, the key elements of a comprehensive programme are the records survey and the records schedule which determine the retention and disposal of records. The basic information obtained by these means will greatly facilitate the development of improvements in records creation and maintenance and in particular, a records survey is an essential preliminary for the improvement of filing systems, which are the basis of good paperwork management.

1.6 A records survey has been defined as "the gathering of basic information about records regarding their quantity, physical form and type, location, physical condition, storage facilities, rate of accumulation, use and similar data for the purpose of planning acquisition and disposal programmes, microfilming operations, new facilities and related archival activities". To this definition, which relates the survey solely to archival activities, should be added the purpose of better records management within the offices where the records were created.

1.7 A records schedule is a document describing the records of an organisation and authorising all the actions to be taken for their disposal. These include microfilming; file-breaks; their transfer to a records centre when they are semi-current, pending the completion of their periods of retention; and their destruction or transfer to an archival repository when they are non-current, generally after a specified period (30 years after their creation in the case of the public records of Great Britain).

1.8 It may be argued that surveys and schedules are elaborate ways of achieving what is, after all, a simple purpose, the destruction of records or their transfer to archives. In reality the situation is quite otherwise. Where inadequate records schedules or none at all exist, the disposal of records will be unplanned and chaotic. Records will be retained in expensive office accommodation when they are semi- or non-current and even where basement or other holding areas exist, they are likely to be occupied by non-current records which should have been destroyed long since, thus effectively preventing the transfer of records from office accommodation. It has been noted:

"unplanned retirement, unfortunately, is very widespread. It usually consists, initially, in the relegation of non-current records to out-of-the-way space in cupboards, corridors, attics, cellars and the like, in order to free office space for the latest current records. Then, when there is no remaining spare space even in the attics and cellars, and yet more space is requird in the operating offices, the agency authorities often decide to destroy a greater or lesser part of the older records, usually on an arbitrary basis. The tendency toward this kind of thoughtless destruction has been greatly exacerbated by the typically greatly increased rates of records production in recent decades".

1.9 The advent of microforms and more recently of the silicon chip has persuaded some organisations that the paper mountain can be reduced, if not eliminated altogether, through minaturisation or electronic data processing. Much time and money has been wasted in the past in microfilming records which should have been destroyed, if proper records schedules had been in effect. The assumption that it will be unnecessary in the future to pay much attention to the elimination of useless information, because of the falling cost and increasing capacity of computer memories, is quite as dangerous, in that it can lead to the retention of useless information and the consequent overloading of computers, The end result will be that action equivalent to that already noted will be taken by agency authorities to destroy a greater or lesser part of the older data, usually on an arbitrary basis. The use of records surveys and the development of records schedules is, therefore, essential, whether the intention is the better management of paper records, the introduction of microforms and data processing or, as should be the rule in these times, to determine the optimum use to which all three forms of record should be put, bearing in mind the need for the long term retention of some records on paper, although they may have been created in machine readable form.

1.10 The objectives of a records survey are, therefore, firstly to ensure' that records schedules are comprehensive and include all records and all forms of record and, secondly, to assist in the development of better systems of records management, without which records schedules may lose much of their value. The objectives of a records schedule are to plan the life of records from the time of their creation or receipt, to the completion of their life-cycle, either by destruction or preservation as archives. The advantages of a records schedule are that it:

1.10.1 Saves time by reducing the volume of records which must be searched -for information;

1.10.2 Saves space by removing from the office records no longer in current use;

1.10.3 Avoids additional costs for the purchase of storage equipment and the acquisition of floor space for records storage;

1.10.4 Promotes efficient control over records;

1.10.5 Identifies the valuable records for archival preservation.

The results of a records schedule are, therefore, fewer records, better records, more efficient records and more economical records

1.11 The Study and Guidelines are primarily designed for organisations with no records management function, but which may or may not have an established archives service. The practice recommended is based on that first developed by the National Archives and Records Service of the United States of America, which has since been adapted for use by non-governmental organisations, including businesses, and has been introduced in a modified form into other English speaking countries. However, recommendations do not always coincide precisely with American practice, as they derive in part from the author's own experience in establishing archives and records management services, both in government and in commerce and industry. In particular, reference will be made to Canadian, Australian and British practice where it is relevant.

1.12 Differing administrative and archive traditions as well as lack of a uniform terminology and the fact that English records management texts are not readily available in other languages, may be on reason why these techniques are not better known internationally. They are, however, capable of universal application, regardless of language differences.


10.1 Records Management is concerned with achieving economy and efficiency in the creation, maintenance and disposal of records throughout their life-cycle, which can be divided into three phases, current, semi-current and non-current. Archives are non-current records preserved because they are deemed to be of long term or permanent value (1.3, 1.4).

10.2 A Records Survey is the process of gathering basic information about records, their quantity, physical form, type, location, physical condition, storage facilities, rate of accumulation, use and similar data, for the purpose of planning acquisition and disposal programmes, microfilming operations, new facilities and related archival activities. (1.6).

10.3 A Record Schedule is a document describing the records of an organisation, showing all the actions to be taken for their disposal, including microfilming, file-breaks and destruction or preservation as archives, after the completion of a specified retention period. (1.7).

10.4 The Objectives of a Records Survey are to ensure that records schedules are comprehensive and include all forms of records and to assist in the development of more efficient systems of record keeping and information retrieval. The Objectives of a Records Schedule are to plan the life of a record from the time of its creation or receipt to the completion of its life-cycle, either by destruction or preservation. (1.10).

10.5 The application of records schedules saves time by reducing the volume of unessential records which must be searched for information; saves space by removing records no longer in current use from office accommodation; avoids costs for the purchase of additional space and filing equipment; promotes efficient control over records. (1.10).

10.6 Organisations intending to embark upon a programme of records surveys and schedules, should be prepared to establish a records management unit, employing specialist staff, to develop systems for the conduct of records surveys and schedules; to train their own and agency staff to operate the systems; to provide a consultative service on records management systems for agencies and departments; to provide other services as may be required by the new systems, such as records centres and microfilm bureaux (2.1, 2.6).

10.7 Where there is a shortage of experienced professional records managers from whom to select a suitable head for the records management unit, an outside consultant may be employed to establish it and to undertake the initial training of the staff. Once the unit has been established, suitable training courses should be provided for professional staff.

10.8 The role of the records management unit should be defined by administrative regulation or by legislation, to give the head of the unit sufficient authority to inspect the records of all agencies with a view to surveying and scheduling their records and prohibiting the destruction of records in advance of a survey. Responsibility for implementing the survey should rest with the head of the agency, but responsibility for the work of the survey and for approval of the schedules should rest with the head of the records management unit. Agencies should appoint officers to liaise with the records management unit (2.7).

10.9 Where the records management unit is part of the archival organisation, responsibility for the final approval of records schedules may be delegated to the head of the unit by the chief archivist. If the unit is independent of the archives, machinery should be established to ensure that schedules are submitted for final approval by the chief archivist.

10.10 A records survey falls naturally into three stages:

10.10.1 Preparation, when agencies are notified that a survey is being initiated and a preliminary investigation of the records of the agency is carried out;

10.10.2 Inventory, when details of the records series held by each agency unit are obtained;

10.10.3 Appraisal, when the records series identified during the inventory stage are evaluated to determine appropriate retention periods for them (3.1 - 3.4).

10.11 The Preliminary Investigation is designed to identify the volume of records held by each agency unit, their location and the equipment and floor space occupied, in order to plan the preparation of the inventory. The investigation should be carried out by a qualified team headed by a records analyst working under the supervision of the records management unit. A questionnaire for the guidance of the unit team can be of value in ensuring that all the information essential for the preparation of the inventory is gathered. (3.6, 3.7).

10.12 The core of a records survey is the inventory of the records series in the custody of each agency. A Records Inventory is a complete listing of the records of an agency, by series or category, with sufficient supporting information to enable an informed appraisal and evaluation to be made. A Records Series is a body of records arranged in a particular order (numerical, chronological or alphabetical), or arising from a specific activity or purpose, and filed and used as a unit. The inventory should be carried out by the same team that carried out the preliminary investigation. (4.1 -4.3).

10.13 Once the inventory has begun, no records should be destroyed or removed without the knowledge of the team. The quality of the inventory will depend on the accuracy with which records series are defined and titles are allocated. (4.4, 4.5). Some series will require special consideration, such as cartographic records, microforms, magnetic tapes and audio-visual records. (4.6 - 4.8, 9.1 - 9.4). There are advantages to be gained from starting the inventory on non-current records in storage areas. The progress of the inventory should be monitored to ensure that no items are overlooked. (4.8, 4.9).

10.14 If the inventory is sufficiently detailed, it can be used to identify records management problems and lead to the introduction of alternative systems of record keeping. It should, therefore, be reviewed and updated annually. (4.11).

10.15 On the completion of the inventory, the forms should be sorted into alphabetical order of records series for appraisal. The data derived from the inventory forms can, with advantage, be keyed into a data management program on a microcomputer for the preparation of draft records schedules. (4.12, 4.13).

10.16 Appraisal is a basic archival function of determining the eventual disposal of records based upon their current and future administrative, fiscal and legal uses and their evidential, informational and research values; sometimes referred to as evaluation or selective retention. It takes place at two levels. At the first level, a provisional evaluation of each series and a recommended retention period must be submitted to the agency unit to enable agency staff to determine how long they will need to retain it for business purposes; at the second level, the archives service must determine which of the records series have archival value and should be retained. (5.1 - 5.11).

10.17 When a provisional appraisal of each series of records by the records analyst has been completed, his recommendations should be incorporated in a Records Retention Authorisation specifying the period that the records in each series are current and should remain in the originating office; the point at which they become semi-current and should be transferred to a records centre for further retention; the ultimate disposal of the records when they are non-current, either by destruction or transfer to archives. (6.1, 6.2).

10.18 The Records Retention Authorisation should also specify records vital to the survival of the organization for the purpose of disaster planning; records series too bulky for complete retention and the method of sampling to be employed to preserve a representative selection; records series which may be converted from one medium to another, e.g. paper to microfilm, to improve the speed and efficiency of retrieval and to save space; records series subject to restrictions on access. (6.3).

10.19 The Records Retention Authorisation should be submitted to the agency, to the archives service and, where appropriate, to other agencies, such as legal, financial and administrative for approval. As soon as the final approvals have been received, records already time-expired should be destroyed; semi-current records should be transferred to a records centre; records identified as archives should be transferred to the archives and continuing records series should be incorporated into a records schedule. (6.4 - 6.6).

10.20 Records Schedules are the responsibility of the head of the records management unit. They are of two types; general schedules based upon inventories of several offices performing substantially the same work, but not always using the same terminology or keeping records in exactly the same way; agency schedules based on an inventory of a single agency, which will have records series not common to other agencies and will incorporate retention periods taken from general schedules (7.1 - 7.4).

10.21 Agency schedules will contain substantially the same information as the approved final version of the agency records retention authorisation, with the exception of information justifying the agreed retention periods and non-current series which have been destroyed or transferred to archives. Schedules should be reviewed annually in the light of changes in organisation, record keeping practice, legal or other retention criteria, the creation and cessation of records series and changes in office technology (7.4 7.8).

10.22 It should be the responsibility of agency staff to apply general and agency schedules as records pass out of current use. This implies the regular review of filing systems to identify semi-current and non-current records which are due for transfer to the records centre for a further period of retention until their final disposal, or for immediate destruction, or for direct transfer to the archives. (8.1, 8.2).

10.23 A Records Centre is a building, usually specially designed and constructed, for low-cost storage, maintenance and communication of semi-current records pending their ultimate disposition; sometimes called an intermediate repository or limbo. The main difference between a records centre and a store for departmental records is that it receives records from many agencies and that it is manned by staff trained in the techniques for handling, retrieving and disposing of records in bulk. They are usually provided and run by -either the records management or the archival unit. (8.3).

10.24 Semi-current records are transferred to a records centre in standard containers supplied by the records centre, accompanied by transfer lists, in accordance with procedures laid down by the records management unit. Whilst the records remain in the records centre, the transfer lists are used for the retrieval and disposal of records. (8.4 - 8.6).

10.25 The disposal of records in accordance with the retention schedules is the responsibility of the records centre, on the authority of the originating office. Due account must be taken of confidentiality of the information contained in the records in selecting the method of destruction. Security classified records must be defaced in some way before disposal (8.7 - 8.9).

10.26 Technological advances in methods of recording and retrieving information through the use of machine-readable records held on-line in computers, are having a profound effect on the management of records. These records must be included within the ambit of records surveys and schedules, but special attention must be paid to the medium in which the information derived from such records is held for long term retention. For permanent preservation, printing out on paper or microforms may be desirable, but some information may have to be retained on magnetic tape, so that it can continue to be manipulated on a computer. In such cases care must be taken to ensure that hardware is available on which to read the records, for as long as the tapes must be retained (9.1).

Harold Naugler


"No other development since the invention of movable type has had an great an effect on the production, dissemination, storage, and use of information as has that of the electronic computer, and this development has only been in process for about thirty-five years. Compared to the other great inventions in information communication (writing, begun about 5,000 years ago; the alphabet, developed some 3,000 years ago; movable type, invented about 700 years ago), the computer is only in its infancy." (1)

What is it that makes the modern electronic computer such a powerful tool in the world today? First of all, electronic computers operate at speeds which are hard to imagine. The time required for the internal operation is measured in nanoseconds (that is, .000 000 001 seconds). A corollary of this speed of work is the volume of work which a computer can do. Examples abound in both industrial and scientific applications where computers are being used to solve problems which would have been insoluable by any pratical means because of the sheer volume of calculation involved.

A second characteristic of electronic computers is the consistency with which they carry out their instructions. Machine errors are almost unknown, and because of comprehensive error detection systems they seldom lead to inaccurate results. Most of the errors which are reported with such glee in the press are in fact the result of human error rather than the fault of the machine. If the information fed into the computer is valid and the programs are sound, the machine can be relied upon to produce the results that are required.

A third invaluable characteristic of electronic information processing systems is their great storage capacity. Modern computers can store vast amounts of information in a relatively small space, and in such a way that it can be retrieved and used very rapidly. This great storage capacity is particularly advantageous in applications such as calculation of census data, where very detailed information can be processed in a relatively simple way.

A further advantage of the modern computer is its versatility. For example, the same machine can be programmed to help a company's accountant produce a payroll, help the sales manager analyse a market research report, and assist the company's architects and engineers design a new building.

Another important aspect is the fact that the programming and processing tasks are independent of each other. The machine can be working on any one of a variety of tasks while the computer personnel are preparing a program for yet another piece of work. The machine has the ability to accept detailed instructions and to store these in a high speed internal memory unit. It then has almost immediate access to these instructions, and is not dependent upon an operator feeding in instructions as the work progresses.

At the same time that electronic computers have been developing, the older business systems have been running into difficulties. Some of the problems which these older methods of work have had to face are outlined below.

1) A growing volume of paperwork. As business and government have become more and more complex, more and more records and reports have been needed. Each organisation has needed to keep more detailed information on all aspects of its operations.

2) Increased costs. As the standard of living has risen, so has the cost of employing labour. This has forced all types of organisations to consider automatic methods of processing information.

3) Shortage of personnel. Again as society has changed, specialisation has increased. A better educated population has led to a decline in the number of workers available for routine processing work.

4) Elimination of error. In this increasingly complex age, it becomes more and more important that we do not make errors. On a flight to the moon, for example, it is imperative that the results of all calculations be reliable, and that no human transcription errors be made.

5) The need for rapid decisions. Modern management wants to know what happens as soon as it happens so that the managers can make sensible decisions at the earliest possible moment. In this way, potential business will not be lost because of ignorance on the part of management.

Considering the technical ability of modern computers and the difficulties facing the older methods of information processing, it is not surprising that computers have been introduced into laboratories, business, and government offices throughout most countries. In part these machines are replacing older systems, while in part they are being used to undertake work which could not previously be done.

How have archivists responded to the confluence of converging computer/communication technology, new legislative and management initiatives, the rapid growth in the use of computers, and the explosive growth in the volume of information in machine-readable form? It was events of this nature which led, at least in part, to consideration of the implications of computers by the Fifth International Congress on Archives in 1964 and a year later at the Ninth Meeting of the International Conference of the Round Table on Archives. However, at that time few ICA members foresaw the possibility of accessioning machine-readable records. Seven years later, in 1971, at the Thirteenth Meeting of the Round Table, data processing applications and their implications in archives were examined. It was as a result of the report that the Ad Hoc Working Party on the Implications of ADP in Archives was established by the ICA in 1972. The Working Group was the predecessor of the existing Automation Committee of the International Council on Archives. "The deliberations of the Working Party and later, of the Committee led to exchanges of views with regard to the use of computers for managing archives and the problems of appraising machine-readable records." (2) It was around this same time that a number of national repositories - in Canada, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States - began preparing for the scheduling of machine-readable records and for the acquisition of those appraised as having long-term value.

However, concern for the preservation and use of machine-readable records was not, and is still not, confined to traditional archivists. In 1973 a new international organisation was established known as the International Association for Social Science Information Service and Technology (IASSIST). Membership in the Association consisted basically of three groups: the creators and disseminators of machine-readable data, data archivists and data librarians, as well as the users, particularly social scientists, of such data. The data archivists and librarians were representatives of social science data archives which were being established at academic institutions throughout many countries. (3) Although data archivists and librarians do not always have the same background and training as their traditional archival counterparts, both share many of the same concerns with respect to the management of machine-readable records. One particular area in which IASSIST members have provided considerable leadership is in the cataloguing and description of machine-readable data files. (4)

It is interesting to note that much of the early literature written concerning machine-readable records dealt with the crucial question of appraisal. (5) Indeed, this continues to be a topic of considerable interest, discussion, and re-evaluation among archivists who have been dealing with machine-readable records for over a decade. It is, therefore, most timely that the Division of the General Information Program of UNESCO and the International Council on Archives have agreed to the joint sponsorship of this particular study.

Archivists who manage machine-readable records on a full-time basis quickly recognise that procedures which are developed one way may require partial or complete revision in two or three years. This is often necessary in order to keep pace with the many and frequent changes in the computer industry itself. Not only is this the case for the accessioning, processing, and preservation of machine-readable records, but it is also true for the appraisal function. For example, as machine-readable records become admissible as evidence in courts of law throughout various countries, the appraisal of machine-readable records from a legal point of view will become far more important than it is at the present time. As more and more textual information becomes digitised or machine readable, it will also be necessary co reassess the evidential value of machine-readable records. In other words, the author does not consider the approaches outlined in this study as in any way definitive. While every attempt has been made to reflect the "current state of the art" with respect to the appraisal of machine-readable records, it must be recognised that developments will occur over the years which will necessitate their reassessment and possible revision. The approach should, therefore, not be interpreted as definitive, but rather as a guideline to archivists who manage machine-readable records.


1. H Thomas Hickerson, Archives and Manuscripts: An Introduction to Automated Access. Basic Manual Series, Society of American Archivists, Chicago, 1981, page 11.

2. Meyer H Fishbein, Guidelines for Administering Machine-Readable Archives. Committee on Automation, International Council on Archives, Washington, D.C., November 1980, page 7. This particular publication is an excellent example of the work of the Automation Committee over the years, and particularly some of its members, in addressing problems associated with the archival management of machine-readable records. Committee members have also devoted a great deal of time and attention to the use of computer systems in archives. See, for example, A. Arad and M.E. Olsen, An Introduction to Archival Automation. Committee on Automation, International Council on Archives, Koblenz, Federal Republic of Germany, January 1981. The Committee also produces a journal, ADPA, which contains articles, etc. on both automation in archives and the management of machine-readable records.

3. For an explanation of the reasons for the establishment of such archives, particularly in the United States, and the various functions performed in such institutions, see C. Geda, "Social

Science Data Archives", The American Archivist, Volume 42, Number 2,

April 1979, pages 158-166.

4. See, for example, the manual written by Sue A. Dodd, Cataloguing Machine-Readable Data Files. American Library Association, Chicago, 1982.

5. Meyer H. Fishbein, "Appraising Information in Machine Language Form", The American Archivist, Volume 35, Number 1, January 1972, pages 35-43; L. Bell, The Archival Implications of Machine Readable Records. Washington, D.C.: VIII International Congress on Archives, 1976; Charles M Dollar, "Appraising Machine-Readable Records, "The American Archivist, Volume 41, Number 4, October 1978, pages 23-30; C L Geda, C W Austin, and F X Blouin, Jr. (eds.), Proceedings of a Conference on Archival Management of Machine-Readable Records, Held at the Bentley Library, the University of Michigan February 1979. Society of American Archivists, Chicago, 1979.


6.1 This chapter is intended to provide readers with summary conclusions which are written in the form of recommended policies and practices, or guidelines. The numbers in parentheses refer to specific paragraphs of the study which contain a more detailed explanation of the subject(s) covered.

6.2 Archivists who are to be responsible for machine-readable records must become familiar with the basic terminology associated with data processing as well as with the operations of a computer system (1.2 to 1.41).

6.3 It is also important for archivists to be familiar with the nature of machine-readable records and how information in machine-readable form differs from other kinds of information, such as textual records and microforms (1.41 to 1.45). Machine-readable records have certain unique characteristics which must be known (1.46 to 1.49), as must the sources (1.50 and 1.51) and uses (1.51 to 1.55) of such records.

6.4 It is possible that some archival institutions may be unable to deal with machine-readable records because of limitations imposed by statutory or other regulatory authorities. This can include restrictions on the type or kind of records which the archival institution can acquire, as well as restrictions on the acquisition of recent records. There are a number of ways in which archival administrators can resolve these particular problem (2.3 to 2.9).

6.5 A number of issues arise when appraising machine-readable records with which archivists must be familiar. One is the existence of data in central government agencies which are often the compilation of data created by other government jurisdictions, with no indication as to what governmental level owns the data and controls access to the data (2.11 to 2.14). A second issue is the control of machine-readable records that are created as a result of government contracts or research grants (2.15 to 2.23).

6.6 It is crucial for EDP records management programmes to be established in order for archival repositories to be assured of having a systematic acquisition programme for machine-readable data. In this way archivists can properly identify and appraise the machine-readable records that are created in the particular jurisdiction in which they work. While one of the major rationales used for a traditional records management programme has been the savings that can be achieved by storing voluminous quantities of records used infrequently in low-cost storage sites, cost-benefit analyses for EDP records management are still in the infancy stage (2.26 to 2.36).

6.7 In traditional records management policy and procedures, disposal plays a major role. However, such is not the case in the EDP world for, left on their own, those who control computer systems would automatically delete unwanted or unnecessary information. Because of this, it is imperative that records schedules for machine-readable information be established at the system design or planning stage for new applications or programmes (2.38 to 2.51).

It is also important to remember that the archival limitations for information in machine-readable form may often be different from those for paper records (2.52).

6.8 Archivists will continue to work with records managers, at least to a certain extent, with respect to the scheduling of machine-readable records. However, it is the EDP personnel in the creating institutions with whom the archivists will need to work on a regular basis in order to ensure that machine-readable records are properly identified, inventoried, and scheduled.

6.9 The appraisal of machine-readable records involves the evaluation of the information contained in the records (content analysis) as well as an evaluation of the technical aspects of the records (technical analysis). The content analysis involves the traditional activities of archival appraisal combined with some new considerations particular to machine-readable records. Technical analysis, on the other hand, is a relatively new activity in the appraisal of records, but one which is of the utmost importance in the evaluation of machine-readable records.

6.10 Machine-readable records may have evidential value if they contribute to the policies or decisions adopted by a department or agency, or if they provide documentation of significant operations or procedures. Examples of machine-readable records which may have evidential value are provided in that section of the study which deals with the application of content analysis to individual categories of information (3.18 to 3.66).

6.11 Archivists must also consider the legal value of the machine-readable records which they are appraising. There are at least three factors which could affect the assessment for legal value. The first is whether or not such records are admissible as evidence in a court of law (3.5). The second factor is the association of the records with copyright law, both nationally and eventually internationally. Of particular importance are any special provisions to cover computer programs or software (3.6).

The third factor is the existence of any acts which stipulate that certain kinds of records must be retained for certain periods of time to meet particular legal requirements. This is especially the ease when such acts include machine-readable data with their supporting documentation in the definition of "records" which must be retained for certain periods of time (3.7).

6.12 Another legal factor with which archivists must be familiar when appraising machine-readable records is the existence of any legislation which prevents the "export" of machine-readable records, usually containing personal information, from the country in which the records were created. This is how some countries have responded to the impact of electronically communicated transborder data flows.

There are several other sovereignty-related issues associated with the transborder data flow question of which archivists should also be aware (5.19 to 5.23).

