3.4. Adverse consequences of not using records and archives
At times if it difficult to demonstrate the positive value of a product or service, then it may be possible to drive home the message by demonstrating the disastrous consequences of the failure to use that product or service. When the respondents to the first questionnaire were asked to give examples of instances when there had been disasters which could have been prevented or avoided if records and archives had been used, 36 of the respondents were unable to answer the question in any way. Six were bold enough to declare that no disaster had occurred and yet the truth lies with those who were able to give examples and with the seven institutions which said that they had no information or were not aware of any. The latter is especially important because it is only if archivists can imperially demonstrate the adverse consequences of not using archives that they can begin to make the resource allocation breakthrough that they need.
An examination of seven respondents who gave examples of disasters provides some interesting information.
3.4.1. In Ireland, about 20 years ago some records of title relating to state property were destroyed necessitating the employment of staff to recreate the records of title.
3.4.2. In Zanzibar new research was undertaken on cloves diseases and studies done on the rehabilitation of the ports when these had already been partially done and the information was available in the archives.
3.4.3. In Indonesia floods that occur in new real estates in cities such as Jakarta could have been avoided if past records of city planning and development which are in the National Archives had been consulted.
3.4.4. In the Marshall Islands a fire burned down the government administration building destroying many valuable documents which could not be replaced.
3.4.5. In the Far East the territorial crisis between
3.4.6. In Malaysia the Kuala Lumpur - Seremban Highway was constructed in the 1970's without taking into account the geological unsuitability of the terrain. Major repairs have become frequent and problematic and yet this could have been avoided if geological monographs and other records in the National Archives had been consulted.
3.4.7. In Poland the disastrous effects of the severe inundation of the basin of Oder River in 1984 could have been avoided or minimised if old documentation of anti-flood installations which was available in the National Archives had been used.
The overall picture therefore is that while archivists know that records and archives are used by decision makers they generally do not know for what purposes they are used. They know that the records are requested and they then come to the conclusion which one of the colleagues succinctly put across as follows:- since "the National Archives is the only official repository for the official records of the government of .....; therefore, the records are used by decision makers".
If however we cannot determine with precision the records and archives that the decision makers are using perhaps we can obtain this information from the decision makers themselves.
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