Records Preservation and Conservation -4


         If a source of information, such as a book or a paper document, cannot be maintained in its original format, conversion to another medium is considered an option. Microform technology is an alternative format that preserves information and the intellectual content of materials. Micro-forms are considered to be one of the most stable preservation mediums for long-term access to information and materials that are not intrinsically tied to their original form. These types of materials most often consist of serials or periodicals, newspapers, and books that are valued for research and scholarship.

        Microforms include microfilm, microfiche, and microprint, which are composed of microimages that are magnified through a lens provided in a microform reader. Due to the size of the images on microforms, a large amount of information can be preserved on microforms, which require a limited amount of storage space. Microfilm used for preservation is composed of a photosensitive emulsion made of silver halides. Microfilm made with silver halide and kept in stable, environmentally controlled storage can last for several hundred years. The proper temperature for the storage of microforms is 65° Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of 35 percent (plus or minus 5 percent). Preservation of microforms also includes the creation of several copies. Silver halide 35-mm microfilm, usually the master copy or first generation of microfilm created, is considered the archival or permanent copy. A printing copy of microfilm is also produced and this copy is used to provide additional service copies that can be distributed for use and access to the information it contains. Service copies of microfilm are made of diazo or vesicular microfilm, which allows the materials to be used at a greater rate, while the master copy is preserved under proper environmental conditions. Microfilm is also considered a relatively inexpensive preservation option.


          Almost every format and medium mentioned above, from books, sound recordings, videos, and microfilm, can be digitized. Digitization is recognized as a viable option for access to information and for the conversion of information into new formats. Transferring information from its original format to a binary code allows for greater manipulation of materials and the information they contain. Digitization provides greater access to information than any other type of format.

         Reformatting and converting materials to a digital format assists in providing access to materials that are fragile, deteriorating, and still valuable based on the information or intellectual content they contain. Digitization provides a high-quality facsimile or surrogate of an original object or artifact. Transferring information to digital formats can assist in preservation because the original item, which is retained, is protected from additional handling that will further damage it. Digitization, however, does not constitute a long-term preservation method of information that is not preserved in its original form and it does not guarantee long-term access and authenticity of the information. It does not replace microfilming or other methods of preservation that can ensure long-term access and preservation. Digitization is preferred for improved access to materials rather than as a replacement of an original object or format that is best preserved in its original form.

          Digital media, like magnetic media, requires machinery and software to read the binary code and present it to a user. Hardware and software components and human assistance is necessary to access digital information. Digital information must be migrated from outdated storage formats and software formats to current technology in order to ensure access to information considered to have long-term value.

Preventive conservation,

          Preventive conservation is the creation of an environment in which the factors detrimental to the archival materials cannot exist. The control of proper environment, shelving and handling practices etc. are the basic requirements that are needed as preventive conservation measures of archival materials.

         As per the Public Record,  the record of various Ministries/Departments etc of Government of India and, the permanent records are shifted to National Archives of India after a period of 25 years. The documents are cleaned using an Air compressor attached to an Air cleaning Unit to remove the dust. Thereafter, the fumigation of the records is carried out with the help of a vacuum fumigation chamber using carbon-di-oxide to get rid of any insects that might be present in the records. The documents are shifted to the Repositories after undertaking these two processes. Fumigation of the records is also carried out using portable fumigation chambers with the help of chemicals such as Thymol and Para di chloro benzene etc. The Preservation Division of National Archives of India thus ensures the removal of dust and pests as a preliminary step before the records are shifted to the Stack areas.


           Preservation assists in keeping information accessible and useful over time. Conservation treatments help to ensure the longevity of objects that have value for their content, so information can be learned from them as artifacts. Preservation and conservation efforts assist in research and scholarly activity but also affect daily life. Access to architectural records provides safety information for building and construction details that may prove useful during a natural disaster. State or municipal records that outline information on the storage of waste can ensure that housing developments are not placed in areas that once held waste materials. Photographs, maps, and other visual documents can help with the revitalization of neighborhoods and business districts. The records of organizations may help them plan community programs for the future.

          The existence of information in its myriad forms, maintained or preserved over time, has benefits for all generations. It continues to provide the foundation for development of new information, knowledge, and skills. Societies and groups of people throughout history have sought to document their experience. It is from recorded information that we have learned about past cultures and peoples, how they lived, what they thought, what they placed value on, be it ideas or objects, and even what may have led to their demise. Information stored on paper, in books, through still and moving images, on sound recordings and electronic media, and in works of art, in original or surrogate form, help to define our culture and society, drives economic and political decisions, and should remain essential to our global heritage and cultures. Libraries, archives, local and state historical societies, conservation labs, museums, and related institutions serve as the custodians of these resources and as such make the effort to preserve information for generations to come.


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