6.13 The main appraisal judgment in terms of content analysis is the value of the information the records contain for uses other than those for which they were created. The determination of informational value of machine-readable records is similar to the evaluation of other types of information for potential research value - an evaluation of the significance of the subject content for current and future research. However, there are a number of factors unique to machine-readable records which must be considered in appraising such records for their informational value. One of these is the uniqueness of the information or its format (1.46 to 1.49, and 3.9 to 3.11). A second factor is the potential for record linkage (3.13). Another important factor to consider is the level of aggregation (3.12 and 5.12 to 5.18).

6.14 The content analysis must be performed in consultation with departmental users, data processors, and other individuals connected with the information described in the file. It is important to keep in mind that the content analysis cannot be undertaken without the archivist having first obtained detailed information on the organization, the information structure of the organisation, the purpose of the machine-readable data file, the methodology used, its use in the specific programme, its relationship to other programmes in the organisation, and even its value in terms of the user's own perception of its worth to both the organisation and potential research communities.

6.15 Before an assessment can be made on the historical or long-term research value of machine-readable records, it must first be determined if the information on the computer tape, punched cards floppy disks, etc. can be read (4.4 to 4.6). It must also be determined if there is sufficient documentation accompanying the machine-readable records, consisting at least of a record layout and a codebook, to appraise and process the records and sufficient information for a researcher to use the records (4.7 and 4.8). If the data can be read and there is adequate documentation, then the archivist can proceed to the analysis of the contents of the

- machine-readable records and a more detailed technical analysis of the arrangement of the records and problems which could occur due to long-term storage.

6.16 In undertaking the detailed technical analysis, a number of factors must be taken into consideration. One of these is the size of the machine-readable data file. Should the size of the file pose difficulties, then the archivist might have to consider the possibility of obtaining only a sample of the records. In undertaking this, the archivist will have to determine the effect sampling might have on the informational value. It is important to keep in mind that sampling is not a substitute for appraisal. It is merely a very powerful tool at the disposal of the archivist in implementing an appraisal decision (5.24 to 5.35).

6.17 Another factor which must be addressed when undertaking the detailed technical analysis is the internal arrangement of the data. The arrangement of the individual records on the reel of tape is rarely a major consideration, but the character codes used and the dependence on certain computer programs could have a major impact on the processing of the data (4.11 and 4.12).

6.18 The major consideration when undertaking the technical analysis is the hardware dependency of various storage media and the software dependency of certain formats of information. In both cases archivists must be aware of the costs associated with reformatting the data should this be required (4.13 to 4.16).

6.19 It must also be remembered that any machine readable records which are acquired must also be preserved. During the technical analysis the archivist should determine, if at all possible, the costs which will be required to preserve the data for a long period of time (4.17).

6.20 Two additional factors should also be considered. The archivist will need to determine who will fill service requests on the data _ whether the originating department or the archival repository. Should the data file be software and hardware dependent, it might be decided for the originating institution to handle all service requests. The nature of any restrictions on the data must also be determined. While the same kind of restrictions apply to machine-readable records as to textual records, the manner in which such restrictions are handled is different. If only certain portions of information are restricted, it is possible to remove all other portions of information from the file for research use, thereby creating a public use version of a restricted file. However, it is important for the archivist to consider the impact such measures would have on the informational value, as well as the cost of producing a public use version (4.18 and 4.19, as well as 5.5 to 5.18).

6.21 The analysis of the technical considerations of a machine-readable data file should lead to a more rational development of an approach to the acquisition, processing, conservation, and servicing of the data. The approach itself should be developed according to the willingness of an archival repository to absorb the costs associated with each of these archival functions. In order to assist in the evaluation of such technical attributes as software, hardware, size, and physical arrangement, and in order to provide a more systematic analysis of the archival functions, archivists may wish to use question-and-answer planning tools which can be developed for different kinds or types of data (4.35, 4.40, and 4.53).

6.22 It is at this stage that the archivist should bring together the results of the content analysis and technical analysis and justify the decision to acquire the records or to reject the records. Should the appraisal decision be favourable, it is suggested that a plan of action be developed, using information contained in the planning tools referred to in paragrph 6.21 above. Such an action plan could cover the acquisition, processing, conservation, and servicing functions (4.58 to 4.66).

6.23 It is possible that, because of the substantial costs of long-term preservation which includes the conversion of the data to current formats so as to prevent technological obsolescence, not all machine-readable data files acquired by an archival repository will be retained forever. In order to determine which data files should be maintained and for how long, archival administrators might wish to consider the establishment of a reappraisal policy. As a practical way to implement such a policy, upon acquisition by an archival repository all machine-readable data files could be issued a review data (5.35 to 5.40).

Marilla B Guptil


Control of records production is of universal concern, as is the capacity to reduce the resulting volume through comprehensive disposition programmes. However, the appraisal of records and utilisation of an appropriate methodology of selection for their disposition is one of the most difficult of archival functions because it is neither automatic nor systematic; rather, it is intellectually-taxing, time-consuming and, varyingly subjective. The major objective of this study, therefore, is to provide guidelines by which to lessen the arbitrariness of appraisal and to increase its systematisation through precautionary measures requiring close co-ordination between records management and archival functions. Thse objectives are expressed through the medium of the appraisal of records of international organisations: what has been preserved and why, and what ought to be preserved and why.

Structurally, the study first explores appraisal criteria in terms of values that affect the preservation and disposal of records. Although developed toward the study's beginning and, therefore, outside the conclusion, they actually form part of the guidelines. There are two reasons for their placement and broad treatment. First is the futility of establishing guidelines to fit each organisation. It is true that to some degree, there is similarity in records of international organisations because of their common institutional nature and purpose. All of these bodies, in one way or another, deliberate; make recommendations and resolutions; initiate studies; receive and consider reports; supervise and monitor the execution of agreements; give technical assistance; dispense advice; and maintain contacts with other United Nations entities, Member States, non-governmental and private organisations, and external experts. However, because of variance in the mission and administrative hierarchy of each organisation, such differences are also reflected in the records produced. Therefore, development of general guidelines that are adaptable to specific situations is the only viable means of presentation. Second, the positioning of general criteria as background to description of the appraisal experience within these organisations prevents the perimeters of experience from limiting those of the criteria. General inactivity in the field of appraisal, discovered during the course of the survey, would certainly have circumscribed the exposition of value standards.

Methodology of records selection is next treated as a complement to appraisal criteria, as it is the vehicle for records disposition according to established values. Such discussion also demonstrates the effect of arrangement and classification systems on selection.

A description of appraisal practices, based on questionnaires and on-site visits, follows. Both the issues of value and selection are involved, but another dimension appears. Status, resources, and authority of records offices may affect the results of appraisal, where exercised, almost as much as its methodology. For this reason the study's conclusions and guidelines touch on what seems, at first, to be peripheral to the main subject.

However, because such topics are secondary they are treated only as they relate to the appraisal process and not in their entirety.


The study of records appraisal in international organisations shows that appraisal is not a singular exercise, but a continuous process affecting the entire life-cycle of records. It has also been demonstrated that records systems and the presence of absence of information on provenance affect records selection. These premises lead to conclusions that have been supported by actual appraisal experience: that is, the need for a total records programme in which records management and archival functions are joined. It is only logical that if appraisal is a constant factor in the life-cycle of records, controls over them should be equally enduring. If the contents and arrangement or classification of dossiers affect the quality of how and what is preserved as archival, then attention to such matters ought to precede selection.

Elements that appear external to appraisal, such as the placement of the records office in he organisation's bureaucracy and its functions, staffing and authority, bear directly on the completeness and quality of records to be appraised, the ability to arrive at well-considered and justifiable decisions, and the probability of their implementation. Appraisal should be judged by results, rather than by methodology alone. Meaningful appraisal cannot occur without adequate resources and the records themselves, for appraisal technique, by itself, ensures neither.

The following guidelines present maximum goals. For organisations where the very establishment of an Archives unit has been repeatedly denied, they may appear as a "wish list", and for others, there may be protracted difficulties before they are even partially achieved. The unfortunate facts are that office reorganisations and authority directives require approval from top administrators, and co-operation from records-creating offices cannot always be mandated, much less enforced. Nevertheless, these goals should be sought, even if their attainment is piecemeal, for the appraisal experience of international organisations amply demonstrates the effect of their absence.


6.1 Placement of the Records Office in the Organisation

Records offices should be removed from administrative services and placed at par with other of the organisation's information services so as to position them at a sufficiently high level in the organisation to ensure proper recognition, authority, independence and adequacy of resources, including the ability to attract personnel experienced in archives and records management. Not only would such a move end the eclipse of the records office and its needs by the housekeeping services, but it would cause a shift in status. Administrators in substantive offices with whom co-operation is necessary would be more approachable and receptive to personnel considered as equals rather than warehouse managers.

6.2 Delineation of Functions : Registry, Records Management and Archives

Records management should be incorporated into the archival function within an archives and records management office. Registries can operate separately within this office or as an appendage to records management, but should continue to manage current records within their purview.

Records management should oversee all current records by devising classification and filing schemes appropriate to each administrative unit excepting records integrated into a registry; review files management procedures to ensure that all records enter the system, whether it is a registry, decentralised non-registry or a combination of the two; inventory all current and semi-current records of the organisation so that appraisal decisions are based on consideration of all the organisation's records; draft retention schedules based on inventories and primary records values in consultation with records-creating offices; and monitor the disposal of records lacking secondary value.

Archives officers should have final authority over the disposition programme, thereby ruling on retention schedules proposed by records managers and administrators; overseeing accession standards in terms of the quality of information provided by records transferring offices; and reappraising records transferred to the Archives unit on the basis of continuing value, or because they were prematurely judged to have enduring value.

6.3 Direction of the Archives and Records Management Office

The Archives and Records Management Office should be headed by an archivist who is familiar with records management. Consideration of records management and archives functions leads logically to this conclusion. After satisfying the organisation's operating needs, records are reduced in volume, and those with continuing value are deposited in an archives. Records managers and archivists contribute to this progression in different ways and at opposite ends of the records' life-cycle. Records management is "concerned with achieving economy and efficiency in the creation, use and maintenance, and disposition of records". Through the efforts of records managers, archivists are presented with coherently arranged records, inventories of the organisation's holdings and information on primary records value, so that they can assign long-term value and thus determine the longevity of records. The activities of both functions should be closely co-ordinated, as one is built on the other, but because archivists define archives and exercise custodial responsibility over them, the archival function should take precedence.

6.4 Education and Training

Archivists recruited by international organisations should have an academic degree in history or other social sciences and broad archives experience, to insure knowledge of historical methodology and trends on which to base judgments concerning evidential and informational values. Determination of evidential values requires research experience and analytical ability for the conduct of in the organisation, office authorities and interrelationships that devolve upon the records they produce and, subsequently, allows the isolation of records that depict the plans, policies, procedures and programmes of the organisation. A background in history is particularly relevant to assessment of informational value, as it is necessary to be familiar with documentation that is currently available for research and imagine what sources might later be valuable. An archivist cannot define historiographical trends with certainty, and there is always the chance that future generations will find fault with judgments. However, the impossibility of forecasting only underscores the need for professionals well-trained in history and archives who will sometimes err, but will come closer to target than those without this background. More important than content knowledge is familiarity with historical methodology and "empathy" for research, for expertise in all research fields is impossible.

At the paraprofessional, or in UN parlance, the general service level, proper recruitment and training is important, as the quality of codification and filing is essential to the reliability of registry systems. It has been observed that messengers and clerical staff are often transferred to registry offices and that there is a need to devise a technique of personnel selection in order to determine "aptitude, analytical judgment, cognative ability, assessment of files problems and their solution, and manual dexterity (where applicable)" in prospective staff. To fail to do so means continued apprehension about the integrity of file titles, codes and contents.

6.5 Authority

6.5.1 Public Relations

In order to gain co-operation from offices in terms of files management, timely transfer of records and information needed to analyse them, records offices should continously demonstrate to others, especially those at high levels where reorganisation and budgetary decisions are made, that their services are professional and impact heavily on the organisation.

Bureaucratic influence usually requires the backing of authority, preferably in written form. But influence is enhanced when authority-by-fiat is augmented by general recognition of the value of services to be offered. The ability to streamline the flow of paper and remove the non-essential, rationalism records management, remove non-current records for the release of office space, provide reference service from the intermediate storage area and maintain a research facility, should be advertised. General distribution of an annual report or pamphlet in which statistics on metres of records transferred, office space released, loans furnished and reference request handled, would be far more effective than generalities about intended programmes or services. However, demonstrable service and benefits are most effective in gaining the co-operation of administrators whose primary interests are neither records management nor archives.

6.5.2 Written Authority

While amiable relations with administrators are essential, they are not reliable, for staffing is never permanent, and co-operative situations shift with personnel changes; therefore, the responsibilities and relationships of records and operating offices should be institutionalised in an official regulation. Such regulation should minimally incorporate the following points.

6.5.3 Definition of Records and Staff Responsibilities

Records should be defined as all recorded information, regardless of physical form, created or received in the course of the organisation's business. They should be claimed specifically as the property of the organisation. To eliminate loopholes, removal of records from the organisation's premises by any staff member, during employment or upon separation, should be expressly prohibited. Further, "staff member" should be defined to include all personnel, including the chief executive officer.

6.5.4 Responsibilities of the Records Office

Records offices should be charged with files management, the conduct of periodic records surveys, establishment of retention schedules based on survey inventories, implementation of the mandatory transfer of records from operating offices to intermediate storage and authority over records disposition under its archives component. The date of transfer should be set at three to five years after creation or, in special cases requiring extensions, upon mutual agreement between the parties in order to prevent accumulations outside records office control.

6.5.5 Responsibilities of the Operating Offices

Operating offices should be charged with the timely transfer of semi-current records per schedules agreed upon by both parties unless the need for exception can be demonstrated, and disposal of records should be clearly prohibited without the express approval of the records office. Further, the appointment of records liaison personnel, at least at the division level, should be required.

The above guidelines are closely interconnected, as the existence of a liaison officer would obviate lack of control over non-current records that tend to sit indefinitely in operating offices. Such an officer would provide a locus of responsibility and contact for records officers as well as serve as a source of information about the Length of time records are needed to discharge obligations of the organisation and of records profiles needed for appraisal.

Records Surveys and Inventories

6.6 Because records should be appraised in relation to other records of the organisation, it is axiomatic that all records be accounted for in an inventory resulting from a records survey. Surveys should be conducted even in organisations where it appears that records are covered by a registry because of the existence in offices of strays from the system due to negligence, or hoarding of documentation for convenience or reference purposes.

All records, produced at every level of the organisation, current and non-current, should be identified. Excepting registries, for which there are file plans, identification should be at the series level, for this represents the lowest common denominator of similarity and is the preferable level at which records should be analysed and retention periods applied. Because it will be the foundation for a general disposition programme, the survey should gather the following basic information for each series: the office of origin, including the sub-division that produced the records; a series description consisting of a series title, identification of major record types, content and inclusive dates; measurement and estimate of annual accumulation; arrangement, if not under an established registry system; location; current usage; relationship to other records; access restrictions; and recommendations for retention. Above all, descriptive vagueness should be avoided, as it dilutes information upon which the disposition programme is based. The office of origin should be prevailed upon to supply accurate and complete information. Slipshod information should be rejected, as it ultimately undermines the appraisal process. The inventory, together with records samples, should be a basis for records analysis and retention schedules.


6.7 Records Systems

Arrangement and classification patterns should be refined in order to clarify differences among records. Appraisal and selection of records in non-registries depends largely on the presence of information on provenance and separation of series organically formed as a result of office functions and activities. Analyses based on these considerations determine evidential and information values that are further qualified by factors of uniqueness, concentration of information and other measurements of value enumerated in section 3.2. Therefore, records reflecting similar activity, subject or format should be grouped together and their mergence avoided. The more precise the series, the more easy to identify it, judge its value and effect its proper disposition.

The absence of conveniently available information on provenance in registries and the need to conduct appraisal at the dossier or subject code level calls for a different type of specificity, whereby subject codes should be manipulated to effect distinctions, where possible, between the substantive and facilitative, and between policy and operational matters. Under the common subject "Fellowships", for example, records codified as "Programme Evaluation" pertain to policy matters having long-term value, while those filed under "Individual Fellowships" or "Inter-Agency

Co-ordination" relate to short-term operational matters concerning administrative details of programme execution. Similarly, under "Aid to Africa", records filed as "Background Information" and "Distribution of Equipment", respectively, reflect substantive and facilitative differences. Attention to such distinctions reduces mixtures of records having long and short-term value within files. Although the dossier level of appraisal differs from the series level approach in non-registries, the effect of refining distinctions is the same: easier evaluation and disposition.

6.8 Filing to Effect Separation

Differences in appraisal of non-registry systems have been explained as, on one hand, judgments concerning the "total organic accumulation of an office" through the selection of whole series, and on the other, selection of "dossiers within certain classes (series)"; further, selection of individual dossiers in the former case is considered a violation of "organic character and archival integrity of the series", whereas the latter requires weeding of dossiers within series. However, screening, or stripping within files in untenable in both systems because of cost in staff and time, as well as sacrifice in uniformity and objectivity of selection. Therefore, records whose short-term value can be predetermined should be separated from those with continuing value, and those with no value beyond immediate usage should be kept out of the system altogether. Such a measure, is, in effect, preventive screening.

When in the life-cycle of records this occurs determines by whom it is done. The notion that administrators should control the burgeoning of records through excision of the non-essential is not new. But the benefit of winnowing records of the non-valuable in the early part of their life is offset by the conversion of administrators into de facto archivists because archives are formed from the residuary of administrative disposals. In fact, current acceptance of appraisal as an archival function has thrust decisions on how to reduce non-current records upon archivists, and the ability to lessen bulk without a commensurate reduction in value rests largely on the degree to which records with value and those without are intermingled. Authorship of the ILO's appraisal plan, described in section, shows clearly that records evaluation and selection were considered within the archival function, as does the Archives Committee's determination of retention periods for specific ILO activities. But the application of retention periods to dossiers containing record items of mixed value caused the Committee to advocate the preservation of entire files on the basis of one or more valuable items. Thus the inability to strip individual dossiers of acknowledged ephemera was one of the plan's stumbling blocks.

There is an alternative method which combines the better elements of both administrative and archival appraisal, namely, the ability to separate records having temporary value into collateral dossiers at the time of filing for later disposal, but under the direction of records offices. Records office authority distinguishes this system from administrative appraisal: the timing of separation differentiates it from the ILO plan. To effect early separation, broad classes of subjects and record types lacking long-term value should be listed under themes reflecting major office functions or subject matter series. Examples of major functions and subject matter series are buildings management, purchase and transportation, printing and reproduction, conferences and others of similar character. Subsidiary to these classes should be enumerated specific transactions, subjects and record types. Under conferences and meetings, for example, programme schedules, invitation lists, agendas and the like would be listed as temporary and eligible for separate. Where records produced by an office are generally of this genre, or where they concentrate under certain registry themes, this separation cannot occur. Its merits are limited to mixed records, such as correspondence files, and for this reason, it is particularly adaptable to the registry system.

However, the technique of excluding the more transitory of short-term records, those having only immediate value or no value at all, applies to all systems. IAEA's "through mail", already mentioned, defines documentation of a transitory nature, and items earmarked as "papiers de corbeille" by French archivists include duplicate copies, items routed to wrong offices and on which no action is taken, invitations, rough drafts and the like. Peripheral materials discussed in section can be added to this category.

These several preventive measures cannot create a pristine system in which each record that enters has enduring value. In registry systems, documents produced by lower-ranked operational offices will be mixed with those coming from above when the functions and activities of several converge and their records are filed in common. The existence of all kinds of records cannot be envisaged in order to categorise them in advance according to desired longevity, for records creation is not totally predictable and there are different durations of short-term value. At least, pre-screening blocks the most non-essential and obviously short-term items from entering the body of records that is to endure.

6.9 Extant Records

Unfortunately, refinements in arrangement, classification and filing cannot be applied retroactively to records that already exist. To recapitulate, record of international organisations consist of centralized or decentralised registries and decentralised non-registries. Many of their characteristics are in opposition. Central registries are unitary systems that arrange records by subject so that organic cohesion exists within files whose contents are mixtures of varying provenance and retention values. Consequently, appraisal occurs at the file level on the basis of informational value. Evidence of the organisation, is derived from contextual information rather than the way in which records were created and maintained. Conversely, non-registries are decentralised systems in which records have organic cohesion as series arising out of commonality of subject, activity or format, to which office of origin and retention values can be ascribed. As a result, they are appraised for evidential and informational value at the series level. Decentralised registries combine elements of each. They are unitary within their frame of reference and should therefore be appraised at the file level according to informational value. However, the fact of their decentralisation means that records can be identified by source, not at the lowest administrative level as in non-registries, but intermediately, at the divisional level, for example. With these distinctions in mind, records in decentralised non-registries are most receptive to evaluation because of the ability to identify them by series and source.

The appraisal of records in a centralised registry is most difficult because the weeding process that it necessitates is not totally objective, and the unreliability of file content involves risk in selections for disposal. Such caveats do not require that registries be kept in toto. Easily segregable administrative records with obvious short-term value should be disposed. These are generally concentrated under major themes or sub-themes relating to administrative matters, such as those described in section 6.8. In decentralised registries, such records are located in those registry components that cover administrative units of the organisation, Some administrative records are common to all institutional areas, including substantive offices and functions, and where they can be identified and separated, they should be culled for disposal. Because of the volume of administrative records and the space released by their elimination, such undertakings are usually worth the minimal effort that they require.

Lists of disposed file titles should be maintained so that, in combination with the files preserved, there is a complete picture of all that was once in the registry. They also serve as precedents for future disposals. Further selection of files whose value is not so clearly short-term is not worth the time and effort.

6.10 Sampling

The survey of records generated by international organisations revealed the existence of case files maintained either within or parallel to registries. Because they are bulky, and it is not usually necessary to keep all the information they collectively contain, reduction in their volume is particularly desirable.

Partial retention, or sampling, provides an alternative to total retention or destruction. Technique depends on the appraisal of records to be sampled and the reasons for their preservation, but the several procedures possible fall under one of two sampling methods: selective or statistical. In selective sampling, records are chosen for their significance. This is a subjective judgment, and results are more biased than the sample proceeding from statistical sampling, which is systematic and objective. No matter what the method, records should be both voluminous and homogenous.

Consequently, sampling is especially adaptable to case files, which are "homogeneous in general form, in the procedures they represent, and in the areas of activity in which they deal", despite the different subject of each file.

The interjection of sampling into an appraisal study is not to suggest that it is a means of avoiding appraisal decisions; rather, such judgments must precede sampling applications. If records have high concentrations of value, or are purely administrative or facilitative, it is purposeless to sample them. Instead, it should be viewed as an option in records disposition especially adaptable to records dissimilar to those already described in registry or non-registry systems.

6.11 Conclusion

It is highly doubtful that a systematic and objective method of appraisal will ever be devised, given the uniqueness of each institution and its records, the impossibility of forecasting all future research needs relativity of records values and dependency of records selection on arrangement and classification systems.

Also in question is the feasibility of making all determinations of value at the file level. The worth of appraisal is linked to its purpose, which is the reduction of records in order to release space, lessen maintenance costs and render those that remain more manageable for research. Appraisal decisions cannot be black and white, so that records having any value are saved and those having no value are destroyed. Rather, records should have sufficient value to justify their continued preservation. If then, as in the case of central registries, only records having short-term value can be safely disposed and appraisal beyond this level involves risk with limited results, why continue an exercise that fails to pay both in intellectual and economic terms?

Therefore, it should be recognised that appraisal is not a single episode in the life-cycle of records and that what enters the records system is as important as what leaves it. Early planning for records maintenance and disposition, and incorporation of responsibility for these records management activities into the archival function, will help to achieve such goals.

Eric Ketelaar


1. This study is intended to assist information policy and planning specialists; those involved in proposing, drafting and reviewing legislation and administrative regulations; and especially archivists and records managers, in creating, developing and evaluating modern archival and records management systems and services, particularly in the public administration. Based upon an analysis of current legislation and regulations in nearly 120 countries, the study concludes with a set of guidelines to assist in planning or reviewing the legal and administrative instruments essential for viable systems and services.

2. Unesco and the International Council on Archives (ICA) have been concerned for a number of years with archival legislation, and Unesco's assistance to Member States in the development of infrastructures for archives and records management has generally included advice on archives and records management legislation. 1. Regional seminars have also been sponsored or organised by Unesco and ICA to increase awareness of the importance of archival legislation among archivists and administrators in different parts of the world. A Manual of Tropical Archivology , written under the aegis of the ICA and published in 1966 with the co-operation of

Unesco, contains a valuable chapter on principles of archival legislation and regulation which still deserves attention. 2.

3. In addition, ICA has devoted four volumes of its review Archivum (those for 1967-1971) to the publication of archival legislation of countries in all parts of the world, a fifth volume appeared in

1982, updating the former publication. In the past decade twenty countries have adopted new basic archival legislation. This "eloquently expresses the breadth of the movement towards renewal and of the growth of archival awareness taking place, a movement in which the activities of Unesco and the International Council on Archives clearly play a leading part". 3.

