9.1. The responsibilities of the archivists
Records and archives are an essential and integral ingredient of the decision making process. The manner in which the creation. processing. storage, retrieval and usage of the records and archives is controlled and organised determines the extent to which the records and archives will be useful to the decision making process. To a very large extent. at the present moment records and archives are only partially being used by decision makers and the reasons for this are to be found both in the way in which the records and archives are being managed as well as in the way in which decision makers are able to use the records and archives for decision making.
Essentially the basic problem is that archival institutions have a narrow interpretation of their role and responsibility. Shackled by a historical tradition that sees archival work as a scholarly, historical and cultural occupation, it has been difficult to appreciate the changing environment in which they nave to operate and to identify and satisfy the needs of a critical section of interests that they should be servicing. A general conservatism has also meant that the archival institutions have not been able to take advantage of changing technologies leaving them in an untenable situation in which the organisations that they service, and to whose activities they owe their own existence, have so changed their composition and requirements that the archival service is totally inadequate and inappropriate.
On the part of the archival institutions, the need is for the examination and appraisal of the role being played. the identification of the needs of the records creating agencies. and the realignment of priorities and programmes to meet the needs of the organisations being serviced. Such a change requires that some of the traditional-methods and concepts of archival work be abandoned. that some be revamped to bring them into consonance with the realities of the present, and that new approaches be adopted both to improve the management of archival institutions and to provide a relevant service. This does not require the abandonment of the tried and tested principles of records management and archives administration. It only calls for profound adjustments to meet the needs of today.
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