4. A further contribution towards harmonizing archival legislation was Unesco's publication in 1972 of a Draft Model Law on Archives, by S Carbone and R Gueze. This work, however, was too closely based on Latin, especially Italian, archival legislation to be of direct value to countries with a different experience. 4.

5. In 1972 Unesco organised an Expert Consultation on planning national archives services which endorsed a proposal to prepare a study concerning planning of archival infrastructures, of which guidelines on legislation and regulation should be a component. Partly on the basis of these recommendations B Delmas included in his contribution to J H d'Olier-B.Delmas, Planning national infrastructures for documentation, libraries and archives; outline of a general policy (1975), 5. criteria for archival legislation and regulations, together with an outline model law on archives.

6. Finally, the 1977 Unesco publication Establishing a legislative framwork for the implementation of NATIS 6. contains a checklist of points which should be considered for inclusion in legislation for a national archives system. These points are elaborated by Mr A W Mabbs in two chapters, "Legislation for public records and the National Archives" and the "Co-ordination of national archive services", which deal with the broad criteria which might be applied in drafting archival legislation.

These chapters are of value for any archivist and administrator; they are based upon professional analysis of existing legislation and mature experience of archival needs, especially in developing countries.

7. All of the above indicated studies refer to legislation, published in Archivum and elsewhere in general terms only. For a better understanding and a more thorough synthesis, however, an analysis and comparison of current legislation is essential. The recently published volume 28 of Archivum has widened the field for such an analysis. Like several of the previous studies the present one offers a checklist and guidelines on subjects which should be considered for inclusion in archival legislation. These RAMP Guidelines, however, devote more attention to specific legislative questions concerning records management and they express preferences under specific circumstances for certain alternatives. They also indicate which provisions are considered essential, as contrasted with those that are only desirable or optional, depending upon conditions and circumstances in a particular country, with special attention to record-keeping traditions and administrative practices.

8. The analysis of current legislation and regulations is based mainly on texts as published in Archivum. Excluded from these texts, however, are details of internal organisation, of archives services and their functioning, regulations on professional training and status of archives personnel, and detailed rules for selection, transfer, arrangement and description of archives. Information about these subjects has been provided at the author's request from a selection of countries :


L R Mendez, Chief of Department, National Archives


W I Smith, Dominion Archivist


M Duchein, Inspector General, National Archives


J Molnar, Director, National Archives


I Gal, Director General, National Archives


S Mbaye, Director, National Archives


O Gauye, Director, Federal Archives

9. In addition to the legislation published in Archivum and the publications listed in the Bibliography, the following documents have also been consulted:

Archives Bill 1983 (Australia);

Draft-Federal Archives Law (Federal Republic of Germany); Royal decree on records management 1980 (Netherlands); Rhode Island (US) Archives and Records Management Act (draft); Ordinance 1964: 504 concerning the use of writing material for state business (Sweden); Presidential Records Act of 1978, United States, 44 USC, chapter 22; Public Record Law 1972 (Cyprus)

11. This study makes the following distinction between legislation and regulations. Legislation is the product of the highest legislative authority of a nation (or, in a federal structure, a state), in a form appropriate to the constitution. Regulations may be regarded as embracing all measures concerned with the enforcement of legislation stricto sensu, i.e. those enactments established by the legislature (Parliament with the collaboration of the executive body). Regulations, however, may be enacted by any administrative authority with regulatory powers. 7. In this study the term legislation is often used in a broad sense, encompassing both formal laws and regulations.

12. When referring to archival legislation and regulations of a particular country which has been either published in Archivum or been mentioned in paragraph 9, the exact location is provided only in the case of a quotation. Please note that legal texts in languages other than English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish were translated into one of these languages for publication in

Archivum. If the text has been published in a language other than English, the author of this study has substituted his own translation, not from the original, but from the text as published.

In this study countries are indicated with their short name in English according to the international standard ISO-3166-1981.


1. Two recent examples: C V BLACK, Grenada; archival development (FMT/PG1/81/182) (Unesco, Paris 1981);

F B EVANS, The Republic of Cyprus: development of an archival and records management programme (FRM/PG1/81/166) (Unesco, Paris 1981) (PP/1981-1983/5/10. 1/03).

2. BAUTIER, Principles of archival legislation (see bibliography for full citation).

3. Foreword to Archivum, vol.28, p.16.

4. For a critical review of this publication, see S C NEWTON, Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol. 4, nr.8 (October 1973) pp. 654-659. The draft model was copied to a great extent in the Algerian archival law of 1977.

5. DELMAS, Archives.

6. Establishing a legislative framework for the implementation of NATIS

7. BAUTIER, Principles of archival legislation, p.33.


5.0 Introduction

187. This chapter provides a summary of the main subjects which should be considered for inclusion in archival legislation and regulations. A number of these subjects have already been treated in the NATIS GUIDELINES (chapter IV and V), but in order to present a set of self-containing guidelines, this study cites, where appropriate, the relevant parts of the NATIS recommendations as NG, with the paragraph number. Other references are to paragraph numbers in the present study.

188. This summary distinguishes between essential subjects that should be treated in the law and matters that are desirable or optional and that could be treated in regulations. The greatest care must be taken in applying these guidelines to the structure and objectives of the archival services in a given country. Regulations can more easily be changed than laws and offer consequently a flexible basis for the implementation of archival and records management programmes. Their flexibility, however, could prove to be a disadvantage in times of political or financial difficulties since archival and records management programmes may be altered through simple change of the regulations or even through interpretation of too flexible regulations.

Regulations issued by the minster responsible for the Archives may lack the necessary authority with institutions responsible to other minsters. Therefore, the law should define clearly the distribution of competencies and authorities.

In most countries the hierarchy of legislation includes, after the law (Act of Parliament) but before ministerial regulations, ordinances, decrees, etc. issued by the Crown, the President, or the Council of Ministers, etc. Where possible, regulations with such a supra-ministerial authority are preferable to regulations by a minister or by the archival administration itself. In general, the demarcation between the law and regulations depends to a great extent on the legal tradition and administrative practices in a particular country.

5.1 Definition of records and archives in general (see pare. 13-25)

189. Every archival law should define public records in order "to avoid ambiguity about the scope of the responsibility of the National Archives" (NG pare. 125). To set out the difference between archival legislation and legislation in other information fields, it is essential that the definition of records makes it clear that records are created, received and maintained by an institution or individual in the transaction of its business. It is not always advisable to restrict the definition to public records, because legislation will necessarily affect, to some extent, private records and archives.

190. Enumeration of physical types or forms in the definition of records always lags behind new technology, and thus creates continuing problems of interpretation. Therefore, a definition in general language, covering recorded information, regardless of physical forms or characteristics, is essential (NG pare. 126). Such a general definition could be elaborated in regulations or a circular letter, by giving a non-exhaustive enumeration of types and forms of documents and other materials that are included in the definition.

5.2 Definition of public records and archives (see pare. 26-32).

191. "It is important that legislation for public records should be applied not only to the whole range of bodies which discharge the legislative, judicial and administrative functions of the State, but also to State-controlled corporations and all other organisations directly or indirectly controlled by government, which can be considered as public bodies. Failure to provide for statutory control over the widest possible range of public bodies defeats much of the purpose of archival legislation" (NG pare. 127). A definition referring to the origin of records (i.e. to provenance) tends to reflect the professionally accepted definition of records (pare. 15), rather than a definition that refers to ownership. The last type, however, which has been linked with the British concept of "undisturbed custody" of records as the basis for their evidential value, is used where the intention is to include historical manuscripts and other documentary property belonging to the State. "Whatever method of definition is used, it is desirable to ensure against omission or future changes in the status of public bodies by providing some formal means, without resort to new legislation, of extending statutory control to any records which on grounds of a technical interpreation of the definition or for other reasons, appear to be excluded" (NG pare. 127).

5.3 Inalienability and imprescribility of public archives (see pare. 33-37)

192. Public archives are public property, part of the public domain, and therefore inalienable and imprescribable. These qualities of archives may, depending on the law of a given country, be made explicit in an archival law. The National Archives should have a right to replevin (or, at least, a right to make copies) of public archives which have gone astray (NG pare. 145).

5 4 Non-public archives (see pare. 38-50)

193. The National Archives should be entitled by law to acquire private archives (NG pare. 143). Legislation should be considered making the National Archives responsible for the compilation and maintenance of a register of all archives of non-public provenance and all documentary collections with research value. The law should oblige owners and custodians of such "registered" archives to preserve them in the best available conditions. Any change in the place of their deposit should be reported; and any proposal to sell or otherwise dispose of them should be referred to the appropriate authority. Export of such archives should be forbidden, or should be subject to the approval of the competent archives authority (NG pare. 159). The State may be given a right to preferential purchase of private archives.

5.5 Functions and organisation, of public archives services (see pare. 51-61)

194. The following functions of public archives services (national, regional, local and special archival institutions) should be statutory, apart from records management functions outlined in paragraphs 200 and 201 :

i) the safe custody in suitable buildings and in suitable environmental conditions of all (national) archives, from whatever public or non-public source transferred, including archives in audio-visual, machine-readable and all other forms;

ii) the arrangement and classification of archives according to accepted archival principles and methods;

iii) the provision of means of reference by whatever means are available and appropriate in order to facilitate access to archives and the retrieval of information in them;

iv) the provision of search or reference rooms in which suitable facilities are available for the inspection of archives which are lawfully open to the public, and the provision of other reference services (for dealing with postal inquiries, etc.) which are necessary;

v) the provision of facilities for making copies of archives by photographic or other reprographic processes, and for selling such copies;

vi) the provision of facilities for the repair and conservation of archival material of all kinds by appropriate methods;

vii) the publication of guides, texts, calendars, inventories, finding-aids and any other works suitable for publication prepared by staff of the Archives or commissioned by the Archives;

viii) the promotion of the educational value of archives in appropriate ways including the preparation of exhibitions and the loan of documents to exhibitions organised by other institutions (NG para.148).

195. The formal authority to take actions in respect of public records may be vested with the Minister or with the National Archives or some supreme archival authority. The NATIS Guideline (NG para.151) does not express a preference. There are good reasons, however, to prefer a distinction between professional and political responsibilities, to be reached by giving the National Archives a form of self-government and keeping them somewhat independent from the Minister.

In most countries it is not a task for legislation to define the internal organisation, of any organisation, or its staffing arrangements. It is essential, however, for public archives legislation to authorise the appointment of the head of the National

Archives and to define his statutory duties and responsibilities. Details of internal structure and organisation, which require some degree of flexibility to meet changing conditions, and the recruitment and qualifications of staff, are matters for which statutory authority is usually considered unnecessary and may be dealt with by the general staffing regulations drawn up for the Government service (NG para.149).

196. Regarding the internal organisation, of archives services, inclusion in the law may fix the organisation, leaving not much possibility for development and necessary changes. Delmas gives a theoretical organisation, chart of an archives service in three stages of growth. In 1977 the following principles were adopted by The National Association of State Archives and Records Administrators (United States) to assist the several States in the establishment and operation of State archival and records management agencies :

i) Legislation:

Comprehensive legislation which recognises the fundamental nature of the relationship of government records as instruments of accountability by the government to the people, evidence of public and private rights and obligations, an informational source on matters involving the continuous administration and management of the government; preserves the patrimony of the State as evidenced in its records; and provides exclusive authority to carry out archives and records management functions and responsibilities on a government-wide basis.

ii) Institutional identity:

The institutional character of the agency as the repository of the permanently valuable records of the government to provide sufficient autonomy for its protection against political interference, inclduing tenure for the agency head, civil service protection for its personnel; and control of agency facilities, equipment and resources.

iii) Organisational placement:

Placement within the government that prevents the submission of the agency beneath competing interests; eliminates blurring of functions with other professional agencies and disciplines; protects against interference with agency program responsibilities under the colour of co-ordination authority; and eliminates hampering supervision and control by having little or no professional knowledge of its program responsibilities and operations.

iv) Program authority:

Sufficient authority for the agency to define records problems and needs of the State, to prescribe appropriate programs, and to effectively administer the programs.

v) Exclusive responsibility:

Exclusive program responsibilities that do not diffuse the primary responsibility of the agency for government records.

vi) Appropriation and expenditure:

Funding by direct appropriation to the agency by the Legislature with authority to budget and expend such funds.

vii) Internal policy

Exclusive agency determination of the internal policies and professional needs of the agency.

viii) Regulations and standards:

Power to prescribe and enforce rules, regulations and standards relating to government records administration.

5.6 National archives system (see para.62-69)

197. "Always a matter of legislative concern, the organisation, of public archives is closely related with the administrative system of each country". In any circumstances it will be necessary to establish a central organisation, with executive and advisory functions, responsible to a Minister charged with the implementation of an agreed national archives policy (see paragraph 198). In some countries it would be appropriate for these co-ordinating functions to be exercised by the National Archives, or at least by a separate Directorate within it; in some it would be more suitable to create a separate executive authority; and in others, where it is constitutionally impossible to provide central direction, it should be possible to achieve some measure of co-ordination by a suitably constituted Advisory Council, with no executive powers (NG para.161).

5.7 Ministerial responsibility (see pare. 70-72).

198. A matter which requires legislative action and which demands careful consideration is the choice of the minister responsible for the archives (NG para.150). The Natis guidelines review the arguments for placement of the archives under the minister for cultural affairs and express a preference for a minister who has a considerable degree of inter-ministerial influence or authority. Such a preference is based on the fact that an archives service should be deeply involved in across-the-board records management activities which might be more effectively performed with the support of such a minister. This matter was discussed during the 19th International Conference of the Round Table on Archives, which advocated placement at the highest level of inter-ministerial or supra-ministerial authority. But in this respect "no system can be said to be ideal", especially when one takes into account that the best placed minister is the one personally interested in the work of the archives, and such placement cannot be guaranteed by legislation.

5.8 Advisory Body (Archives Council) (see pare. 73-83)

199. In some countries there may be a preference to give the Archival Council executive and/or supervisory powers, depending on the structure of the national archives system (see pare. 197). In most archival laws, however, the Archives Council is simply an advisory body to enlist the participation/representation of producers and users of archives in the formulation and implementation of records management and archival policy. The law should determine the function, the main responsibilities and the composition of the Archives Council. The details of its membership and functioning should be regulated in regulations.

The Council should be consulted on all projects of a legislative character relating to records/archives, the establishment or modification of the archival network and all draft records schedules. It may be desirable to also consult the Council on postponement of transfer, restriction of access, and the training programme. The Council may be called upon to participate in the drafting or revision or archival legislation and/or regulations. The law should specify that the Archives Council consists of members ex officio (among them the National Archivist) and members appointed by the Head of State or the Council of Ministers.

5.9 Records management (see pare. 84-92)

200. The seventh International Congress on Archives (1972) highlighted the lack, in nearly all except the socialist countries, of special legislation which clearly formulates rights and obligations of administrative archives. The degree of control exercised by archive services over current records varies widely from one country to another. The very minimum should be a right of inspection (see pare. 202), together with control over appraisal, destruction and transfer (see pares 204 and 205). The involvement of the National Archives in records management should preferably extend to the formulating of standards, procedures and guidelines and training of agency records offices. Maximum involvement - statutory responsibility for the whole range of records management functions (desirable as it would appear to be) - will not be feasible in many countries, and indeed, in the USA there has been a recent revision in this position.

201. Regulations and/or circulars should regulate:

- responsibility of the registries

professional qualifications, training

- records creation (incl. forms management, standards on media, equipment and supplies, paperwork management)

- Filing (filing plans may be approved by the National Archives)

- security classification

- arrangement and description of records

- consultation, lending (communication of records/archives)

- reprography

- vital records management

- preservation

5.10 Right of inspection (see pare. 93-99)

202. The legal link between records management and the Archives is formed by giving the latter a right of inspection, not only regarding the disposal of records, but, in principle, of all records management functions and operations involved with current and semi-current records. Inspection is useless without a provision for sanctions as an ultimate remedy.

5.11 Records centres (see pare. 100-102)

203. There should be legislative authorisation, where possible, enabling a National Archives to establish and operate records centres if circumstances demand such action; power to compel government departments and agencies to transfer non-current records to a records centre is also necessary (NG pare. 133).

5.12 Appraisal and destruction (see pare. 103-115)

204. The law should oblige all bodies producing public records not to destroy without account being taken of long-term research values, and the National Archives must have responsibility for ensuring that such values are identified and that records of research interest are preserved (NG pare. 132).

5.13 Transfer (see pare. 116-131)

205. The main statutory requirement for transfer is that public records selected for permanent preservation (which have been in existence for more than a prescribed number of years) should be transferred to the National Archives (NG pare. 134).

5.14 Deposit of official publications (see pare. 132-136)

206. Prescription of legal deposit of books and other printed publications does not belong to the domain of archival legislation. However, a record copy of every government publication should be deposited in National Archives, whether or not a legal deposit with the National Library exists.

5.15 Preservation (see pare. 137-142)

207. The first responsibility of the National Archives, and indeed of any archival institution, is the safe custody in suitable buildings and environmental conditions of all archives. Legislation should authorise the National Archives to provide for facilities for the repair and conservation of archival material (NG pare. 148). The regulations should lay down security measures.

5.16 Arrangement and description (see pare. 143-149)

208. Legislation should ensure that all public records are kept under sufficient administrative and intellectual control. One of the functions of any archives service should be the arrangement and classification of archives according to accepted archival principles and methods and the publication of guides, inventories and other finding aids.

5.17 Access (see pare. 150-168)

209. The right of access to public records, subject to prescribed conditions intended to protect their safe custody and physical condition, should be clearly stated in archival legislation. The most important aspect of this matter for consideration is the term of years after the creation of documents during which public records should normally be kept closed and are not available for research. In most countries consideration of this question has led to the general opening of records when they are more than 25 or 30 years old. Whatever closure period is adopted, it is necessary to provide machinery for giving access to some documents after shorter or longer periods by making general exceptions, and to allow access to closed records by individual research workers in exceptional cases (NG pare. 140-142).

5.18 Reprography (see pare. 169-176).

210. It is desirable that archival legislation provide that there is no breach in copyright when any document, open to public inspection and in the custody of the National Archives or other public archives service, is copied or published (NG pare. 147).

211. It may be considered necessary to include in archival legislation a provision that the legal validity of records in government departments or other organisations is not affected by their transfer to the National Archives. Legislation should also provide that the National Archives or other archival authority lawfully holding such records may certify any copies of documents (NG pare. 146).

5.19 Personnel (see pare. 177- 182)

212. It is essential that the law provides a basis for detailed regulations on the recruitment, appointment, promotion, professional qualifications, and training of archives staff.

5.20 Enforcement (see pare. 187-186)

213. Apart from special penal provisions enforcing the right of inspection, the inalienability of public archives, the protection and control of the export of private archives and the professional secrecy of archivists and records managers, legislation should include a general clause prohibiting the damage, mutilation, destruction, and removal from custody of public archives.

William H Leary


Appraisal is undoubtedly the most complex and intimidating archival responsibility. Not surprisingly, it is also one of the most controversial subjects in the professional literature. The first instinct of any archivist is to save as much for posterity as possible. Few of us relish the task of identifying - especially in writing - records that cannot, or should not, or must not be saved. Photo archivists have developed an unusually strong impulse to avoid thinking about the need for selection. After all, we have told each other, the most urgent task is to save what remains of the early photographic legacy, a task which many institutions ignored until recently. The salvage of nineteenth century photography will remain an important responsibility of photo archives for the foreseeable future. Increasingly, however, the enormous bulk of twentieth century photography will force photo archivists to confront the necessity of appraisal, meaning selection.

The purpose of this study is to recommend general principles and specific selection criteria that should guide the appraisal of photographs in any archival instituion, particularly photographs created since World War II. Special considerations that apply to the appraisal of government or private photographs are also discussed. The proposed guidelines may well generate questions and disagreement in some areas. It is intended that in these areas the study will provide a framework for continuing, vigorous debate.

It is intended that this study will provide guidance to any archivist who encounters photographic materials, not merely the specialist. The author believes that photographs are such an important resource for understanding modern life that archives must make substantial efforts to overcome generations of relative neglect. He also recognises, however, that very few archival institutions have trained, full-time specialists to appraise and adminster photographic records. For the foreseeable future, therefore, the archival appraisal of photographs frequently will be performed by individuals with many other responsibilities, who may not be able to follow all the guidelines set forth in this study. Hopefully, more archival managers will recognise the need for full-time staff to administer photographic archives.


7.1 "Appraisal", writes Leonard Rapport; "is at best an inexact science, perhaps more of an art; and a conscientious appraiser, particularly an imaginative one with an awareness of research interests and trends, is apt to know nights of troubled soul-searching". (1)

Conscientious soul-searching should always remain a conspicuous hazard of the task of appraisal. Nevertheless, professional archivists must also continuously strive to define their art as systematically as possible. Because of the relatively late discovery of photography by archival institutions, scant attention has been devoted to studying the archival appraisal of photographs.

7.2 Perhaps the most painful discovery for many picture professionals is that photographs must be appraised. For the sake of scholarship, however, photo archivists must develop guidelines for selecting only a relatively small proportion of the current inundation of photographs, which exceeds 10 billion images annually. As Sam Kula observed in a recent RAMP study of the appraisal of moving images:

"....appraisal without selection, without either the deliberate scheduling of the documents not selected, or without the decision to acquire and protect certain documents in private hands while others available to the archives are allowed to self-destruct in private hands, is hardly a critical issue. If everything that is identified and scheduled is eventually accessioned then appraisal remains nothing more than the first phase of organisation, and description." (2)

7.3 The purpose of this study has been to discuss general appraisal principles that are relevant to the evaluation of photographs, to suggest specific criteria applicable to the appraisal of photographs, and to identify additional factors that must be considered when appraising governmental or privately created photographs. The guidelines emerging from this study often will require qualification or modification to meet the particular circumstances of the wide variety of archival institutions that acquire historical photography. Nevertheless, the goal of such a study is to develop broad guidelines that will encourage consistency in exercising the most difficult and significant archival responsibility. Improvement of these guidelines depends upon continuing debate and further studies. The numbers in parentheses following each guideline refer to previous sections of the study, which should be consulted for elaboration.

7 4 General Considerations

As an essential precondition to appraisal, several general policies should be adopted by archival institutions that are seriously engaged in acquiring historical photographs.

(1) Every archival institution that acquires photographs (a category that includes libraries and historical societies for the purposes of this study) should develop a written acquisition policy that reflects legal or formalobligations, careful consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of the institution's current holdings, and the accessioning interests of other institutions (2.4).

(2) Information about acquisition policies should be distributed widely to encourage greater co-operation and less competition among archival institutions. Archives cannot hope to preserve a full visual record of modern life without broadly and rationally dispersing the responsibility to acquire historical photographs (2.4).

(3) A dominant theme of all archival acquisition policies should be an emphasis on historical photographs, which are defined as any photograph capable of supporting the study or interpretation of history. Self-conscious art photography should be collected by art museums and specialized museums of photography, rather than archives (1.10 - 1.12).

(4) Archives should adhere strictly to the boundaries of their announced acquisition policies. Offers which do not fit clearly into an institution's holdings should be referred to a more appropriate agency (2.4).

(5) Photo appraisers should be advanced students of the history of photography as well as being thoroughly familiar with the general historical literature. Adequate preparation for appraisal should also include detailed knowledge of the photographs currently held by the appraiser's institution and extensive, if less detailed knowledge of the holdings of other institutions (2.5).

(6) Both government archives and those collecting from private sources should develop an aggressive records management program. Historically valuable photographs should be scheduled for accessioning directly into the archives as soon as possible in their life cycle (2.6).

(7) A records survey to gain information about photographs not in archival custody is the most critical component of an active records management program. It provides an opportunity to gather data that is crucial to making informed appraisals, and to educate photo creators about their responsibilities (3.1, 3.2).

(8) The survey must be comprehensive and reliable, which requires collecting data in a standardised format, and extensive personal contacts with agency personnel (3.3).

(9) The survey form must be carefully designed to collect information, at the series level, about the basic appraisal criteria: subject, data, volume, physical format, arrangement, nature and frequency of use, and related finding aids (3.3.1).

(10) The success of the survey depends upon timely and effective archival response to problems and opportunities encountered, especially to ensure that potentially valuable photographs are offered to the archives (3.6).

(11) Like other audiovisual materials, photographs have archival significance primarily because of their informational value rather than their evidential value, to use T.R. Schellenberg's terminology. Consequently, potential research use is the major determinant of archival value in photographs. All photo archives should carefully characterise the types of researchers they serve and the extent and purpose of the uses made of photographs in the archives (2.7).

(12) Authors and professional picture researchers usually want photographs of well-known people, places, and events. They demand high technical quality and they prefer to make selections from large numbers of related images. Professional historians who have used photographs to interpret the past rather than merely illustrate it have made imaginative use of photographs of less well-known people and places (2.7).

(13) The basic archival principle of provenance should guide the appraisal of photographs. Judgments normally should be made about an entire collection of photographs rather than discrete parts of it. Whenever possible, photographic records should be appraised only after full investigation of related audiovisual and textual records (2.8).

(14) Whenever photographs are inextricably related to other records, they should be appraised and processed together (with appropriate cross-references) rather than appraising the photographs independently and transferring them to a separate division of photographs (2.8).

(15) Cost should never be the sole determinant of whether photographic records should be preserved, but the rapidly escalating costs of preserving and servicing photographs cannot be ignored (2.9).

(16) Archival institutions should avoid the highly volatile marketplace in historical photographs, unless they have funds that must be spent for purchases. In exceptional circumstances, it may also be appropriate to purchase an unusually valuable collection that would otherwise be lost to historical research (2.9).

(17) All institutions should periodically review the continuing value of their photographic archives based primarily, but not exclusively, on statistics about use. Appraisal review should also include deliberate re-examination of current appraisal standards (2.10).

7.5 Appraisal Criteria

When evaluating a series of photographs offered to the archives, the appraiser must judiciously balance a variety of considerations, which cannot be quantified and usually have unequal significance. All appraisal decisions should be carefully documented, particularly negative appraisals, and periocially reviewed by the management of the archives. The following criteria are listed in the order in which they would normally be considered by an appraiser.

(18) Age:

There are two watershed dates in the archival history of photography. Photographs made prior to 1888, when George Eastman invented amateur photography, should be preserved unless the appraisal reveals an overriding shortcoming, such as uncorrectable physical deterioration.

Appraisal doubts about photographs made prior to 1932, when the 35mm camera transformed the nature of photography, should be resolved in favour of retention. Meaningful evaluation of the voluminous production of post-World War II photographs requires rigorous, even sceptical application of all appraisal criteria (4.1).

(19) Subject:

Subject matter is the most subjective, but also the most important appraisal criterion. Each institution should compile a list of subjects to which it assigns the highest priority as well as the lowest (4.2).

(20) When evaluating the subject significance of photographs, appraisers should recall the remarkable capacity of photographs to document the commonplace realities of life so often overlooked by more traditional historical sources (4.2).

(21) Uniqueness:

Archival institutions should not knowingly accession photographs that are duplicated at other institutions (4.3).

(22) Photo archives should treat the camera negative (or color transparency) as the record copy of any photograph (4.3).

(23) Identification:

The reliability and usefulness of historical photographs usually depends upon identification of the subject, date, location, names of people depicted, and photographer. Extensive research can compensate for inadequate or misleading captions, but completely unidentified photographs must be evaluated very sceptically by the archival appraiser (4.4).

(24) Quality:

Because photographs are examined for details and are meant to be reproduced, the appraiser should emphasise the importance of satisfactory technical quality, which includes proper exposure, clear focus, and good composition (4.5).

(25) Three physical types that present serious appraisal dilemmas are deteriorating nitrate or diacetate negatives, colour film, and 35mm photographs. The appraiser should identify nitrate or diacetate negatives so that preservation measures can be undertaken promptly and the full costs of accessioning considered. Because of the instability of colour film, it may not be possible, financially or technically, to preserve the colour in colour photographs - a factor which must be considered in appraisal. For a variety of reasons, the voluminous output of 35mm photographs should be appraised very rigorously, with particular attention to their quality, quantity, accessibility, and identification (4.5).

(26) Quantity:

Some redundancy in photo collections is desirable because it permits researchers to make comparative judgments, to test the credibility of the photographs, to make meaningful selections, and to discern changeover time (4. 6).

(27) Weeding and sampling are two recommended remedies for dealing with the problem of excessive volume. Weeding is a much more useful technique than sampling, but both have only limited applications because they require item-by-item selection, which is very time-consuming and may also conflict with the principle of archival integrity (4. 6).

(28) Accessibility:

Access to photographs can be limited by formal restrictions, which are relatively rare, and informally by inconvenient arrangement, which is fairly common. When appraising large bodies of photographs, inconvenient arrangement combined with a low concentration of appealing images should be regarded as a serious deficiency (4.7).

(29) Photographer:

Attribution to a well-known photographer increases the value of any collection of photographs, but an archival appraisal should never disqualify a collection because the photographer is unknown or not highly regarded (4. 8).

7.6 Appraising Government Photographs

The appraiser of government photographs normally enjoys two advantages: a well-defined acquisition policy and a formal records management program that can alleviate many typical problems related to appraisal. Appraisers of government photography are also likely to encounter several recurring types of photographs.

(30) The most ubiquitous types of government photographs - personnel identification and ceremonial photos, and training aids and copy photos - rarely have archival value (5.4.1 and 5.4.2).

(31) Construction progress photos frequently pose an appraisal dilemma. Their value depends upon the specific subject matter, the agency's use of the photographs, and the amount of repetition (5.4.3 and 5.4.4).

(32) Publicity and program files are the most likely sources of archival photographs. Some of the more common categories of program photographs depict military activities, agriculture, and nature; for all of these the most difficult appraisal criterion to evaluate is volume, particularly the repetitive volume characteristic of such files (5.4.5).

(33) Scientific or technical photo series are normally quite voluminous, specific, and repetitive. Consequently, the appraiser of scientific photographs should consider the unusual options of long-term retention in a records centre, retention in a "satellite archives" or miniaturization (5.4.5).

(34) Documentary photographs, which have enormous appeal to most users of archival photographs, almost always should be appraised as archival (

(35) The most vexing appraisal problems facing government archives are agency personnel who are insensitive to the record character of photographs or overly possessive of their holdings, sudden reorganizations that confuse the question of ownership, poor filing habits and inadequate editing, and the growing tendency to contract out photography. An active, imaginative records management program is the most effective response to these problems (5.5).

(36) Appraisers should identify and schedule the timely accessioning of all related documentation, particularly finding aids, use data, photographica, and information about restrictions (5.6).

(37) Whenever possible, the archives should accession a black and white or colour negative and corresponding captioned print. For colour transparencies or slides accession the original and one duplicate (5.7).

7.7 Appraising Non-government Photographs

Governments are the major source of archival photographs, but not the only one. Private sources and types of historical photography are virtually limitless. The appraisal of photographs created by large private bureaucracies such as businesses, universities, and churches, is very similar to the appraisal of government photographs. Three other major sources of privately created photography warrant special attention.

(38) Newspaper photographs are particularly rich sources of historical documentation which should be collected actively by appropriate archival repositories (6.3).

(39) The major challenge in appraising news photographs is to determine the extent of overlapping and duplicate coverage among newspapers, especially those serving the same regional audience (6.3).

(40) Only a relatively small proportion of commercial photography can be preserved in archival institutions because of the enormous volume of current production by thousands of sources. Archives, therefore, should first approach commercial studios or stock photo agencies. The most valuable collections of commercial photography cover an extended period of time, a wide range of subjects, and have excellent technical qualities (6.4).

(41) The most serious and common deficiencies of commercial photographs are inadequate identification, preservation problems, and inaccessible arrangement (6.4).

(42) Some of the most important traditional functions of commercial photography have largely been supplanted by amateur photography (6.5).

(43) A relatively small and necessarily very selective sample of amateur photography should be preserved in archival institutions as a record of family life. The most important appraisal criterion is subject matter; amateur photographs are valuable primarily for glimpsing the more intimate and routine aspects of daily life, rather than the notable people and events that interest most professional photographers (6.5).

(44) Institutions that acquire amateur photography should seek out images of a wide variety of social, economic, and ethnic groups; set minimally acceptable technical standards; and insist upon adequate identification, which may require extensive interviews (6.5).

7.8 This study admittedly proclaims very few precise or unequivocal guidelines for the archival appraisal of photographs. Rather, the objective has been to convey the complexity of appraising photographs while also dispelling some of the mystery that often attends archival discussions of photographs. With rare exceptions, evaluating the historical significance of photographs requires only slight modification of the generally accepted guidelines for appraising paper records. Specialised experience and knowledge of historical photographs should supplement extensive familiarity with established precepts of archival appraisal. Ultimately, however, the appraiser of historical photographs faces the same daunting, unenviable challenge that the American Historical Association presented to all archival appraisers a generation ago: "To eliminate the unimportant calls for courage and critical judgment ... the archivist must be wise enough and bold enough to take a calculated risk". (3) The massive, escalating volume of still photography requires continuing debate and elaboration of appraisal policies - refined calculations of the risks - to enable us to fulfill the archival obligation to preserve a full, yet manageable visual record of our times.

William W Moss and Peter Mazikana


The post-Second World War period has brought about a significant expansion in the functions and responsibilities of archival institutions and the archivists who manage them. Against a background of stagnant or diminish) resources, archivists have been called upon to accommodate increasingly large volumes of records, to adapt traditional archival practices and principles to new sources of information and record media, and to cope wit rapid technological advances in communications and recordkeeping devices.

The customary archival role of the custodian or keeper of local, state, an central government records has had to be modified and transformed in many ways. This transformation has not been easy, as may be shown by the continuing controversy over the degree of involvement by archivists in the management of current and semi-current records. Archivists in different countries have responded in different ways to the challenges that have arisen. It is not surprising, therefore, that oral tradition and oral history have not received the universal welcome they deserve as legitimate archival endeavours.

There is nothing new in the recording, use and preservation of oral tradition and oral history. Indeed, individuals and institutions have collected, used, and preserved oral sources and have made those materials available to researchers for years. To a large extent, however, this has been done by university departments, specialised research institutions, or archival units set up specifically to deal with oral sources or sound recordings. For archival institutions at the local, state, and national levels, the novelty lies in the extent to which they are being asked to accept the role of custodians and administrators of this material and the extent to which they are even being asked to assume the entirely unfamiliar and often uncomfortable role of participation in the creation of these records. Whatever the pros and cons of such involvement, there is little doubt that oral tradition and oral history have had and will continue to have increasingly significant impact on archival work, and archivists must be prepared to accommodate and master this material. To do so, however, they must have as full and precise an understanding of oral history and oral tradition as they have of other more familiar archival sources.

Oral tradition and oral history share a common oral nature. While it is deceptively easy to propose distinctions between them, it is more difficult to sustain the differences in practice. There is often much similarity in the ways they are collected, processed, stored, and made available to researchers and in the equipment required to record and preserve these materials. In common practice, both those who concentrate on oral history and those who work with oral tradition belong to a common class of oral historians and share many of the same interests, concerns, and objectives, methods and procedures.

Oral traditions are those recollections of the past, orally transmitted and recounted, that arise naturally within and from the dynamics of a culture. They are shared widely throughout the culture by word of mouth even though they may be entrusted to particular people for safekeeping, transmittal, recitation, and narration. They are organic expressions of the identity, purpose, functions, customs, and generational continuity of the culture in which they occur. They happen spontaneously as phenomena of cultural expression. They would exist, and indeed they have existed in the absence of written notes or other more sophisticated recording devices. They are not direct experiences of the narrators, and they must be transmitted by word of mouth to qualify as oral tradition.

Oral history, on the other hand, is usually identified as an activity, a detached and academic process of inquiry into the memories of people who have experienced the recent past directly. This inquiry and the responses it generates are recorded to supplement written records that have been found wanting in some measure for historical analysis. It is a studied, abstract, and analytical practice of historians and other social scientists, and it relies heavily on a recording device, whether manual, mechanical, or electronic. Oral history owes much to the traditions of Western European historiography. It was developed partly to remedy deficiencies in written records, but it has been viewed by many traditional historians as an undisciplined, rebellious, and perhaps even irresponsible child of documentary history. Rebellious or not, oral history necessarily presumes an existing context of written records, from which prior research identifies major lacunae that may' be filled through the recording of testimony by participants and witnesses to the events in question. The product of oral history is subject to textual criticism and content analysis by the same standards that are applied by historians to written documents.

Although oral traditions may be collected as an academic exercise and subsumed under the general umbrella of oral history, in their very nature they have an inherent additional social value in contributing to the social cohesion, dynamic evolution, and durability of the culture they represent. Oral traditions are therefore changed in the very act of recording from dynamic and developing or evolving self-consciousness into fixed and static "snapshots" of the culture at one point in its development. They become abstracted from the process that creates and nurtures them, and in this they necessarily become outdated very rapidly.

Oral traditions are to a large extent identified with societies lacking a written tradition, but they also exist in highly literate societies, even those with impressive archives of written records. Their most important archival function, however, has been in documenting those societies without written records, throwing light on the historical, social, economic, and cultural development of such societies. In many cases it has been the only way in which the past of a society could be reconstructed and recorded in written form for archival preservation.

Oral history became necessary, at least in part, because many historians came to believe that written records were excessively limited to the documentation of a ruling government or elite class, or to a dominant national function such as religion or law. Thus, much social history went unrecorded or was recorded incidental to other purposes which diminished the usefulness of the record for social history. Whole classes of people were poorly represented in great national annals, and the perspective reflected in those annals tended to be highly legalistic, formal, and bureaucratic. Modern historians are seeking to remedy this deficiency in a variety of ways, among them the collection of oral history and oral tradition. Modern institutions, whether commercial, governmental, religious, or social, have come to discover a need for documenting and sharing information beyond the strict confines of records of official transactions. Furthermore, oral history, even at its most studied and academic levels, has begun to discover the importance and use of mythology to rationalism even the most highly sophisticated and deterministic activities of a modern technological society. As in the case of oral traditions, the relationship of a traditional perspective to the social dynamic may be as significant as the evidential value of the contents of oral history for documentation of historical phenomena.

Archives require durable records removed from the direct effect of continuing social development. Archivists must understand that in acquiring oral sources they are participating in a process of transformation from socially dynamic and evolving sources to static and durable records of segments of that process. For the archivist, the distinctions between oral tradition and oral history are important primarily in understanding the provenance of each, and perhaps in developing appraisal criteria for deciding the durability of the value of each for evidential, administrative, or general information needs. The forms in which the archivist encounters them are often remarkably similar, and the distinctions between them are often unimportant in archival management of the physical property of the records once created and deposited in the archives. Handwritten or typed notes and transcripts, magnetic audiotapes, sound motion picture films, and videotapes all may contain oral source records, but the most common for both oral tradition and oral history is magnetic audiotape, often but not necessarily accompanied by a written transcript or schedule of contents of the tape. Each form may record one, two, or several participants, although multiple participants beyond the inquirer-respondent dialogue form in oral history are less common. The inquirer or collector role in recordings of oral tradition is commonly much more reserved, obscure, and self-effacing than in the oral history interview, where the interviewer must act as a catalyst to prompt and challenge the memory of the narrator. It is crucially important, however, for both oral history and for oral tradition, that the archivist understand that what is given to the archives is a record of an interview or the record of a recounting of an oral tradition; it is not a record of or from the past about which the subject speaks, although it may be an attempt to define or recreate that past. It is a record of an event (an interview, a story-telling, the recitation of an epic poem, etc.) that took place in the recent past, not a surviving relic of that more distant past of which the narrator speaks, even if the information supplied is the only surviving evidence of that past known to exist.


In concern for the integrity of the practice of oral history, and mindful of its responsibilities in that regard, the Oral History Association of the United States of America, after much thought and deliberation, developed two sets of guidelines that may prove helpful to others working in oral history. These guidelines are offered in this study as examples of criteria that can be developed to encourage collectors and administrators to improve the quality and reliability of the oral sources and their administration, and thereby make them more valuable to the writing of history. They are not offered as absolutes designed to fit every situation, and each archivist must make appropriate adjustments to his own situation.

The first set of guidelines very broadly establishes areas of concern and values for those broad areas. The second set of guidelines is more detailed and precise and was designed for comprehensive and thorough analysis, appraisal, and evaluation of oral history programmes, projects, and products.

11.1 Goals and Guidelines of the Oral History Association

The Oral History Association recognises oral history as a method of gathering and preserving historical information in spoken form and encourages those who produce and use oral history to recognise certain principles, rights, and obligations for the creation of source material that is authentic, useful, and reliable.

Guidelines for the Interviewee

The interviewee should be informed of the purposes and procedures of oral history in general and of the particular project to which contribution is being made. In recognition of the importance of oral history to an understanding of the past and in recognition of the costs and effort involved, the interviewee should strive to impart candid information of lasting value. The interviewee should be aware of the mutual rights involved in oral history, such as editing and seal privileges, literary rights, prior use, fiduciary relationships, royalties, and determination of the disposition of all forms of the record and extent of dissemination and use. Preferences of the person interviewed and any prior agreements should govern the conduct of the oral history process, and these preferences and agreements should be carefully documented for the record.

Guidelines for the interviewer

Interviewers should guard against possible social injury to or exploitation of interviewees and should conduct interviews with respect for human dignity. Each interviewee should be selected on the basis of demonstrable potential for imparting information of lasting value. The interviewer should strive to prompt informative dialogue through challenging and perceptive inquiry, should be grounded in the background and experiences of the person being interviewed, and, if possible, should review the sources related to the interviewee before conducting the interview. Interviewers should extend the inquiry beyond their immediate needs to make each interview as complete as possible for the benefit of others, and should, whenever possible, place the material in a depository where it will be available for general research. The interviewer should inform the interviewee of the planned conduct of the oral history process and develop mutual expectations of rights connected thereto, including editing, mutual seal privileges, literary rights, prior use, fiduciary relationships, royalties, rights to determine the disposition of all forms of the record, and the extent of dissemination and use. Interviews should be conducted in a spirit of objectivity, candor, and integrity, and in keeping with common understandings, purposes, and stipulations mutually arrived at by all parties. The interviewer shall not violate and will protect the seal on any information considered confidential by the interviewee, whether imparted on tape as part of the interview or conveyed separately from the interview.

Guidelines for Sponsoring Institutions

Subject to conditions prescribed by interviewees, it is an obligation of sponsoring institutions (or individual collectors) to prepare and preserve easily useable records; to keep careful records of all creation and processing of each interview; to identify, index, and catalogue all interviews; and, when open to research, to make their existence known. Interviewers should be selected on the basis of professional competence and interviewing skill. Interviewers should be carefully matched to interviewees. Institutions should keep both interviewees and interviewers aware of the importance of the above guidelines for the successful production and use of oral history sources.

11.2 Oral History Evaluation Guidelines

The Oral History Association, in furtherance of its goals and guidelines and in support of its evaluation service, has developed guidelines for the use of those called upon to evaluate existing or proposed programmes and projects. The outline may also be used by individuals to test their own procedures and by funding agencies to appraise proposals.

Recognising that the ultimate measure of oral history lies in its reliability as a source for historical understanding, the Association submits that conscientious consideration of every step in its creation is a professional obligation, and that careful attention to the factors raised in the following outline substantially increases the probability of enduring value.

Therefore, the Association has developed the following guidelines to be used in the evaluation of programmes and projects producing oral history sources and to provide standards for new and established programmes. The text is intended to suggest lines of inquiry by evaluators, who should, however, recognise the need for flexibility in applying them to specific projects. The guidelines will be subject to continuing review by the Oral History Association.

Programme/Project Guidelines Purposes and Objectives

Are the purposes clearly set forth? How realistic are they? What factors demonstrate a significant need for this project? What is the research design? How clear and realistic is it? Are the terms, conditions and objectives of funding clearly made known to allow the user of the interviews to judge the potential effect of such funding on the scholarly integrity of the project? Is the allocation of funds adequate to allow the project goals to be accomplished? How do institutional relationships affect the purposes and objectives?

Selection of Interviewers and Interviewees

In what way are the interviewers and interviewees appropriate (or inappropriate) to the purposes and objectives? What are the significant omissions, and why were the omitted?

Records and Provenance

What are the policies and provisions for maintaining a record of provenance of interviews?

Are they adequate?

What can be done to improve them?

How are records, policies and procedures made known to interviewers, interviewees, staff, and users?

How does the system of records enhance the usefulness of the interviews and safeguard the rights of those involved?

Availability of Materials

How accurate and specific is the publicising of the interviews?

How is information about interviews directed to likely users?

How have the interviews been used?

Finding Aids

What is the overall design for finding aids?

Are the finding aids adequate and appropriate?

How available are the finding aids to users?

Management, Qualifications, and Training

How effective is the management of the programme/project?

What provisions are there for supervision and staff review?

What are the qualifications for staff positions?

What are the provisions for systematic and effective training?

What improvements could be made in the management of the programme/project?

Ethical/Legal Guidelines

What policies and procedures assure that each interviewee is made fully aware of:

- his/her rights and interests?

- the purposes of the programme/project?

- the various stages of the interviewing and transcribing process and his/her responsibilities in that process?

- the eventual deposit of the interview(s) in a suitable repository?

- the possible uses to which the material may be put?

What policies and procedures assure that each interviewer is fully aware of:

- his/her rights and interests?

- his/her ethical and legal responsibilities to the interviewee?

- his/her ethical and legal responsibilities to the programme/project?

How does the programme/project secure a release from the interviewer? What policies and procedures assure that for each interviewee an adequate deed of gift or formal contract transfer rights, title, and interest in both tape(s) and transcript(s) to an administering authority?

In lieu of a deed or gift or contract, what other evidence of intent does the programme/project rely on? Is it legally adequate? How does the programme/project relfect responsible adherence to ethical and legal standards? Specifically:

- How has the staff been impressed with the need for confidentiality of the interview content until the time of release?

- How has the staff been impressed with the need to conduct interviews in a spirit of mutual respect and with consideration for the interests of the interviewees?

- How does the programme/project demonstrate its ability to carry out the provisions of legal agreements and to protect the tape(s) and transcript(s) from unethical use?

- What steps are taken to assure that the staff recognises its responsibilities to gather accurate material, to process it as quickly as possible, and to make it available for use to the widest possible audience?

Tape/Transcript Guidelines

Information About the Participants

Are the names of both interviewer and interviewee clearly indicated on the tape/abstract/transcript and in catalogue materials? Is there adequate biographical information about both interviewer and interviewee? Where can these be found?

Interview Information

Are the tapes, transcripts, time indices, abstracts, and other material presented for use identified as to the programme/project of which they are a part?

Are the date and place of interview indicated on tape, transcript, time index, abstract, and in appropriate catalogue material? Are there interviewer's statements about the preparation for or circumstances of the interview(s)? Where? Are they generally available to researchers? How are the rights of the interviewees protected against the improper use of such commentaries? Are there records of contracts between th programme and the interviewee? How detailed are they? Are they available to researchers? If so, with what safeguards for individual rights and privacy?

Interview Tape Information

Is the complete master tape preserved? Are there one or more duplicate copies?

If the original or any duplicate has been edited, rearranged, cut, or spliced in any way, is there a record of that action, including by whom and for what purposes the action was taken?

Do the tape label and appropriate catalogue materials show the recording speed, level, and length of the interview?

Has the programme/project used recording equipment and tapes which are appropriate to the purposes of the work and use of the material?

Are the recordings of good quality? How could they be improved?

In the absence of transcripts, are there suitable finding aids to give users access to information on tapes? What form do they take?

Is there a record of who prepares these finding aids?

Are researchers permitted to listen to tapes? Are there any restrictions on the use of tapes?

Interview Transcript Information

Is the transcript an accurate record of the tape?

Is a careful record kept of each step of processing the transcript, including who transcribed, audited, edited, retyped, and proofread the transcript in final copy?

Are the nature and extent of changes in the transcript from the original tape made known to the user?

What finding aids have been prepared for the transcript? Are they suitable and adequate? How could they be improved?

Are there any restrictions on access to or use of the transcripts?

Are they clearly noted?

Are there any photo materials or other supporting documents for the interview? Do they enhance and supplement the text?

Interview Content Guidelines

Does the content of each interview and the cumulative content of the whole collection contribute to accomplishing the objectives of the programme/project?

In what particulars do the interview and/or collection appear to succeed or fall short?

In what way does the programme/project contribute to historical understanding?

In what particulars does each interview or the whole collection succeed or fall short of such contribution?

To what extent does the material add fresh information, fill gaps in the existing record, and/or provide fresh insights and perspectives?

To what extent is the information reliable and valid? Is it eye-witness or hearsay testimony? How well and in what manner does it meet internal and external tests of corroboration, consistency, and explication of contradictions?

What is the relationship of the interview information to existing documentation and historiography?

How does the texture of the interview impart detail, richness, and flavour to the historical record?

What is the basic nature of the information contributed? Is it facts, perceptions, interpretations, judgments, or attitudes, and how does each contribute to understanding?

Are the scope and volume, and where appropriate the representativeness of the population interviewed. appropriate and sufficient to the purpose? Is there enough testimony to validate the evidence without passing the point of diminishing returns? How appropriate is the quantity to the purpose of the study? Is there a good representative sample of the population represented in the interviews?

How do the form and structure of the interviews contribute to make the content information understandable.

Interview Conduct Guidelines Use of Other Sources

Is the oral history technique the best means of acquiring the information? If not, what other sources exist? Has the interviewer used them, and has he/she sought to preserve them if necessary? Has the interviewer made an effort to consult other relevant oral histories? Is the interview technique of value in supplementing existing sources?

Historical Contribution

Does the interviewer pursue the inquiry with historical integrity? Do other purposes being served by the interview enrich or diminish quality? What does the interview contribute to the larger context of historical knowledge and understanding?

Interviewer Preparation

Is the interviewer well-informed about the subjects under discussion?

Are the primary and secondary sources used in preparation for the interview adequate?

Interviewee Selection and Orientation

Does the interviewee seem appropriate to the subjects discussed? Does the interviewee understand and respond to the interview purposes? Has the interviewee prepared for the interview and assisted in the process?

Interviewer-Interviewee Relations

Do interviewer and interviewee motivate each other toward interview objectives?

Is there a balance of empathy and analytical judgment in the interview?

Adaptive Skills

In what ways does the interview show that the interviewer has used skills appropriate to:

- the interviewee's condition (health, memory, mental alertness, ability to communicate, time schedule, etc.)?

- the interview conditions (disruptions and interruptions, equipment problems, extraneous participants, etc.)?


What evidence is there that the interviewer has:

- thoroughly explored pertinent lines of thought

- followed up significant clues?

- made an effort to identify sources of information?

- employed critical challenge where needed?


Do the biases of the interviewer interfere with or influence the responses of the interviewee? What information is available that may inform users of any prior or separate relationship of the interviewer to the interviewee?

Charles M Dollar


0.1 The key concept in this study is that an understanding of the implications of electronic technology for archivists and records managers in international organisations involves both an examination of the technology itself and the environment in which that technology will function. The implications of electronic technology, or what is defined as the supply side, includes the technology of computers, software, communications, information services, databases, printers, and memory devices, among others. Certainly this aspect requires major attention, since technological capabilities help structure what can be accomplished. The demand side of information technology is the organizational environment - individual productivity enhancement, centralization versus decentralization of management, organizational structure of institutions operating in a network, and the like.

0.2 This demand side of information technology has serious long range implications for archivists and records managers in international organisations in that it may increase the distance that separates them from the information for which they are responsible. This distancing may include information technology decision making which can have a profound, though indirect, impact upon archival and record management programs. For example, a decision to install a new telecommunications capability, which includes an electronic mail and message system, introduces a new set of archival and records management concerns which may not be apparent to the decision-makers. Not having a voice in information technology decision making inevitably means that archivists and records managers are likely to have very little influence in the shaping of information technology policy.

0.3 This rather bleak picture in which archivists and records managers in international organisations (as well as in other organisations may find themselves in an environment where they are the passive recipients of information derived from processes over which they have little influence or control need not be the scenario of the future. Indeed, this study along with its recommendations is premised on the expectation that archivists and records managers in international organisations can (and should) become involved in the shaping of information technology policy and decision-making.

0.4 The first chapter of this study focuses upon a detailed examination of information technology as it relates to trends in micro-electronics, software, storage, data transmission, new computer architecture, text conversion, and computer-based micrographics systems. Chapter two elaborates on some of these trends, with a review of a number of pilot research projects or operational programs now under way. These trends and applications provide the context in which general records management and archives policies, principles, and practices are reviewed in chapter three.

This chapter concludes with the identification of key opportunity areas which information technology presents to archivists and records managers.

0.5 Contemporary archival and records management policy and practice in international organisations in the theme of chapter four. A detailed questionnaire on archival and records management policy and practice was sent to 34 archivists and/or records managers in international organisations Responses to the questionnaire, along with information collected from on-site visits to thirteen international organisations form the analytical basis for identifying problems and opportunities for electronic records management and archives in international organisations

0.6 Chapter five integrates the findings from the previous chapter with the trends, applications, and opportunities identified in the first three chapters. This integration provides a series of recommendations for action at three different levels: Section of Archivists of International Organisations, institutional and individual.

0.7 Annexes include a glossary of terms, recommended readings, a copy of the questionnaire discussed in chapter four, and suggested evaluation criteria for computer hardware and software.


The focus of this chapter is a series of recommendations which explicitly integrate the findings discussed in chapter four with the trends, applications, opportunities identified in chapters one through three. Although this is a somewhat narrow focus, nonetheless, many of the recommendations are relevant and generalisable to any institutional setting in which there is an awareness and concern about the ways that electronic information handling technologies affect traditional information handling activities, especially records management and archives.

Section of Archivists of International Organisations

5.1 The Section of Archivists of International Organisations (SIO) should take note of and officially endorse the recently completed study of "The Changing Use of Computers in Organisations of theUnited Nations System in Geneva : Management Issues". This study acknowledges the importance of records management and archives in the rapidly expanding applications of electronic information handling technologies, especially in UN organisations in Geneva.

(The latter should not detract from its relevance to non-UN organisations Official recognition of the usefulness of this study by archivists and records managers in international organisations would lend the study greater credibility and reinforce efforts now under way to establish clear communication among the various participants in the use of electronic information handling technologies.

5.1.2 Related to this is the urgent need for SIO to call upon archivists and records managers in international organisations to take a pro-active stance by bringing to the attention of top management the importance of archives and records management in the rapidly expanding area of electronic record keeping activities. Such a call should acknowledge that in most institutional settings, the success of archivists and records managers in becoming involved in helping influence automation strategic planning and implementation relates directly to the extent to which they seize opportunities to redefine archives and record management as a significant part of electronic information handling activities.

5.1.3 Another area in which SIO could set an important precedent is to formally establish liaison with the Automation Committee of the International Council on Archives in order to ensure full exchange of viewpoints and concerns. Such a co-operative endeavour could help the Automation Committee better identify special needs that it could address and at the same time provide the SIO with access to archivists who have considerable knowledge of automation developments.

5.1.4 Of equal importance is the need for the SIO to establish a formal liaison with the Advisory Committee for the Co-ordination of Information Systems, which is located in Geneva, Switzerland. Although this committee, which is better known as ACCIS, primarily serves specialised UN organisations both its agenda and scope of activities address issues and concerns that are relevant to archivists and records managers. Participation in the ACCIS meetings and activities would demonstrate a pro-active stance of the SIO and facilitate a full exchange of views.

5.1.5 As this study has noted, it is very important for archivists and records managers in international organisations to become fully informed about existing international and national standards governing the use of computer data bases and telecommunications and to call for their implementation in archival and records management applications. Specifically, the SIO should endorse the use of ISO 8211 and X.400 in archival and records management applications and urge members to work for their implementation in their respective organisations Furthermore, the SIO should work closely with the Secretary for Standardisation of the International Council on Archives to ensure that issues of concern to archivists and records managers are brought to the attention of working groups and organisations in the standards development area.

5.1.6 A fundamental electronic archives and records management issue this study identifies is the need for specific assignment of disposition responsibility for information in electronic form, adoption of the life cycle concept of information, and early identification (or appraisal) of information in electronic form that has permanent value. The clear absence of disposition guidelines for electronic information (including machine-readable records) in most international organisations which responded to the questionnaire means that no archival or records management control is in place. Until this issue is addressed and resolved, there is little likelihood that any significant progress can be made in dealing with more complex electronic information handling technologies (e.g. electronic mail or microcomputers). Closely related to this is the urgent need to adopt the life cycle concept as the only feasible approach that helps ensure that documentation of permanent value in electronic form will in fact be retained and transferred to archives. For these reasons, it is imperative that the SIO endorse the centralised disposition of all information in electronic form and use of the life cycle concept (including early appraisal or identification of archival value) in archives and records management programs.

5.1.7 This study also notes that strategic systems planning should be an important activity for those archivists and records managers who are successful in dealing with electronic information handling technology issues. Unfortunately, since few archivists or records managers possess strategic systems planning skills or experience, considerable guidance in this area is required. One way to do this is by example. The leadership of SIO should undertake a strategic systems planning approach in terms of what the organisation, needs to do over the next five years in order to move the organisation, into the mainstream of electronic information handling applications. This assumes that clear goals will be defined and an incremental action plan with specific objectives and activities will be developed. The development of a model Five Year Plan for Electronic Information Activities would serve at least three purposes. First the model would give SIO members who participate in the planning process some sense of what strategic systems planning involves.

Second, the model would assist the SIO in identifying priorities and monitoring accomplishments. Third, the model would be a clear signal to other electronic information handling disciplines that archivists and records managers understand contemporary analytical processes and know how to use them to influence strategic systems planning and the resultant implementation of electronic information handling technologies.

5.1.8. An integral part of such a strategic systems plan is meeting the training needs SIO members and other archivists and records managers. The questionnaire analysis in chapter four clearly reveals that many archivists and records managers are very interested in obtaining training in the use of new electronic information technologies, especially with regard to the use of microcomputers. A carefully designed training program done, perhaps, in conjunction with the Automation Committee, that is part of a five year plan would go a long way toward building a technically informed infrastructure that is so essential to the long term effective use of electronic information technologies. Among the training priorities that merit attention are the archival and records management use of data base management systems, archival and records management requirements for electronic mail systems, and the establishment of a microcomputer based system to support archives and records management program goals and activities, including, but not limited to, finding aids and statistical reports.

Archivists and Records Managers

5.2 All of the recommendations relating to the SIO are equally relevant to individuals archivists and records managers without regard to whether or not the institutional setting is an international organisation, Consequently, this section restates many of the earlier recommendations for implementation in a variety of institutional settings where electronic information handling technologies are now in place or still in the planning stage.

5.2.1 One of the single most important activities that archivists and records managers who are concerned about the impact of electronic information handling technologies on archives and records management programs and activities can initiate is a change in outlook. By tradition and the nature of their work, most archivists and records managers tend to be reactive to problems and that result from changes in procedure and process rather than anticipating these changes and trying to shape them so that they also serve archival and records management ends. Therefore, it is one of the utmost importance that archivists and records managers begin immediately to get involved in helping influence automation strategic planning and implementation activities. One very effective way to do this is by preparing and circulating a background paper to senior management officials which redefines archives and records management as a significant part of an institution's electronic information handling activities. If such activities are not in place, then the background paper can serve as input into a planning document for the introduction of electronic information handling technologies.

5.2.2 Related to the preparation of a background paper is the need to be informed about activities of the Automation Committee of the ICA and ACCIS. The latter can be easily accomplished by getting on the ACCIS Newsletter mailing list by sending your name and address to the Editor, ACCIS Newsletter, ACCIS Secretariat, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland. The ACCIS Newsletter, which is published bi-monthly and is available at no cost, contains useful summary records on information technology and the work of various technical panels, among others. The Automation Committee publishes the ADPA Bulletin, which is an annual publication that reviews archival automation applications, and holds an annual meeting. Information about the Bulletin and annual meetings can be obtained from Mr Wolf Buchmann, Bundesarchiv, Potsdamerstrasse, 1, D 5400 Koblenz 1, FRG.

5.2.3 Individual archivists and records managers can greatly assist in encouraging the widespread use of ISO 8211 abd X.400 by determining if institutional or agency computer operations permit or require the use of either standard. Since both standards are relatively new (actually X.400 has not been formally adopted yet), it is likely that only a few managers of computer operations will know about them. Sharing this information and offering to assist in their implementation could bring greater co-operation among the various participants in electronic information handling technology applications.

5.2.4 At the institutional or agency working level there is no reason why archivists and records managers on their own initiative could not develop a strategic systems plan for automating archives and records management activities. Such a plan would address functional information requirements for archives and records management functions, describe goals, objectives, and activities, and in general lay out an action plan covering several years. A plan on this order quite likely would incorporate microcomputers as well as linkage with whatever computer capability exists for the institution or agency. Where feasible, this plan should tie in directly to the background paper discussed earlier in 5.2.1.

5.2.5 Since few archivists or records managers have the background or experience in electronic information handling technologies, there is an obvious need for training. Some archivists and records managers can benefit from self-training obtained through reading appropriate literature. Others can best benefit from formal training such as short seminars and symposia or academic course work. Usually, a combination of self-training and formal training works for most people and probably would be adequate for archivists and records managers. Unfortunately, there is no single journal article, book, or short course that addresses the full range of training needs for archivists and records managers. Consequently, it would be advisable to consult with computer operations staff regarding recommended articles, books, and short courses. In some instances, computer operations staff might teach a short course on a particular topic. However, in most instances it is likely that the best training in this area will be offered by people who have a sound understanding of both archives and records management activities and electronic information handling technologies. Literature, which identifies opportunities for training in electronic information handling technologies, especially in North America, generally is widely available.


5.3 The final summary recommendation calls attention to the potential for embarrassing and very expensive failure in the implementation of electronic information handling technologies where a careful analysis of systems requirements has not been conducted. Overlaying an automated systems solution onto flawed and inadequate manual processes is counter-productive. This is even more true where the manual processes are fragmented and not clearly understood or followed. In situations like this or where little or no automation now exists, a far more useful approach to take is to identify a manageable activity and do a prototype systems study with the clear expectation that a microcomputer based solution is intended. This approach involves a relatively low risk (financial cost and failure) and has the added advantage of providing staff members with hands on automation experience. This experience then can become the foundation on which more elaborate electronic information handling applications can be developed.

Michael Cook


This publication is intended as a preliminary guide to those who are considering whether or how they can introduce any of the techniques of automation into the administration of archives and records services. It gives information on the ways in which computer applications have been developed to assist with these processes, and suggests where sources of additional information may be found. It does not itself set out to give information of sufficient technicality or detail to enable a system to be set up, but instead it aims to provide a tool by which archivists and records managers, working in manual or non-automated services, may consider the value and functioning of automated systems, and make use of the experience of their colleagues in more technically advanced services.

Archives and records services form an essential part of the information management services of a country. They deal with information-bearing materials generated within the administrative systems of important organisations (whether governments or private institutions or organisations while on the whole, library and documentation services deal with information-bearing materials bought in from outside. To play their part, it is essential that the archives and records services should operate efficiently within the limitations of available resources. This is all the more true as these services come under greater pressure because the increasing volume of records produced coincides with the expansion of demand for access to the information in them. Modern records and archives services have to deal with vast amounts of material, and have to find ways of exploiting their information content rapidly and accurately. They have to do this within the constraints of a budget which, never generous, has probably been subjected in recent years to new restrictions.

In this context, archives and records services cannot ignore the potential of automation. The additional power which computing gives to the management of any information service is likely to be of great - or even vital significance to the success of that service. Computers can speed up the processes of collection, handling and retrieval of information, and can also extend the range of information supply and use. Introducing computers may solve some of the problems of carrying out processes in the service (especially those which depend on repetitious clerical work), and may help the service to be of more obvious and immediate value to its users.

Additionally, archives and records services cannot ignore the inevitability with which various forms of automation are coming to dominate administrative methods. The advance of new technology may be obscured and delayed in some developing countries, but its eventual coming is clearly charted. Elsewhere in the world, the new ways are being adopted rapidly. Information workers have to face a double challenge; they must themselves learn to use automated systems, because these are becoming standard, displacing more traditional systems; and they must learn to deal with the documents which have been produced by other people using the new technology, because these are the documents of the present age. Archivists must not only look at more automated ways of running their service and producing their finding aids, but they must now think of surveying and managing the records which have been created in machine-readable forms.

The advantages of automation have a cost, both in financial terms and in terms of change in the methods of work and attitudes of the staff. In fact, if the true costs of running a manual operation are calculated (and in the past these costs rarely were), and the true costs of introducing electronic methods are compared with them, the changeover is usually not found to be necessarily very expensive. However, it is necessary to invest in new equipment, and this equipment needs infrastructural services and maintenance.

The systems which are to be used must be planned carefully, because if they are not well suited to the jobs which are to be done, they will not succeed. When computerised systems are in use, staff members will have to learn to do their jobs in ways hitherto unfamiliar. It may well be that in the long run automation will reduce the amount of routine work that has to be got through, by all grades of staff. However it is quite clear that it does not of itself reduce the need for numbers of staff, especially professional staff: what it does is increase the productivity of the staff, and so make it more likely that the service will be viable.

This manual supplements and to a degree replaces the earlier introduction to archival ADP, by Arad and Olsen, which was published by the Automation Committee of the International Council on Archives in 1981. A new manual was needed because of the rapid development of automated functions and services, and especially because of the following developments.

1. The wide distribution of cheap computers, particularly personal microcomputers and integrated office systems.

2. The enormous expansion of storage capacity available to electronic machines. This has changed their basic function from being machines which process data held on paper to being machines on which information is originated, transmitted and then stored. A modern electronic system has in principle no need to use paper at all as a method of retaining information or putting information before its users.

3. The ready availability of software packages. Computers cannot be used unless they are suitably programmed. In the past, this programming had to be done by hiring programmers to devise a system for each service. Today it is easier to acquire a ready-made set of programmes, which carry out the standard functions. There are many examples of archives and records services which have used these packages, with or without adaptation. Information processing packages are frequently available without much financial investment.

4. The development of information retrieval methodology: this has meant that users in many countries are now accustomed to getting their information by accessing computer systems online. In other cases automatically constructed indexes or keyword retrieval has changed the way in which users are guided towards relevant material.

This has changed user expectations, as well as giving new technical tools to information managers. In the most advanced countries, networks carrying bibliographical and documentary information

(including archival information) are already in daily use, and descriptive formats are being developed to allow more information to be fed into these systems.

5. Other factors which have changed the climate of opinion and the way in which the information professions think and work have included the recent development of new data storage media, such as optical data disks, and sophisticated systems for displaying graphical information, and for transmitting documents in facsimile. Finally, we may note the growing movements for the harmonisation of training between the information professions.

In writing this manual, an effort has been made to use the simplest possible language. Where technical terms have been used, they have been drawn from the Automation Committee's Elementary terms in archival automation (1984).

References in brackets in the text are to publications listed in the bibliography.


Electronic systems can be used to carry out all or most of the work which is done on data, that is upon items of information. Much of the work which is done within an archives or records service can be described as the processing of data. The data involved can belong to one of two kinds:

(a) data which is needed to deal with the archival or record material itself, considered as a mass of physical objects;

(b) information derived from the archival documents themselves.

An example of data about the physical material would be information needed to control the processes within the service. An accessions register contains information about consignments of archives received, and a work control system records when work is done on the materials (fumigation, boxing, repair, production for users, etc). This area is an archivist's work has been termed 'administrative control'.

An example of information derived from archival material would be a finding aid consisting of descriptions of groups or series of archives, or of individual documents. Other examples would be indexes or guides to the material. In some cases the is a need for calendars, or full-text transcription, of the wording of important documents. This area is referred to as 'intellectual control'.

Both kinds of data have to be generated or collected, and then processed, by the staff of the service. In this respect, archives and records services are not different from other kinds of organisation, therefore they can consider using some of the techniques for processing data which have been developed elsewhere. In fact, this observation is true as regards manual methods as much as electronic methods; but it is the appearance of computer systems which has stimulated archivists to look closely at the methods which have become popular in other types of institution.

Studying other people's methods means experiment. Fortunately this is no longer so far out of reach of the less well funded organisations and individuals as formerly. The many cheap and self-sufficient personal computers, with their software packages, which are now available, have spread a knowledge not only of computer operation but also of what can be done to handle data. Where small computers are available cheaply, the public experience can also be valuable to those considering a new system at work.

Some problems and their solution

Problems centring on hardware:

Computer systems need not only computing power but also an array of devices for inputting data and getting reports on processed data. These are termed peripherals, or input/output devices. Computing power can be provided either by a large central computer (a mainframe), by a single small computer (mini or micro), or by a linked network of small computers (microcomputers; now increasingly becoming known as personal computers). Peripherals would include a device for processing input data, and a device for reading the data held in the computer's memory. Both these jobs can be done by a terminal set up in a convenient place. This terminal may itself be a microcomputer. Finally, access to a printer is required.

It is not possible to advocate a single "best solution", because so much depends on the relationship between the archives or records service and its employing authority. If the service has an active RM programme, it will wish to be linked as closely as possible to the central administration. The records manager should be one of the participants in the central data base management system, or should be involved in the office communication system. The nature of this participation will no doubt determine the kind of equipment chosen. On the other hand, if the archives service functions mainly as a quasi-independent research institute, linked more closely with other such institutes than with its employing agency, it may make more sense to develop an independent computing facility.

A general principle might be that where the service is very closely integrated with a larger organisation, it may be more convenient to use the computing and data processing facilities offered by the central computing unit. Where there is no such close integration, modern microcomputers, with their large storage capacity, can serve as good and cheap data processing units. Probably the direction in which new technological developments are going suggests that independent computing (ultimately developing networks of compatible independent computers) is likely to carry important advantages. The overriding consideration in making a choice between the two main alternatives must be the service's own requirements and objectives. Forcing these into the conditions of a not entirely suitable computing service will inevitably lead to distortions.

Supporting and maintenance services are important. If small defects appear, or problems of a technical kind, archivists should be able to get expert advice, or technical remedies without delay. These are usually through the central computing service, so that a good relationship with this department is highly desirable. A maintenance contract with an efficient firm can be as valuable.

The question of obsolescence should be considered. No computer has as yet been used to the point of breakdown through old age. Consequently no-one knows how many years a given machine will last. Obsolescence has been a more important factor than wear. It is certain that anyone who operates a computer, small or large, will begin to think about replacing it after about 4-5 years, if not before. It will then be necessary to transfer the data and software to a new machine with the minimum of trouble. There is generally no overwhelming technical reason why this transfer should not be made, if the necessary questions are asked when the new equipment is being negotiated. but the existence of this problem does suggest that equipment made by a large manufacturer has an advantage.

Transferring data files from one machine to another is another situation where standard formats are useful. ISO 8211 lays down norms for such a format, and therefore could be valuable in ensuring the continued life of a database.

Compatibility is always a problem. As time goes on, other services departments of the employing agency, other information services, or parallel archives services - acquire computers, or new computers. The new machines may not be apt for the development of networks or linkages. Since it is most likely that future communications systems will depend on these linkages, it is important that the question of compatibility be borne in mind when choosing hardware, and that the archives service is consulted when other related units get new material. For the same reason it is desirable for professional associations to examine the possibilities for future planning of automated systems in their areas, and making recommendations.

Problems centring on software:

Softwareproblems are likely to be more difficult than hardware ones, since with the latter simple questions of finance and availability are often dominant. Software can certainly be expensive, but it is of its nature much more portable, and questions of suitability to the needs of the service are vitally important. The software capability of the system must suit the objectives and structure of the archives service it is brought into, or there will be a failure.

Some software choices are determined by the make and kind of hardware selected. Mainframe manufacturers usually offer a range of packages when they make a sale. Archivists who have access to central computing services could therefore begin by making enquiries as to whether suitable packages are already held by that service. Administrative or financial computers may turn out to have information retrieval or bibliographic software installed which is not needed by the principal users. This situation has often been encountered by, for example, local archive services in Britain (Patch, 1979). In the same way, it is often possible to get software packages included in the sale of microcomputers. Examples already quoted mention microcomputer users who have adopted packages such as dBase3, Delta or Cardbox Plus. These packages are very widely available off the shelf and can be operated immediately (on appropriate machines) without any preparatory programming.

More usually, archivists seeking to automate some of their processes will look about for packages which might be suitable. Many of those available have already been mentioned in section 4 above. They seem to fall into two groups: bibliographical or information retrieval packages and database management systems. Each has advantages and disadvantages. The evaluation of software systems was discussed above in Section III.

Bibliographical systems have the advantage that they are often cheaply and easily available, and, since they are widely used by library and documentation services, it is likely that they could be used for co-operative projects. On the other hand, there is the central problem that they are designed for item-by-item listing. It is important to be certain that the field structure used by the package is adaptable to the needs of archival description and would not impose arbitrary restrictions. The other important question is the range of formats provided for output information.

The bibliographical package FAMULUS is used by several archives and museum services (Bartle & Cook, 1983). Developed for academic use, it is often available free to educational or research bodies and it has been recently (1985) redesigned and updated. It allows a range of data structures, which would be suitable for many archival functions. Each record can be divided into up to 25 variable-length fields, and each field can contain up to almost 5000 characters without adaptation. This would mean that free text narrative administrative histories would probably not present a problem. In the output area, FAMULUS is not so flexible. Output in printout form is provided only three alternative formats: as a numbered list of items, as an index grouped under the data in selected fields, and as a formal list set against field names. The package is essentially aimed at producing this kind of output, but it does also provide for online searches, of selected field. FAMULUS was used to generate the specimen index displays in Fig.12.

Database management systems (DBMS) are even more widely available, since they are being promoted for the administration of small firms. DBMS are packages which allow different kinds of data to be stored in differently structured files, so that it can be retrieved on demand and displayed in various combinations. The most interesting variety of these packages, Relational Database Management Systems, allow data in one file to be displayed with data in others and used to show significant factors when these relationships are brought into play.

Like bibliographical packages they are not necessarily adaptable to archival use. When testing a package for its suitability, it would be necessary to be certain that it will allow lengthy textual entries (some are limited to numerical data, or very short textual entries), and that it will permit searches of these entries. The ability of these systems to calculate from figure held in numerical files may be an unnecessary feature for archivists. The DBMS know as SQL/DS (Structured Query Language/Data System) available on IBM computers is used for records management at Liverpool University. It allows the user to compile and structure as many different files as necessary, each file can contain a very large number of records, and these may have as many fields as are needed. Data held in different files can be combined and there is a very powerful search capability which operates by selecting data items, combining them, and outputting them in a format which can be determined on screen. The corresponding disadvantage is that, since it is not designed for holding lengthy text, it is necessary to give specific instructions each time such text is retrieved. Specimens of file structure in this system are given in Figs. 5-7

Archivists must think carefully about the methods to be used for inputting data to a system. The STAIRS information retrieval package, again widely used and available on many makes of computer (Cook, 1986, p.109) has the disadvantage that data entry is relatively difficult; it needs some extra programming, or the addition of other software to make it user-friendly in this respect. In fact it is generally necessary to add local facilities for data entry and user convenience when installing software packages at a local site. Consequently it is important to consider what local resources for this are available, and to what extent local systems can be maintained.

Obsolescence is also a problem with software. Packages are constantly being updated: it is now normal for a version number to be given with a package when it is bought. New versions will incorporate improvements or extensions to new hardware, but will not necessarily be directly compatible with the older versions. Local computing services introduce their own adaptations and improvements to software, which may make their private versions of the package impossible to use elsewhere. Although in principle software incompatibility can be overcome by further software work, this is often too expensive or not possible locally. Making a choice of software therefore implies a judgment on the future compatibility of the system chosen.

The standards proposed by ISO 8211 can be used as a partial insurance against problems in software transition.

Staffing Problems

There are two aspects to the staffing problem: attitudes and training.

(i) Attitudes:

It is most important that the introduction of automation should not be undertaken against the feeling of the staff in post, especially the professional staff. It is in fact most unlikely that bringing in computers will result in the reduction of professional staffing levels, so that fears of redundancy may be allayed after explanation. However, it is certain that automation will change habits and methods of working, and the staff have it in their power to prevent the full achievement of the objectives of a new system, if they wish to withdraw their active co-operation.

The usual way to avoid this kind of misunderstanding is to undertake changes only after consultation with the professional staff. The new project may then emerge as the result of that consultation, and in the form of an agreed plan. Additionally, there will probably be scope for those members of staff who are particularly interested, to take on new responsibilities in carrying out the initial analysis, and in supervising the introduction of new methods.

(ii) Training:

Questions of curriculum and level were discussed in the first part of this study.

The Automation Committee's international survey in 1985 enquired into the provision of training for staff involved in automation projects. Most replies indicated that archivists got their training by self-education: by reading books like this one, discussing technical questions with experts and doing what practical exercises they could find.

Another common form of training was by attending courses provided by computer manufacturers or computer marketing firms. Such courses are widely available, but they have the disadvantage that they are (naturally) geared to explaining the powers of one particular manufacture or system. Such courses may be very valuable (and when it is a question of training operatives for running a system which has been installed, indispensible, but they do not take the place of a broad training which will develop the students' power to examine systems critically and in comparison with each other.

In a few other cases, there were courses in computing available in institutions of technical or higher education, which staff members could attend. This too is a valuable resource, but such courses are often too much directed to the needs of scientific research, or of business administration, to be directly relevant to information workers.

Some archives services began their automation by recruiting new staff, with a requirement that candidates should have appropriate experience.

It is clear that in general the question of staff training has to be considered as one of the important matters involved in bringing in automation, and resources should be allocated to deal with it.


Introducing automation will involve capital and recurrent costs, but these may be set against savings on manual systems. The process, therefore, begins with an analysis of the costs of current manual systems. Unfortunately, it is not easy to estimate these accurately and there appear to be few or no published studies (Cook, 1986, pp.48-52).

Capital costs cover the purchase and installation of hardware and the initial purchase of software. Capital expenditure is minimised where there is maximum use of central services. Where there is strong support from these, expenditure in the archives service itself could be as low as the equivalent of US $4000 to cover the installation of a terminal, printer and modem to operate in connection with a mainframe computer already available. Alternatively, an independent microcomputer system would not necessarily have a higher cost than this.

Recurrent expenditure is largely on maintenance of both hard and software and on consumables such as stationery. There may be a charge for computer time in cases where the repository is using a central service. None of these costs is likely to be notably higher than corresponding costs in a manual service.

It is common for computer systems to be installed as a result of a specially funded experimental project. If a supporting agency can be found, this is an excellent way to undertake automation, for it allows for buying in expert analysis and supervision without taking on long-term commitments. There should, however, be a plan for maintaining the system after the end of the project.

Problems connected with systems planning

(i) Objectives:

The essential difficulty is that without a clear view of the objectives to be met by the system, archivists cannot proceed to plan or acquire any equipment; yet without an idea of what equipment is available, it is difficult to come to a decision on the ultimate objectives. a) Type of output or access envisaged; printout of inventories; printout of search results, or of specialised handlists; online search by staff or by users; remote use? b) Relationship with central services and with other information services; co-operation or networking? c) Data and sources to be included, and method of data capture and processing.

(ii) Technical Questions:

a) The bulk of data to be processed and stored.

b) The length of time automated data is to be held. Long term storage will involve setting up some form of data archive, and/or provision for transferring files to future new systems.

c) System security: making sure that there is no distortion or loss of data by unauthorising access or by improper processing.

(iii) Planning for the Future:

Eventually the existing installation will become out of date and both hard and software will have to be replaced. The new system should be an enhancement of the old, but should be able to use the databases compiled over the years.

Enhancement of the system will certainly involve questions of co-operation with one or more of the following:

a) The central administration of the employing agency: the introduction of electronic communication systems will involve records and archives management.

b) Information services operating in the locality: the likelihood of a Local Area Network (LAN) being developed.

c) Information services operating nationally: national networks and registers.

d) User groups, especially those organised in institutions of scientific or academic research.

Automation in small, poorly financed archives services and in developing countries

Provided that the technical infrastructure is present (as described in section 1), there is a very strong case for introducing automated methods into small and underfinanced archives and records services. The case would be strongest where the service has only one professional archivist or records manager, with minimal supporting staff. In this case it is important that the professional's output should be maximized, and that his or her control over all the processes of the service should be maintained. Automated methods are the way to ensure this, provided that time can be found for the initial planning. As indicated in Section V, the investment in financial terms is not by most standards a major one.

A good example of self-help and the intelligent use of local resources is that of the South Humberside Area Record Office in England (Bartle & Cook, 1983, p.35). This system is based upon a popular Commodore 64K microcomputer with a cheap Centronics printer and double disk drives. This means that the initial capital expenditure was probably less than US $500. The programs were written by the archivist in charge, using a variant of

BASIC, supplied with the machine, together with user manuals, at the time of purchase. Initially the data input consisted of descriptions at series level, structured into 7 fields (reference code, title, dates, provenance, accession date, location and notes). Later item-level descriptions were added and a simple search facility brought into use. Since data was held on 162K diskettes, initial sorting of these had to be done manually, but a change to hard disks would avoid this need. Remote access was planned at the administrative headquarters some miles away. The objective was primarily to improve the productivity of the small team, who were being overwhelmed with new accessions of material which could not be listed fast enough to keep pace.

The same principle operates in developing countries. Archives and records services here are likely to have the advantage that they are attached directly to central government and so are close to sources of decision in information, finance and technical services. The pioneer was probably the Archives Nationales of the Cote d'Ivoire, which undertook an automated system for retrieving information from the archive of official bulletins. The system was introduced in 1975 and ran for some years. A terminal linked to the central government computer was used, employing the information management package MISTRAL, which was available on the machine.

The National Archives of Malaysia has a pilot project now operational, using a Canon AS-100 microcomputer and a standard software package, dBase2. The pilot project is to compile a database of national pension records; that is, important administrative records which have to be managed and retried reliably. It is proposed to extend the system next to group/collection level descriptions. An active programme for training specialists from among the professional staff is in progress.

Automation is under active consideration in several areas of the southern hemisphere, notably in Latin America (for which the ICA Automation Committee ran a training workshop in 1985), South-east Asia and the Pacific countries. Professional colleagues in these regions recognise, in broad terms, the benefits which well designed automation projects will bring, but find that infrastructure and training are constraints. Comparative measurements of productivity using automated methods and manual methods will usually show that cost should not be an important factor.

Computers have provided the first important new tool for archives and records management since the invention of the typewriter a century ago. Some archives initially resisted the new methods because they felt that they were inappropriate; some because of the cost of reinvestment. We are now at a point in history when it is possible to see that the new methods are very relevant and appropriate to all forms of information management and that the cost of running them is likely to be comparable to the costs of manual methods. The new ways do indeed demand that archivists should rethink their aims and strategies; but this is good in itself and leads to a new vigour and enthusiasm among a professional staff given new goals and a new stimulus to achievement.

Eckhart G Franz


UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. The scientific and cultural significance of Archives, their role as a reservoir for scholarly research and as a prominent part of a nation's cultural heritage have placed them within the scope of UNESCO'S activity from the beginning of the organisation. UNESCO sponsored the creation of the International Council on Archives, which held its first International Congress in Paris, in August 1950. Two months later Charles Braibant, Director General of the French Archives and newly elected President of ICA, initiated the first "Service éducatif" in conjunction with the Museum of French History at the French National Archives, one of the lasting contributions of this eminent archivist to the reorientation of the archival profession.

The idea of archival exhibitions as permanent displays of previous documents in museum style or as occasional presentations to celebrate special events is certainly much older, and the occasional visitors to such exhibitions will have included university or high-school students or even student groups, which were led there by an interested teacher. Starting in 1880, repeated ministerial instructions in Belgium asked the heads of educational institutions to organise such visits to exhibitions in the central and provincial archives, and in 1912 a French circular provided for the instruction of future teachers on the potential use of archival documents in history teaching, which was to be accompanied by a visit to an archive repository. In England the first recommendations to use original historical documents in school are to be found in H M Inspector's reports in the 1950's. There were certainly school visits to archival institutions, perhaps following or preceding similar visits to a museum, a hospital or a sugar factory.

The novelty of the French approach of 1950 was the idea of a systematic co-operation between archivists and educators to facilitate the educational use of archival resources. Within the "Service éducatif", as it was established at the National Archives and subsequently at virtually all of the Archives departementales (regional) archives and also at some of the municipal repositories, history teachers on part-time secondment were charged with the preparation of archival exhibitions, which corresponded to educational needs, with the formulation of explanatory texts, with the organisation of guided visits to the exhibitions or to the repositories, a field of action which was to be expanded later.

News about the French archivists' invasion into the educational domain spread very quickly in Europe. This was due to another invention of Charles Braibant: the "Stage technique international des Archives", an international archives course which he inaugurated at the French National Archives in Paris in the winter of 1951/52. Only two years later, in 19.53, a symposium of archivists and teachers in Belgium voiced its enthusiasm for the French project (1). In 1954 "Archives and education", "Les archives et l'enseignement", was the main theme of the First International Round Table Conference in Paris (2). Within ten years' time, every Frenchman who leaves high school will temember the encounter with the breath of History, which he experienced on his visit to the archives" was the visionary comment of a German archivist's report in 1956 (3).

In spite of the quite encouraging results in France - a steady increase in the annual participation in the activities of 'Service éducatif' with more than 30,000 students participating in 1958 when organised services existed in 20 departments, a figure which rose to more than 200,000 with complete coverage in 1979 - traditionally minded archivists in neighbouring European countries were rather slow actually to follow the French lead. The so-called 'Service éducatif' which was attached to the "Vlaamse Huuis" in Anderlecht, a permanent exhibition of the Belgian General State Archieves on the outskirts of Brussels, which opened in 1961, did not obtain the necessary educational personnel, so that it was restricted practically to the preparation of exhibitions.

It required a new generation of archivists and a new approach to history teaching to obtain a more general acceptance of the educational mission of archives. Starting in the mid-1960's, there were lively discussions on the subject in various European countries. An extensive debate was held in late 1963 at the annual conference or "Studiedagen" of the Dutch Association of Archivists (4). In Spring 1965, at the IIIrd Congress of the G.D.R. "German Society of Historians", a special working session with archivists and museum curators was devoted to a first discussion on 'Archives and School', with special reference to the positive French experience, and also to Russian precedents (5).

In 1969 leading archivists in Eastern and Western Germany, when defining the "public" responsibility of archives, insisted on the necessity of taking a more active part in public education. "It should be part of the archivist's responsibility to develop such educational schools services as may be regarded appropriate", was the matter-of-fact formula of British Recommendations for Local Government Archives Services in 1971 (6). Intervention in education at various levels is part of the archival "outreach" as American archivists had come to conceive it in the late 70's, when the positive results of archival activities in connection with the bicentennial celebrations of the American Constitution were transformed into a continuing programme.

That service to education is an integral part of the archivist's functions, as the French Manuel d'Archivistique put it in 1970, seems to be a matter of almost general consensus today, although there are still wide differences in the degree to which this postulate has been put into effect. While visits and studies of pupils of various ages to the archives, or lectures by archivists in schools are common practice in England and France, with a vast literature on methods to be used and accounts of practical experience, other countries are only just launching their first experiments in the field. Archive administrations in various Third World countries like Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe are co-operating with the education authorities in developing plans for a more active involvement of archives in teaching.

To assist such discussions where they are about to start and to give support to archivists who try to develop educational programmes of their own, is one of the major purposes of this study. The comparative analysis of experiences in various countries will serve to demonstrate the wide range of potential activities in this field. It will lead to some recommendations and to some warnings as well, though it may be too early as yet to define anything like standardised guidelines.


1. Cf. C Wyffels. "De educative activiteiten van het RiJksarchief". Gedenkboek Michiel Mispelon. 1982, p.602.

2. Cf. "Les Archives et l'enseignement". Actes de la première Conference internationale de la Table Ronde des Archives. In: Une Table Ronde utile a l'Histoire. Paris: 1958.

3. Cf. Franz Herberhold, "Der Service éducatif in Frankreich. Seine Möglichkeiten bei uns". In: Geschichte in Wissenschaft and Unterricht 7 (1956), p.288.

4. Cf. "De educatieve teak van het archiefwezen". Nederlands Archievenblad 67 (1963), 77 - 117.

5. Cf. Eberhard Schetelich, "Archiv und Schule". Archivmitteilungen 15 (1965, 106 - 110.

6. Published by the Society of Archivists. Cf. Michael Cook. Archives Administration. London 1977. Appendix A. p.203.



The major results and conclusions of this study may be summarised in terms of the following guidelines:

i) The first step towards the development of an archives education programme must be the establishment by the archival agency of close contacts with the competent education authority, of a co-operative working relationship with teachers' centres and with interested teachers within the region (cf. section 4.2).

ii) To gain practical experience, it may be useful for the archival agency to undertake experimental pilot projects with an interested teacher and his class, a specific school or a teachers' group; this may involve either the educational use of archival exhibitions or the classroom use of archival documents (cf. section 4.2 and 4.3).

iii) Although in preparing exhibitions and arranging for visits to their repositories most archivists will provide certain educational services, a systematic archives education programme is only feasible with the assistance of specialised educational personnel. The usual arrangement is the secondment of experienced teachers to the archives, mostly on a part-time basis with periodic alternation (cf. section 4.3).

iv) The material prerequisites of an archives education programme are the provision of adequate facilities including at least one seminar room of school class capacity within or close to the archives, possibly a second room for exhibitions, an office and some storage space; equipment should include movable furniture, blackboard, display screens and show-cases, slide and/or overhead projector, possibly video equipment, a photocopier or easy access to archival copying facilities, a basic reference library and some budget provision for paper and other materials (cf. section 4.4). Costs for travel and transport will be lower if a service vehicle ("Archivobus") can be provided (cf. section 3.3).

v) The activities of an archives education service should include:

a) Organised information visits to the archive repository, with an introduction to the functions of an archive service and the various types of archival sources. A standardised introduction may be replaced by an introductory slide tape or video presentation, which is also available for outside use, in schools beyond excursion distance, or for educational television (cf. sections 3.1 and 5.4).

b) The preparation of a permanent archival exhibition and of temporary exhibitions and displays on certain syllabus subjects, adapted to education needs, with accompanying educational materials (explanations, suggestions for education use, worksheets). To serve schools beyond excursion distance travelling exhibitions should be organised for display in schools or other public centres (cf. section 3.2).

c) The identification and selection of archival documents to illustrate certain aspects of events of national, regional or local history or for classroom work on certain subjects. This may lead to the compilation of an archival document bank of master copies, to its duplication for regional or local centres; and to the production of archive teaching units or kits consisting of facsimiles documents with explanations for educational use and, if necessary, transcriptions and/or translations (cf. sections 3.3, 5.2 and 5.3).

d) The publication of archives teaching units and of corresponding sets of slides or overhead transparencies, which may profit from co-operation with teachers' resouces centres or other competent agencies (cf. sections 5.3 and 5.4).

e) The identification of topics and support for individual and group research projects, either as part of the regular teaching programme or in the context of national or regional research competitions, which are used to motivate the students' interest in archival work (cf. section 3.4).

f) Contribution to educational broadcasting, radio or television transmissions, an activity which deserves further development (cf. section 4.5).

D L Thomas



1.1 This survey is the result of an expert consultation convened by the International Council on Archives on behalf of Unesco, at Bari, Italy in 1979 which recommended the collection, dissemination and keeping up-to-date of a corpus of national standards relevant to records and archives management.

1.2 The report is based on three sources: i) The returns to Michael Roper's survey for his proposed RAMP study: Directory of national standards relating to archives administration and records management. ii) The collection of standards held in the library of the British Standards Institution, Linford Wood, Milton Keynes, Bucks, United Kingdom. iii) A questionnaire submitted to all national archives or equivalent institutions in member countries of ICA.

1.3 The report is arranged in six sections : summary of standards for paper (section 2); summary of standards for inks (section 3); directory (section 4); conclusion (section 5) and bibliography, giving references to published works other than standards (section


1.4 Section 2 lists and details all standards for permanent paper and lists other standards for paper. It omits those standards which specify paper sizes or which describe methods of testing paper, as there are existing ISO standards on these subjects. Slightly less relevant standards, such as those for drawing papers, carbon paper or for designs of forms, letterheads, etc have not been included.

1.5 Section 3 summarises standards for inks used in fountain or dip pens, ball point or fibre tipped pens, typewriter ribbons, stamp pads, and for printing and duplicating, as well as one solitary standard for the image of photocopiers.

1.6 Section 4 lists all standards by country, as well as indicating those countries which have not been identified as having relevant standards and those for which no information is available.

Addresses are provided from which copies may be obtained. Cross references are provided to those standards which are summarised elsewhere in the report.

1.7 Standards are produced in very many languages in considerable technical detail and for this reason it has not proved possible to provide summaries of all of them. Although every effort has been made to produce accurate summaries, there is not sufficient space to provide full technical details and it is important that anyone wishing to make use of any standard described in this list should consult the original


5.1 The first conclusion must be that, in general, archives and archival institutions are not, in themselves, major producers of standards. Apart from Denmark (where the national archives in conjunction with the state purchasing office issued guidelines for the use of paper by state institutions) and Finland (where the national archives is responsible for implementing a state administrative standard) the standards listed here are all either issued by governments, or, in the majority of cases, by national standards institutions. It does appear, however, that archivists were members of many of the committees which drafted them.

5.2 The only other possible source of standards which has not been explored in this report and which might be interesting to pursue at a later date is government printing offices and purchasing departments, some of which do appear to have their own standards.

5.3 Standards for Paper:

There has been considerable research, over many years, into the reasons for the decay of paper and this research has been reflected in the publication of a number of standards for permanent paper (section 2.2). Archivists wishing to purchase or recommend a permanent paper have a number of possible standards which they could specify.

5.4 It would probably be of considerable benefit if an international standard for permanent paper could be issued. It is suggested that the American National Standard - Permanent Paper for Printed Library Materials (Z39.48-1984) would form a suitable basis for such a standard as it contains elements which are common to most other standards, is very up-to-date and is relatively simple (section 2.1.4).

5.3 Standards for Ink:

There has been a great deal of research over a very long period into techniques for producing permanent inks for use in fountain pens and dip pens; monks in the tenth century and even earlier were capable of making such a material. As a result, there are many national standards for these products, all of which are very similar and any one of which could be used by archivists as a source of information or as a basis for ordering inks (section 3.2).

5.6 It appears that there has been little research into the fading or long term performance of inks for ball point pens, marking pens or similar products. There are a number of standards for these products, some of which specify lightfastness and resistance to certain chemicals. In the absence of the detailed published research and long term experience of use which applies to fountain pen inks, it is not possible to provide a critical assessment of these standards (section 3.3). There is clearly a need for further research into the permanence of modern writing materials in order to provide accurate guidelines for archivists.

5.7 Standards for Typewriter Ribbons:

There are only a few standards for these and they are for fabric, rather than film ribbons; they do, however, include specifications for lightfastness. In view of the rapid rate at which the technology of typewriters and computer printers is changing, it is probably not an appropriate time to attempt to set standards for these products.

5.8 Standards for Stamp Pad Inks:

There are a number of standards for these. The most interesting one is not a formal national standard, but a product specification issued by the Library of Congress for its own in-house ink. This specification covers all the requirements for a secure, safe and permanent stamp pad ink and would be a good model against which to test the products of other manufacturers (section 3.5.9).

5.9 Standards for Printing Inks:

Experience has shown that printing ink is normally long lasting and that the major threat to books is the quality of the paper and binding materials, not the quality of the ink. The standards are primarily concerned with the performance of the ink and its suitability for its intended application, although some standards do specify lightfastness, resistance to water and solvents.

5.10 Standards for Inks for Duplicators:

These standards are not archival and the process does not appear to be capable of creating permanent records (section 3.7).

5.11 Standards for Photocopier Images:

Only one such standard has been identified and it appears to be in applicable to modern photocopier systems (section 3.8). Because of the enormous popularity of these machines and the large number of photocopies which are being transferred to archives, more research is needed in this area and appropriate standards should be issued.

D L Thomas


1.1 There exists a large literature on the subject of the preservation of archival documents. This RAMP study is intended to provide archivists with an outline of current standards which they can apply to their own specific situations. It is not intended as a literature survey, but as a series of guidelines for the solution of specific problems which can be used by archivists, architects and others involved in the planning or running of archival institutions. It is, however, closely linked to recent publications and full references are given.

1.2 In particular, it is written with the problems of developing countries, especially those in tropical areas, in mind. Such archives face formidable problems; not only is their environment hostile to records, but they often face shortages of funds, trained personnel and training facilities, as well as finding it difficult to obtain complex machinery or spare parts. Consequently, the approach of the report is deliberately oriented towards economy and a low level of technology; complex machinery has not been suggested unless its use cannot be avoided and the simplest acceptable solutions have been put forward.

1.3 Records are at risk from two major types of hazard. Firstly, they may be affected by unsuitable environmental conditions : a climate which is too hot, dry, humid or polluted. Secondly, they may suffer physical damage as a result of lack of care which may result in their being exposed to fire, water. excessive light, insects and pests or to their being mishandled or stolen.

1.4 A three pronged approach is needed to the care of records. Firstly, it is important to ensure a high level of good housekeeping. The building in which they are stored should be kept clean and in good condition : rubbish should be quickly removed and storage areas kept tidy and free from dust. Any structural damage should be repaired as quickly as possible. Secondly, all records (including bound volumes) should be boxed; this is the cheapest and most effective way of providing a reasonable measure of protection against unsuitable environmental conditions, light, fire, water, insects and mishandling. Thirdly, there should be a considered, long-term plan for the preservation of the records. Information should be assembled about their current condition, the environment in which they are stored and the dangers to which they are exposed. In particular, the temperature and relative humidity levels in the repository should be measured over a long period to obtain information about the effects of seasonal climatic changes; data about the local climate and air pollution levels should be obtained from appropriate experts. The advice of specialists in fire prevention and security should be sought, while the physical condition of the records should be examined by a skilled conservator. When all this information has been gathered, it should be possible to make a proper assessment of the situation and to draw up a long-term programme for the preservation of the records. The existence of such a programme will make it possible to allocate resources effectively and could form a basis for requests for further funding. This study, by providing detailed information about specific hazards and ways of dealing with them should help in the compilation of such a long-term programme.

1.5 Archivists who are planning new buildings should read this report in conjunction with the excellent Unesco published study, Bell, Lionel, and Faye, Bernard, La Conception des batiments d'archives en pays tropical, Paris, Unesco, 1979 (Documentation, bibliotheques et recherches).


References in parentheses are to the relevant paragraphs in the study.

9.1 Introduction

This study is concerned with the protection of records against unsuitable environmental conditions, air pollution, light, theft, damage, fire, water, insects, mould and vermin. These hazards are described in detail (3.1 - 3.12).

9.2 Specific Recommendations

9.2.1 Location of building

The building should be on a site which is free from natural and man made hazards, is large enough to accommodation future extensions, is close to users and provides suitable environmental conditions (4.1).

9.2.2 Building structure

The building should provide protection against natural hazards and have a high degree of thermal inertia to ensure that the interior temperature and relative humidity remain reasonably stable and unaffected by fluctuations in the exterior conditions (4.2).

9.2.3 Maintenance of safe and stable climate

The main priority for climatic control is to ensure a suitable level of relative humidity which should be stable and within the range 45-65%. The actual level chosen should be close to local climatic conditions. The ideal temperature should be between 15 and 22C. There are a number of alternative methods of controlling the climate (5.1).

9.2.4 Protection against air pollution

It is possible to provide protection against indoor sources of pollution by good planning and sensible work practices. Outdoor sources of pollution can only be totally controlled by full air conditioning, although there are a few simple steps which can reduce the impact of polluted air. Cleaning is vitally important in the fight against pollution (5.2).

9.2.5 Protection against light

Provided that all records are boxed, there is little danger from light in the repository, although it should be kept off the face of shelving. The principles to be observed in designing lighting for archive buildings are safety, practicality and economy (5.3).

9.2.6 Security

The problem of security in archives may be greater than is generally realised. New staff should undergo background checks and the identity of readers should be confirmed. One official should be resources effectively and could form a basis for requests for further funding. This study, by providing detailed information about specific hazards and ways of dealing with them should help in the compilation of such a long-term programme.

1.5 Archivists who are planning new buildings should read this report in conjunction with the excellent Unesco published study, Bell, Lionel, and Faye, Bernard, La Conception des batiments d' archives en pays tropical, Paris, Unesco, 1979 (Documentation, bibliotheques et recherches). given responsibility for security, although all staff should be encouraged to have a positive attitude towards it. Security procedures should be carefully defined and strictly enforced, particularly in the repository and reading rooms. Special care should be taken to protect fragile or valuable items. There should be a comprehensive set of rules governing the conduct of readers (a simple model for such rules is given). The design of the building is important in preserving security and special attention should be given to the problems of shared buildings and the possible use of electronic security measures (5.4).

9.2.7 Protection against physical damage

The most important ways to protect documents are to pack them properly and to train and motivate the staff. There is a major risk of damage when records are being photocopied or filmed and safe working procedures must be established (5.5).

9.2.8 Protection against fire

Prevention of fire requires special work practices, building design and the installation of systems for detection and extinction (5.6).

9.2.9 Protection against water

The major dangers are from storms, failures of plumbing and firefighting. They can be minimized by good maintenance, by avoiding the use of basements and by other techniques, including the use of sensors which detect flooding. All archives should have a disaster plan for dealing with severe flooding (5. 7).

9.2.10 Protection against insects, mould and pests

Technical methods are required for dealing with these pests. Care is always needed in the choice and use of substances potentially harmful to people (5. 8).

9.2.11 Shelving and packing

Minimum requirements should be prescribed for shelving and for the materials and methods used to pack volumes, files and loose sheets, outsize documents and seals (6.1 - 6. 2).

9.2.12 Exhibitions

The exhibition of documents presents a conflict between the need to preserve material and the desire to make it available. The main problems are the requirement to maintain a stable environment, the difficulty of displaying bound volumes safely, the provision of protection against light and pollution and the necessity of providing a high level of security. It is also important to have a clear policy on lending material for exhibitions (7.1 - 7.7).

9.2.13 Non-traditional materials

Photographs, sound recordings and computer tapes are much more susceptible to damage due to unsuitable environmental conditions and atmospheric pollution than are traditional records. While it may be possible to preserve conventional records without using elaborate methods of controlling the environment, these materials will not survive without sophisticated air conditioning (8.1 - 8.12).

Bodil Ulate Segura


Archives have existed as long as the assertion of power and the definition of rights have been expressed in written form, whether on clay, papyrus, paper or other medium. We are aware of archives in civilisations as ancient and different as those of Pharaonic Egypt, India, China and Greece.

In the beginning, archives were only of legal and constitutional value and importance, preserved to demonstrate and protect the rights of their owner: the State, the City, the monastery, or a private person. The role of the archivist was to serve the owner of the archives and his needs for secure and prompt access to documentation of his position. Evidential value was important, rather than the possibility of being used as sources for historical research.

This conception of archives meant a restrictive attidude towards other potential users. Researchers received permission for access to archives, but only when they had been officially commissioned to write about historical events, and, in such cases, they were instructed on what to write, how to do so, and to keep the intentions of the commissioner in mind.

Attitudinal changes that gradually opened the archives for researchers occurred during the 18th century. In 1762, Jean Jacques Rousseau's Du contrat social asserted that people have the right to control those who govern them. This led Voltaire to declare that people have the right to criticise and, therefore, the right to knowledge. During the French Revolution, these new ideas were expressed in the first law on archives: the Declaration of Archival Rights of 25 June 1794, which proclaimed that the citizens would have free access to archives belonging to the Nation. This democratic right did not live long in France, or elsewhere, and perhaps its full spirit exists only in Sweden and a few other western democracies.

The conception and role of archives changed further during the course of the 19th century, due largely to the increasingly transitory nature of documents' legality. National archives established in many countries began more and more to preserve documents that were interesting from an historical point of view, rather than of a purely legal or constitutional value, causing historical researchers to use the archives.

However, such access is generally a right reserved to scholars researching the past. Others rarely enjoy the use of archives for the purpose of gathering information on recent or current governmental or administrative procedures or events.

In many countries, rules and regulations restrict the use of archives, but the gradual widening of spheres of interest among scholars and other users, in addition to the emergence of the right to information in the 1960's, has created new demands for accessibility. The issue no longer rests on the scholar's right to archival access for purposes of research, but on new demands emanating from citizens' claims to information as a democratic right. As a consequence, we are on the threshhold of new rules and regulations that will liberate access. Some societies have already complied with these demands, but the great majority have not yet taken this step. Sooner or later this development will have repercussions among the United Nations system of organisations, a primary reason for this study.

Times have also been changing for archivists. Once administrators with a background in legal studies, servicing and promoting historical research, they are becoming a medium that receives, preserves, arranges, describes and communicates information of different kinds. At present, the archives profession is specialised, but multi-faceted, and intimately related to the enormous growth of modern administration and the resultant records that have created a need for early appraisal in order to save expensive space.

In a sense, today's archivist has a double function: to serve both the administration that produced the records and the public seeking information. In the long view, the allegiance of the archivist of our times is neither to the administration nor to the researcher; his responsibilities belong to the archives he holds in his custody for generations to come. He is the ombudsman of the records and archives for the future.

Bearing in mind all the previous considerations and developments and the fact that the United Nations System has had, and continues to have, an influential role in shaping our world, both in the field of international relations and the impact of resources allocated to relief and development, the question of accessibility to the records/archives of the international organisations is of primordial importance. These sources of information are essential to the writing of much contemporary history and in the description of human activities around our planet.


The gradual liberalisation of access to archives in recent times has had an impact on international organisations. Archives are no longer important purely for historical inquiry, but for social science and other disciplines. Thus, the role and use of archives have been redefined by modern administration and research trends and are responsive to contemporary intellectual. currents and political concerns.

Experience has also shown that accessibility to archives has transnational implications. The international community responded to the challenge of establishing archival repositories in former colonies, or in countries needing archival facilities of a specific nature, through the implementation of reprographic programmes, such as those initiated by UNESCO or the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Without doubt, the time will come when international organisations must also take a step forward in this direction, because of the importance of their archives for research on a national or international level.

Thus, the consequences of harmonisation in the management of records/archives of international organisations, or the lack thereof, will be determinative in the quality of response to the need of the international community, since the archives of these organisations are, as already stated, the documentation centre for many important questions requiring a multi-lateral approach. For this reason, the conclusions and guidelines treat access as an important factor that is greatly affected by the quality of archives administration.

6.1 The Background

According to some scholars, current literature on international organisations is all too often based more on wishful thinking than on facts. Therefore, it is in the organisations' own interest to open their archives so that their work could be analysed and evaluated on the basis of primary sources that reflect the background to the decisions made and the actions taken. Although these sources may record failures and frustrated dreams, they can bring new realism to the study of internationalism. Consequently, the preservation and the liberalisation of access to these archives are fundamental to the reversal of the present situation.

In a broader context, archives administration within international organisations is, in no essential respect, different from that in national governments, in business, or in research institutions. The techniques, principles and problems are the same. Equal attention must be devoted to rescuing valuable records and getting rid of ephemeral ones. There is also a current preoccupation with the control of records in formation. Regardless of the organisation in question, equal attention to records management, appraisal and disposition is essential to effecting solid administration and economy, despite the pressures of personnel and space limitations.

6.2 The State of Affairs

Records/archives lacking standards and procedures for classification and declassification, retention periods, disposal policies and realistic conditions of access mean frustration to archivists as well as to internal and external users. The present survey has revealed a number of inadequacies in regard to the international organisations. Among the sample of the 34 international organisations chosen, only 41.2 per cent answered the questionnaire in a comprehensive manner. What is happening, if anything, in the field of archives administration in the other 58.8 per cent? So much information is missing that it seems almost impossible to get a clear picture of the actual situation.

Recent developments, however, give some cause for optimism. The highest authority in the United Nations System, the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC), made the decision that "the preservation of the archives of the United Nations and the specialised agencies" should be promoted. Unfortunately, the present serious financial crisis in the UN System has slowed the implementation of that decision, but there is hope for the future. UNICEF has set up an archives programme and engaged an archivist to organise its holdings, and, at the same time, adopted "Procedural guidelines for records and archives" (9 November 1983). And the United Nations Secretariat reinforced the principle of inviolability of records, as expressed in a revised "Administrative instruction: the UN Archives" (28 December 1984).

In general, rules and procedures relating to archives are rather scarce in the international organisations, although these instructions are essential in the maintenance of an operative records/archives management service. In this survey 11 organisations reported that they have such instructions, but only five submitted the texts as requested. Instructions of the IMF, UN Secretariat (also followed by UNECA and UNOG), UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO satisfy the standards of what is considered to be good archives administration. Otherwise, the so-called instructions are simply correspondence and registry manuals for secretaries, if the organisation has even such instructions.

A better understanding of the vital importance of archives as a source for well-functioning administrations and as evidence of the work accomplished by the organisation, and indisputable proof of its role in the world community is to be hoped for.

Therefore, the primary task of ICA's Section of Archivists of International Organisations is to redouble its efforts in its commitment to promote a better understanding among administrators of archival functions and to encourage the implementation of the ACC decision of 1984. Success in this objective would result in a professionalisation of archives services.

The second priority should be the development and creation of a common core of rules and regulations for archives among the agencies of the UN System. If ICA's work in the last several decades has already produced results in harmonising national legislation throughout the world, causing a universal approach to many archival problems, one may well expect the same from a group of organisations having a common objective: "to be centre for harmonising the actions of nations in the attainment" of common ends in peace and security, international relations, and co-operation "in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion". Perhaps the proposal expressed by Dr Ernst Posner in 1961 is still valid: get together the countries interested in solving this situation and "discuss the problem in the responsible committee" of the UN or any other organisation.

6.3 Diversity in Access

Accepting the definition of access as "the availability of records/archives for consultation as a result both of legal authorisation and the existence of finding aids" means detailed responsibilities for archives administration. The manner in which UN agencies are dealing with this question differ in many respects and, for that reason, it is of interest to examine the content of selected rules and procedures.

6.3.1 The United Nations Archives

An Administrative Instruction, ST/AI/326, of 28 December 1984 "explains the guidelines concerning internal and public access to the United Nations archives". Access is given both to archives and non-current records kept by the service. It is clearly stated that staff members of the Secretariat may have access if they need the documents for official business, "except those subject to restrictions imposed by the Secretary-General". Regarding public access to archives and records, it is asserted that:

(a) they are open if they were accessible when created;

(b) they are open if they are more than 20 years and not subject to restrictions; and,

(c) they are open if they are less than 20 years and not subject to restrictions.

Consequently, the United Nations Secretariat follows a time limit of 20 years, but with flexibility in regard to non-restricted material. With respect to restricted records the Secretary-General has imposed two levels of classification:

- ST - Strictly Confidential to records originating with the Secretary-General, the unauthorised disclosure of which could "cause grave damage to confidence in the Secretary-General's Office(s) or to the United Nations".

- SG - Confidential to records originating with the Secretary-General, the unauthorised disclosure of which could "cause damage to the proper functioning of the United Nations Secretariat".

"SG - Confidential" records are automatically declassified when 20 years old, and "SG - Strictly Confidential" are reviewed for declassification at this age. Declassification in either case can be approved prior to the expiration of 20 years.

The United Nations Archives rule of a 20 year time limit is gaining wider acceptance, as in the case of UNESCO and UNICEF, and it could be a starting point in discussions on the subject of access.

6.3.2 UNESCO Archives

The "Rules governing access by outside persons to UNESCO's Archives" reveal that the holdings consist of documents, field mission reports and records. The first two are "freely accessible in the reading room of the Archives Section", although documents can be marked

"restricted and confidential" and access given only "if the prior agreement of the relevant unit of the Secretariat has been obtained". Often, the documents are mimeographed or other multicopied material but not archival documents.

The third category, records, is another case. According to the Chief Archivist, a relaxation in access is currently under consideration, following the UN Secretariat's rule of 20 year time limit. Until any changes are made, the rules in force place it at 30 years, "with the exception of certain types of material where UNESCO may decide on a shorter period". A closed period limit of 50 years is imposed on the following material:

- files containing exceptionally sensitive information on relations between Unesco and its Member States, between Unesco and the United Nations, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations;

- files containing papers which, if divulged, might injure the reputation, affect the privacy or endanger the safety of individuals;

- personnel files of officials or agents of Unesco; and,

- confidential files of the offices of the Unesco Director-General; Deputy Director-General and Assistant Directors-General.

It should be stressed that access to archives within the open period can be refused if they are "unmistakably of confidential nature still" and exceptions "to a paper or file that is not yet in the open period may be made by the Chief Archivist" after some provisions are fulfilled. The UNESCO rules thus also have a degree of flexibility.

6.3.3 UNICEF Records and Archives

This organisation has adopted rules and regulations similar to those promulgated by the UN Archives. The "Procedural guidelines for UNICEF records and archives" of 9 November 1983 follow closely the access conditions and 20-year rule adopted by the UN Secretariat. Archives and non-current records follow the same pattern of consultations and restrictions. Except that the latter can be imposed either by the Secretary-General of the UN, the Executive Director of UNICEF or their authorised representatives.

6.3.4 WHO Archives

These archives are defined primarily as "documents and correspondence of various kinds, received or produced by the Organisation .... in the course of carrying out its functions, and which have been preserved in whatsoever form for documentary and historical purposes. External material, whether public or private, relating to the activities of the Organisation may be added to the archives; such material shall also be subject to these rules". That reference appears in "Rules governing access to WHO Archives" of 15 February 1974.

Access is given in situ after a time limit of 40 years but more recent material can also be freely consulted if it does not have any confidential component. In practice a pragmatic 10-year time limit is also employed. The determination of what is confidential is a prerogative of the organisation and is not clarified in the rules. WHO Archives also has material with closed periods of up to 60 years, i.e. "files containing information which, if disclosed, might prejudice the reputation, personal safety or privacy of individuals".

6.3.5 IMF Archives

This organisation applies no time limit for access to its holdings. "General Administrative Order No.26, Rev.l" of 1st November 1969, states: "All Fund documents and other records shall be considered restricted and not for public use except when designed for transmission to the public or specifically authorised for distribution to a particular recipient or group of recipients". The documents may also be classified as confidential or secret:

- "Confidential - records containing information, the unauthorised disclosure of which might be prejudicial to the interest of the Fund or its members. Records, the subject of which required limitations on use for reason of administrative privacy.

- Secret - records containing information, the unauthorised disclosure of which would endanger the effectiveness of a program or policy, or hamper negotiations in progress, or which could be used to private advantage. Use of this classification should be held to an absolute minimum".

6.3.6 Overview

In summary, from the above examples, it appears that access to the records/archives of international organisations is related to the identification of what is in the archives: the interpretation of the right to information:; respect for privacy of individuals; and the protection of the organisation's different spheres of interest. In addition, to open archives to the public means that the organisation must comply with basic requisites, including a good record management system and the provision of user facilities. These goals have not been realised in many international organisations at the present time.

6.4 The Concept of Inviolability

An enormous drain of particularly important holdings has been confirmed by Peter Walne's research on "Archives of International Organisations and Their Former Officials in the custody of national and other archival and manuscript repositories". A more precise and strong definition of the inviolability, or inalienability, of archives within the UN System has been needed for a long time. Walne's findings document a widespread dispersal of UN archives among Finland, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Certainly, much more material created by international organisations and unidentified by Walne's research still remains in national or private institutions.

It is surprising to learn of the volume and nature of the records/archives of former UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskiold, now kept in the Royal Library (Kungliga Biblioteket) in Stockholm. The description of what must be regarded as records/archives belonging to the United Nations comprises 15 printed pages in Walne's study. But he does not mention other repositories in Sweden having records/archives belonging to international organisations such as the Archives of the Labour Movement (Arbetarrorelsens arkiv), which has custody of records/archives of Alva and Gunnar Myrdal from their tenure with the UN Secretariat and the Economic Commission for Europe, or the records kept in the Archives of the National Board of Police (Rikspolisstyrelsens arkiv) concerning recruitment of soldiers as UN observation troops. Some of these records might duplicate originals and have been kept for personal or administrative convenience. However, as the whereabouts of the originals are unknown, they serve as today's records.

The present study has already clarified the impact of this regrettable phenomenon on access, but recognition of this serious problem is only half the battle. The current task for archival services of many international organisations is the method by which to recover these holdings or to at least establish microfilming programs to duplicate their alienated records, in order to complete their holdings.

In the light of this, the definition of inviolability is very important. Some archival instructions treat the subject in a very superficial manner, and their inadequacies show lack of conern on the part of international organisations IMF'S administrative order asserts that the records "are the Fund's property and cannot be removed from its custody or be disposed in any manner or destroyed" without approval.

The United Nations Secretariat has developed an in-depth approach, defining in detail the legal title to the records produced by the organisation and declaring their inviolability in an indisputable manner. "All records, regardless of physical form, created or received by a member of the Secretariat in connection with or as a result of the official work of the United Nations are the property of the United Nations", says the administrative instruction. According to the same document, high ranking officers are contacted by the Archives Section before they leave the Organisation and their records are screened by an archivist in order to decide whether there should be a transfer or not to the Archives. The officer "shall not remove any records from the United Nations premises". However, the instructions acknowledge that separated staff members "are entitled to have a reasonable number of unrestricted documents in their possession copied at their own expense and to retain their private papers". There are also rules for the separation of the "Secretary-General's private papers from his official records".

To the extent possible, a given organisation should bear in mind the Secretariat's regulations in order to avoid the loss of records/archives, which creates so many problems.

6.5 Towards Change

The different criteria adopted by the international organisations regarding accessibility, as reflected by the results of this survey, reinforce the argument that a serious discussion about administrative instructions and procedures on records/archives is needed, especially with those organisations without any such instrument. If no action in accordance with the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination of 1984 is taken in this regard, chaos will characterise the records/archives in formation; organisations will continue to ignore the responsibilities entrusted to them as administrators of a specific field of action in the world community; and they cannot perform their duties in preserving and caring for a very special documentary treasure of mankind. The archives resulting from and documenting their activities are of unique historical and cultural value, and absolutely necessary to an understanding of the changes occurring in our times.

Initially, in the effort to implement an archives program, a drive should be undertaken to inform administrators as to what records/archives management can really mean to them, and to make them understand the beneficial budgetary implications of an archival program which can accrue both to the organisation and researchers and other users. If smaller organisations cannot afford professional archivists and the creation of an archives service, other solutions should be considered, such as hiring a consultant to organise, arrange and describe the archives, to screen them and to establish rules for access. Even better, several smaller organisations should go together and constitute an archival depository as is now discussed for the UN agencies in Geneva.

In general terms, professional and expert advice is needed to establish rules and regulations for the active part of the record life-cycle to assure their transformation into valuable archives. The necessary steps include:

- planning and conducting records surveys to identify all records at every level, whether current, semi-current or non-current;

- creating and implementing classification/declassification schemes, to define which records/archives should be restricted/ confidential/secret, and for how long;

- establishing and applying retention schedules with defined time periods at which records should be transferred to an intermediate repository or to the archive repository. Most records are not needed in the offices for administrative, legal or fiscal use more than 3 to 5 years and should be removed thereafter in order to free high-cost office space and filing equipment;

- establishing and implementing transfer procedures, featuring a file list to be used as a finding aid until the records can be appraised;

- establishing and implementing an appraisal program, to make possible regularized and authorised destruction of records lacking archival value;

- establishing rules for decisions on appraisal and destruction of records. Preferably, only one person should make the decision, in collaboration with the originating office or the concerned senior officer; preparation of finding aids of different types that not only describe the content of the records/archives, but also explain their administrative and functional context; formulating and applying regulations on access to holdings that consider all legal, economic, administrative, cultural and historical implications; and, formulating users instructions explaining how to request permission to consult the archives and, if given access, how to get approval of manuscripts.

These practical measures will not only result in an economic gain in the form of less administrative costs, better flow of the paper work, and flexible administrative procedures, but will also cause a substantive liberalisation of the access to records/archives. Against this background the principal obstacles to archival access may be summarised as: a poor records management system; lack of professional archivists and other staff to handle the processing of records transferred to storage and in need of appraisal and disposal;

- lack of researcher/user facilities, such as reference service, reading rooms and personnel to guide users and bring them material for consultation; and,

- fragile or damaged archival material that cannot be given to researchers and other users without the risk of destruction.

Once these obstacles are overcome, rules governing the availability of records/archives will help the organisation's own staff, Member States, officers of other international organisations and persons outside the organisation in their work. The rules must take into account such reasons for restrictions as the sensitivity of diplomatic affairs involving Member States and organisations, requiring that records be closed for up to 30 years; economic, commercial and industrial negotiations and interests, needing closed periods varying from 10 to 20 years; and the respect of the privacy of individuals, with closure for up to 50 years; and the like.

6.6 Centralisation of the UN System Archives

The idea of a centralised archives for all agencies of the UN System has occasionally been pursued. In 1945, Dr Solon Buck proposed that the UN Secretariat Archives be the centre for all the archives of the international organisations. In 1961, two separate depositories were considered: one in New York, and the other in Geneva.

Prior to the XIIIth International Conference of the Round Table on Archives, held in 1971, a questionnaire was sent to a number of organisations. In part, it dealt with the pros and cons of a possible centralisation "of the archives of defunct international organisations and commissions, and that of the inactive archives of the specialised agencies of the UN". The responses proposed a variety of approaches, ranging from the position that "some centralisation would be desirable" to a total refusal to consider any degree of centralisation. France, for example, answered "that the archives of defunct organisations can find no better place than in national repositories". The report from this meeting stated that "The League of Nations believe it only natural that the historical archives of world organisations should be concentrated in Geneva, while suggesting the creation of a centre in Brussels, Luxembourg or Strasbourg, for purely European bodies; New York would be a good centre for the archives of the specialised agencies of the UN".

Questions, similar to those of today, were posed: who will cover the costs and take the responsibility for the functioning of such centre(s)? Where shall it be located? How does the world's division into two ideological blocks affect such an idea? What status should the centre(s) be accorded in order to inspire confidence by governmental and non-governmental agencies and researchers/users? Should this(these) world-wide repository(ies) be subordinated to the General Assembly of the United Nations, or put under the aegis of UNESCO?

Taking into consideration the need for access to records/archives of the international organisations, it is evident that the question of creating archives centres to which they can transfer their archives, when 50 to 100 years old, must be investigated.

Opinions can differ but one thing is certain - the benefits are many. Such a move would ensure maximum favourable conditions for storage of archives and make possible the elaboration of records management and archives administration especially designed for international organisations. The researchers/users' work would be made easier, too.

The concentration of archives would relieve the small organisations of many problems, bettering the conditions of their archives and facilitating access. Finally, standardisation in the preparation of finding aids and utilisation of automatic techniques to establish both administrative and intellectual control over the archives and their contents would become much easier.

Helen P Harrison


1.1 RAMP studies use the term "appraisal", but archivists in the field of recorded sound do not understand this particular term and tend to regard the process of selection as closely akin to that of appraisal. Is there indeed a difference or is it only one of semantics and usage in particular countries- For example, selection is more commonly used in Europe to describe the activity of decision making in retention and preservation policies, while in North America the word appraisal is used for initially determining the intrinsic and long term value and potential uses of records. Others use the terms inchangeably, and throughout this study "selection" and "appraisal" will be used in this way.

Appraisal in the intellectual decision making activity that precedes selection in common usage. Selection to reduce a collection to manageable proportions is, since the material has already been commissioned, more correctly, referred to as "reappraisal". In theory appraisal should precede, not follow accessioning, but this is seldom possible in audiovisual archives. Audiovisual archives usually deal with material which has been literally "collected" and not transferred to the archive in accordance with compehensive schedules or as a result of a records management programme. The audiovisual archivist is much more likely to be dealing with material which has already been accessioned, often in haphazard order, and the task becomes one of weeding these accessioned materials into a more manageable, or cohesive collection.

Appraisal has been defined as the process of determining the value and thus the disposition of records, based upon their current administrative, legal and fiscal use: their evidential and informational or research value; their arrangement and their relationship to other records. A secondary definition is the monetary evaluation of gifts of manuscripts. Selection may be defined as the practical and controlled application of appraisal principles to a body of material.

Appraisal may also be aimed at determining the intrinsic value of the material. Intrinsic value is the archival term that is applied to permanently valuable records that have qualities and characteristics that make the records in ther intrinsic form the only archivally acceptable form for preservation.

This is a very difficult decision to make in considering many audiovisual materials, especially sound recordings, because of technical reasons.

1.2 The nature of audiovisual materials and the attempts to build archives and collections of these materials are more likely to be based on "selection" of what is available rather than on appraisal of the long term value of the documentation of an institution, such as a business or a government agency. The sound archivist seldom has this amount of material to choose from, he deals in what has managed to survive until the point in time he considers collecting or preserving the material. This situation may change as a result of more adquate records management, but for the present it is very often a question of the archivist being presented with a collection of available material and then asked to make choices on the basis of his knowledge of the existing collection and the purposes of the repository.

Audiovisual records are, therefore, more closely related to the selection process than to the 'appraisal' process. Appraisal implies a more leisured activity whereby records or collections can be presented as a corporate entity to the archives which may take or reject at its final discretion. With audiovisual archives the 'collectors' are seldom so well organised or so fortunate. There is a lesser degree of records management involved or evident. Audiovisual items are collected, acquired or presented for possible retention in a more piecemeal fashion. This is especially the case with moving images, but will also frequently apply to sound recordings.

1.3 Everything at some time may have some value. This surely is the dilemma of the archivist. If the archivist takes this attitude from the beginning then he is simply turning himself into a storekeeper. Some archivists and even donors might advocate that everything should be kept, and if it were to cost nothing to acquire, preserve and store achive materials then perhaps this policy of saving everything could be adopted. But to keep everything is a form of madness: archivists, like people are forced to pick and choose, and audiovisual archivists must often choose from an incomplete record. Others would go to the other extreme like the New York State

Archives whose policy is "when in doubt, throw it out". What is surely required is something between the two, something which has called, "disciplined appraisal". Archivists should withdraw from a race to acquire the total record - an impossible task with regard to audiovisual materials, including sound recordings, photographs arid moving images, and they should concentrate instead of preserving materials selected in accordance with archival principles. Once again the principles of selection and appraisal are a necessity.

1.3.1 Selection is a necessity because of the volume of the material involved and the very nature of the material. Some sound archives have been in existence for nearly ninety years and the longer they exist the more necessary the process of selection becomes. Sound recordings were produced in the 1880's and 1890's, and the earliest sound archive was that established in Vienna in 1899. The fact that other archives were not established for a further 30 or 40 years has had a major effect on the collection of sound recordings and the necessity for and criteria of selection. Many of the early recordings did not survive long enough to be available to the archives.

Selection has been made even more imperative as a result of the increased ease of recording. With improvements in equipment and ease of handling such equipment to produce acceptable recordings, more and more people are recording material which can be regarded as one of archival value.

1.3.2 Audiovisual materials are regarded as more difficult to preserve than paper documents. There is a cost involved, but there is a greater problem involved in locating information within the plethora of information available. Audiovisuals are very slow to work with, at both the input and at the output stage, they have to be listened to or viewed in real time. Unreasonable amounts of time needed in research due to large or confusing or mismanaged collections will often lead to the researcher giving up or looking for alternative sources. Therefore, to try to keep everything can be argued to be as self defeating as to keep nothing.

1.3.3. The volume of output makes selection inevitable. In addition to the commercial production of the recording industry there is a large non-commercial output and the output of oral historians and broadcasting. Where far more material is recorded than is transmitted, the unedited, untransmitted material may be potentially valuable for later usage. Specialised subject collections may also contain recorded material or the archivist may have conducted interviews which have been edited for public access purposes, but the unedited material has its own value. We might also consider one area often overlooked, which is selection at the point of origin. This is the situation in which the sound archivist who initiates a recording needs to reflect on why he has to record this material, at what length he should be doing so, and whether or not he should edit the recording and then dispose of the material which is superfluous to the recording he intended or his present requirements.

1.3.4 Selection has been made even more imperative as a result of the increased ease of recording. As tape recording has become easier and the equipment less cumbersome, more and more recording is made possible by a greater variety of people. No longer is it the sole province of a technician to record material for preservation purposes. With improvements in equipment and ease of handling such equipment to produce acceptable recordings, more and more people are recording material which can be regarded as a useful record.

1.4 Post accessioning selection may also be used to reduce an archive or collection to manageable proportions. Unless selection principles are used we are in danger of sinking in a tangle of magnetic tape, under a sea of books, cassettes, videodiscs or computer software.

Worse, we might disappear altogether into the computer hardware in seach of that elusive piece of data which was not properly labelled.

And herein lies another powerful argument for selection. If we do not select with reasonable care then what is the point of spending resources of time and money documenting, storing and preserving material which is not of archival value?

Indeed it can be argued that it is a dereliction of our duty as information providers, whether archivists, librarians or information scientists, not to select the material for preservation and future use. Too much information can be as difficult to handle as too little; it is equally difficult to access and discover the material which would be most useful. The idea that, with the aid of modern technology you can store everything easily on convenient little cassettes appeals to the research worker, but how is he going to access a roomful (and it has been expressed in that very term) of audio or videocassettes when each cassette bears from 3 to 6 hours of material; not necessarily in edited form. The research worker too frequently forgets that someone has to expend effort and time entering the information into the database in a retrievable or accessible order.

1.5 The criteria for selection of sound recordings have not been, and indeed cannot be, laid down as hard-and-fast rules, but it is hoped that those who consult this study will find many practical examples and working principles in the pages which follow. Examples of criteria used in different types of archives are included: these should assist sound archivists in arriving at reasoned, practical criteria for selecting material to store in archives for passing on to future generations.


8.1 Appraisal is necessary for the determination of the long term value of the sound recording. Although sound recordings are relatively new as archival materials, the value of sound recordings when collected either separately or in conjunction with printed and other audiovisual documents is being increasingly recognised. Controlled or disciplined appraisal will make possible selection between and within individual collections.

8.2 Selection using appraisal techniques and based upon established criteria and guidelines is essential because of the volume of material both to reduce collections to manageable proportions and to prevent a waste of financial and human resources in retaining, documenting, preserving and restoring material which has no long term value.

The international body of archives devoted to sound recordings, IASA (International Association of Sound Archives) has issued a publication on the selection of materials for sound archives, but has not drawn up guidelines for appraisal and selection. The following considerations offer a basis upon which more specific guidelines may be developed.

8.2.1 Total conservation is impossible for sound recordings because of the volume of material and resources required for this restoration and conservation. Additional factors which make total conservation unattainable include the technical problems of deterioration in existing recordings and the non-survival of many early recordings. Most early recordings were made for the commercial market or for experimental reasons rather than for archival retention. Once the initial market was satisfied no consideration was given to retaining the recordings, especially as very few archives came into existence until many of the early recordings had deteriorated beyond recall.

8.3 Archival acquisitions should be actively chosen and not passively accepted. Passive acceptance implies that the archive is a repository for all materials, not a cohesive collection of material relevant to the function and purpose of the archive involved.

8.4 Selection principles are needed in the area of sound archives and sound archivists should define and agree upon these principles as a matter of priority. Now that a variety of sound archives have been established there is a need to encourage greater co-operative collection on several levels, regional, national and international, in order to rationalise the collection of sound recordings. This will have consequences for the collection policies of individual archives and, if fully carried out, should lead to specialised collection by archives. The results should be more effective use of available financial resources for preservation, and the use of such funds in a more systematic manner for restoration over a wider area of subject and material by concentrating resources in specific archives for special areas of sound recordings and by preventing duplication of effort and restoration.

8.5 Sound archives should be preserving sound recordings which are specifically relevant to the medium itself. Some events, happenings or recordings are better recorded and displayed in sound material than on film or television or in the printed document. Such recordings need to be given high priority by all types of sound archives.

8.6 As a general principle sound archives have an obligation to ensure preservation of the recording by selecting the best quality copy available. However, technical developments have not yet reached the stage at which it can be said that a sound recording can be preserved indefinitely. This has implications for preservation of records for their intrinsic value, that is the original recording, and will influence storage, restoration and preservation policies.

Nevertheless an archive has an obligation to retain original recordings against the day when technology improves.

8.7 Appraisal is one of the most important and challenging tasks for an archivist. Appraisal should be carried out according to a well defined selection policy. Some such policies exist but few have been published outside the institutions for which they were devised.

A greater exchange of ideas and information, as well as discussion of existing policies is necessary leading to a greater number of published policies and to increased co-operation among archives to achieve an international network of collecting institutions and to improve the general exchange of information, collection and preservation of sound recordings.

It is obvious that rigid formulae are not going to suffice in this situation. Archival appraisal will undergo change according to the needs of the times, the purposes of the archive concerned, and the nature of the materials stored within the archives. But some common agreement has already been achieved, and the following guidelines for the selection and appraisal of sound recordings are offered for consideration and adaptation to the particular circumstances of the many different types of sound archives which exist.

8.8 The archive should select material according to the needs, purposes and intentions of the repository and with the ultimate "user" in mind. Subject areas of interest may be narrow, but the related or "grey" areas should not be overlooked in selection.

8.9 Material for archival preservation should be either unique to a collection or not duplicated in several existing collections when there may be a waste of resources in preserving the same thing.

Leval deposit is a rarity and one archive cannot assume that any other is collecting in a particular area or country of origin. In these circumstances it becomes important for all sound archives to have an acquisitions policy and appraisal criteria and to discuss these with other archives, both nationally and internationally, to ensure that valuable material is kept somewhere, but not in each archive.

8.10 The principle of selection according to the quality of the recording is a relative one and is closely related to the unique quality of the material. In theory the best quality material should be selected, but when the only available material is of poor quality its unique nature overrides the principle of quality. A closely related factor is that of technological change which may mean a recording is only available on an obsolete carrier. Archives should not select on the basis of whether or not they can replay material this is library selection, when the only material in a library relates closely to the playback machinery available either in the library or in the user's home. An archive must consider other qualities of the material and if it is essential to the collection, but on an unplayable medium, an archive should transfer it to a usable medium.

Technical appraisal, that is the selection of material on the basis of quality and whether or not to keep all the old material against the day when the technology improves to the extent that better preservation recordings can be produced is a basic consideration. The potential technical improvement of recordings has implications for appraisal, including intrinsic value.

8.11 Some material may be "unusable" because of copyright or contractual restrictions. However, copyright can lapse and one of the functions of an archive could be expressed as outliving copyright and other such restrictions. The material is held for the restricted period (it may be possible to use it under certain conditions during such a period) and when copyright expires the archive will be able to grant access. Copyright restrictions should not necessarily deter selection of valuable items and the appraiser must think beyond the temporary restrictions.

8.12 Selection at the point of origin is a neglected area. The sound archivist who initiates a recording needs to consider why and how the material is being recorded and whether or not to edit the recording and what should be its ultimate disposition. Related to this consideration is the concept of pre-archival control, that is controlling the record and documentation of the record before the material enters the archive. This can be achieved by influencing record companies to label material fully and by requiring full documentation to be presented as well as a technical record of the processes involved in recording the material which is deposited. It should also be required that the recording meet a minimum technical standard.

8.13 The timing of selection is also an important consideration. Some material needs to be kept for only short periods while checks are made on existing material which it may duplicate. Other material should be looked at retrospectively after a period or periods of time. Most archives which practice selection will be found to use this policy of periodic reappraisal.

Hindsight is a useful mechanism and it can be achieved by adopting a long-term retention policy. Optimum selection decisions are best taken after a "decent" interval.

The concepts of reappraisal and deaccessioning should be incorporated into the repository's policies and practices. An archive will collect material in accordance with its purpose and objectives, but as these may change at intervals the selection principles will have to be flexible to accommodate these changes.

Selection principles themselves should, therefore, be subject to periodic review and re-evaluation.

8.14 One of the main principles of selection is objectivity. Selection staff should be as objective and free from bias as possible, within realistic parameters. A collector may be subjective in his approach, but an archivist should be seen to be objective and a set of principles is needed here to provide a framework for collection.

8.15 Selection out of the collection can have many end results. It may mean the destruction of the original record and retention of the original. It may mean the transfer of the material to another archive which has a more appropriate collection to house and manage the material involved, e.g. transfer of material dealing with war and conflict from a national archive or broadcast company to a war museum or of ethnographic material into a specialist collection or archive.

( as of 3 May 1990)

The titles of the IAN, Studies presented and SUMMARIZED in this leader appear in bold types.

Legal questions of the application of microfilms.

Jeno BACSO, Ivan BORSA and Gyorgy SCHELNITZ. Paris, 1975.

COM-75/WS/30. [English]

Archival claims. Preliminary study on the principles and criteria to be applied in negociations.

Charles KECSKEMETI. Paris, 1977. PGI-77/WS/1. [English, French]

Conservation and restoration of archives : a survey of facilities. Yash Pal KATHPALIA. Paris, 1978. PGI-78/WS/14. [English]

Guide to the archives of international organizations. Part. 1 : the United Nations system. Preliminary version. Paris, 1979. PGI-79/WS/7. [English]

Model bilateral and multilateral agreements and conventions concerning the transfer of archives.

Charles KECSKEMETI et Evert van LAAR. Paris, 1981. PGI-81/WS/3. [Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish]

A Survey of archives and manuscripts relating to Sri Lanka and located in mayor London repositories.

G.P.S. Haris de SILVA: Paris, 1981. PGI-81/WS/4. [English]

Feasibility study on the creation of an internationally financed and managed microfilming assistance fund to facilitate the solution of problems involved in the international transfer of archives and in obtaining access to sources of national history located in foreign archives.

Ivan BORSA. Paris, 1981. PGI-81/WS/7. [Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish]

Archives Journals : A study of their coverage by primary and secondary sources. RAMP studies and Guidelines.

Brenda WHITE. Paris, 1981. PGI-81/WS/10. [English, French]

Feasibility study of a data base on national historical sources in foreign repositories.

Jean PIEYNS. Paris, 1981. PGI-81/WS/24. [English, French]

The admissibility of microforms as evidence : a RAMP Study.

Georges WEILL. Paris, 1981. PGI-81/WS/25. [English, French, Spanish]

The use of sampling techniques in the retention of records : a RAMP study with guidelines.

Felix HULL. Paris, 1981. PGI-81/WS/26. [English, French, Spanish]

The applicability of UNISIST guidelines and ISO international standards to archives administration and records management : a RAMP study.

James B. RHOADS. Paris, 1982. PGI-82/WS/4. [English, French, Spanish]

Directory of audio-visual materials for use in records management and archives administration training.

Brenda WHITE. Paris, 1982. PGI-82/WS/8. [English]

Guide to records relating to science and technology in the National

Archives of India : a RAMP study.

S.A.I. TIRMIZI. Paris, 1982. PGI-82/WS/12. [English]

Guidelines for curriculum development in records management and the administration of modern archives : a RAMP study.

Michael COOK. Paris, 1982. PGI-82/WS/16. [English, French, Spanish]

Final report of the Second Expert Consultation on RAMP (RAMP II). Berlin (West), 9-11 June 1982.

Paris, 1982. PGI-82/WS/24. [English, French, Spanish]

Writings on Archives published by and with the assistance of

UNESCO : a RAMP study.

Frank B. EVANS. Paris, 1983. PGI-83/WS/5. [English]

A guide for surveying archival and records management systems and services : a RAMP study.

Frank B. EVANS et Eric KETELAAR. Paris, 1983. PGI-83/WS/6. [English, French, Spanish

Guidelines for the preparation of general guides to National Archives : a RAMP study.

Françoise HILDESHEIMER. Paris, 1983. PGI-83/WS/9. [English, French, Spanish]

The archival appraisal of moving images : a RAMP study with guidelines.

Sam KULA. Paris, 1983. PCI-83/WS/18. [English, French, Spanish]

A survey of archives relating to India and located in mayor repositories in France and Great Britain.

P.S.M. MOIDEEN. Paris, 1983. PGI-83/WS/19. [English]

Obstacles to the access, use and transfer of information from archives a RAMP study.

Michael DUCHEIN. Paris, 1983. PGI-83/WS/20. [English, French, Spanish]

The role of archives and records management in national information systems.

James B. RHOADS. Paris, 1983. PGI-83/WS/21. [English, French, Spanish]

Development of records management and archives services within United Nations agencies : a RAMP study.

Marie Charlotte STARK. Paris,1983. PGI-83/WS/26. [English, French]

The preservation and restoration of photographic materials in archives and libraries.

Klaus B. HENDRIKS. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/1. [English, French, Spanish]

A model curriculum for the training of specialists in document preservation and restoration.

Yash Pal KATHPALIA. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/2. [English, French, Spanish]

Archival services and the concept of the user.

Hugh A. TAYLOR. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/5. [English, French, Spanish]

The preservation and administration of private archives.

Rosemary E. SETON. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/6. [English, French, Spanish]

Scientific and technological information in transactional files in government records and archives.

K.D.G. WIMALARATNE. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/7. [English, French, Spanish]

Planning, equipping and staffing a document reprographic service.

James A. KEENE and Michael ROPER. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/8. [English]

Guide to the records relating to science and technology in the British Public Record Office.

Michael JUBB. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/9. [English]

The preservation and restoration of paper records and books.

Carmen CRESPO et Vicenta VINAS. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/25. [Arabic, English, French, Russian, original in Spanish]

Records surveys and schedules.

Derek CHAPMAN. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/26. [English, French, Spanish]

The archival appraisal of machine-readable records.

Harold NAUGLER. Paris, 1984. PGI-84/WS/27. "English, French, Spanish]

The status of archivists in relation to other information professionals in the public service in Africa.

Jacques D'ORLEANS. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/2. [English, French]

The status of archives and records management systems and services in African Member States.

Evert VAN LAAR. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/3. [English, French]

Archival appraisal of records of international organizations.

Marilla B. GUPTIL. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/4. [English, French]

Archival and records management legislation and regulations.

Eric KETELAAR. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/9. [English, French, Spanish]

The archival appraisal of photographs.

William H. LEARY. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/10. [English, French, Spanish]

The status of archivists in relation to other information professionals in the public service in Latin America.

Aurelio TANODI. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/13. [English, French, original in Spanish]

Guide to the Archives of international organizations. Part II : archives of international organizations and their former officials in the custody of national and other archival and manuscript repositories.

Peter WALNE. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/18. [English]

Guide to the Archives of international organizations. Part III : archives of other international intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Alfred W. MARES. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/19. [English, French]

A model curriculum for the education and training of archivists in automation.

Meyer FISHBEIN. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/27. [English]

Modern archives administration and records management : a RAMP reader.

Peter WALNE and Alfred W. MA8BS. Paris, 1985. PGI-85/WS/32. [English, French, Spanish]

Archives, oral history and oral tradition.

WiLliam W. MOSS and Peter C. MAZIKANA. Paris, 1986. PGI-86/WS/2. [English, French, Spanish]

Electronic records management and archives in international organizations.

Charles DOLLAR. Paris, 1986. PGI-86/WS/12. [English]

The processing of architects' records : a case study : France. Franc,oise HILDESHEIMER. Paris, 1986. PGI-86/WS/13. [English, French, Spanish]

An introduction to archival automation.

Michael COOK. Paris, 1986. PCI-86/WS/15 REV. "English"

Directory of national standards relating to archives administration and records management.

Michael ROPER. Paris ? 1986. PGI-86/WS/16. [English]

Archives and education.

Eckhart G. FRANZ. Paris, 1986. PGI-86/WS/18. [English]

Survey on national standards on paper and ink to be used by the administration for records creation.

David L. THOMAS. Paris, 1986. PGI-86/WS/22. [Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish]

Study on control of security and storage of holdings.

David L. THOMAS. Paris, 1986. PGI-86/WS/23. [English, French, Spanish]

Access to the archives of United Nations agencies.

Bodil ULATE SEGURA. Paris, 1986. PGI-86/WS/24. [English, French]

Guidelines on curriculum development in information technology for librarians, documentalist and archivists.

Michael COOK. Paris, 1986. PGI-86/WS/26. [English, French, Spanish]

The archival appraisal of sound recordings and related materials.

Helen P. HARRISON with R.L. SCHUURMA. Paris, 1987. PGI-87/WS/1. [English]

Conservacion y restauracion de mapas y pianos, y sus reproducciones. Andres SERRANO RIVAS y Pedro BARBACHANO S. MILLAN. Paris, 1987.

PGI-87/WS/6. [Spanish]

Vacuum freeze-drying, a method used to salvage water-damaged archival and library materials.

John M. McCLEARY. Paris, 1987. PGI-87/WS/7. [English, French, Russian, Spanish]

Third Expert Consultation on RAMP (RAMP III). Helsinki, Finland, 13, 15 and 20 September 1986. Final Report.

Paris, 1987. PGI-87/WS/13. [English]

Enquête internationale sur les documents informatiques dans les archives des pays en developpement.

Comité de l'Informatique du CIA. Paris, 1987. PGI-87/WS/14. [French]

Preservation and conservation of library documents : a UNESCO/IFLA/ICA enquiry into the current state of the world's patrimony.

David W. G. CLEMENTS. Paris, 1987. PGI-87/WS/15. [English]

Les moyens de conservation les plus économiques dans les bâtiments d' archives des pays industrials et tropicaux.

Gerard BENOIT et Daniele NEIRINGK. Paris, 1987. PGI-87/WS/18. [Arabic, French, Russian]

International reader in the management of library, information and archives services.

Anthony VAUGHAN. Paris, 1987. PGI-87/WS/22. [English]

Disaster planning, preparedness and recovery for libraries and archives.

Sally A. BUCHANAN. Bibliography by Toby Murray. Paris, 1988. PGI-88/WS/6. [Arabic, English, Russian]

Prevention and treatment of mold in library collections with an emphasis on tropical climates.

Mary WOOD LEE. Paris, 1988. PGI-88/WS/9. [Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish]

Guidelines for writing learning objectives in librianship information science and archives administration.

France FONTAINE and Paulette BERNHARD. Paris, 1988. PGI-88/WS/10. [English, French]

Les conséquences Juridiques de la production des documents informatiques par les administrations publiques.

Birgit FREDBERG and Paulette PIEYNS-RIGO. Paris, 1988. PGI-88/WS/15. [English, French, Spanish]

Methods of evaluation to determine the preservation needs in libraries and archives.

George M. CUNHA. Paris, 1988. PCI-88/WS/16. [Arabic, English, Russian, [Spanish]

Las tecnicas tradicionales de restauracion.

V. VINAS y R. VINAS. Paris, 1988. PGI-88/WS/17. [Arabic, English, Russian, Spanish]

Impact of environmental pollution on the preservation of archives and records.

M. W. PASCOE. Paris, 1988. PGI-88/WS/18. [English]

Study on integrated pest management for libraries and archives.

Thomas A. PARKER. Paris, 1988. PGI-88/WS/20. [English, Spanish]

Planning, equipping. and staffing an archival preservation and conservation service : a RAMP study with guidelines.

Michael ROPER. Paris, 1989. PGI-89/WS/4. [English]

The role of archives and records management in national information systems. Revised edition.

James B. RHOADS. Paris, 1989. PGI-89/WS/6. [English]

Guidelines for the management of professional associations in the fields of archives, library and information work.

Russell BOWDEN. Paris, 1989. PGI-89/WS/11. [English]

Study on mass conservation techniques for treatment of library and archives material.

Prepared by the Regional Centre of the IFLA Core Programme FAC, Deutsche Bücherei Leipzig. Edited by Wolfgang Wächter under the supervision of Helmut Rötzsche. Paris, 1989. PGI-89/WS/14. [English]

Review of training needs in preservation and conservation.

D.W.G. CLEMENTS, J.H. McILWAINE, A.C. THURSTON and S.A. RUDD. Paris, 1989. PGI-89/WS/15. [English]