6.1. The planning process
Archival institutions like any other institution must utilise the planning process. They need to formulate clear and concise plans covering the long term, medium term and short term period. Having formulated these plans they must introduce controls for monitoring and evaluating progress and for making the necessary adjustments. The plans of archival institutions should cover the main areas of acquisition, processing storage. preservation and provision of reference services.
Many archival institutions do not have any planning processes at all and they are doing no more than survive from day to day. The planning process requires that the objectives of the plan be clearly stated, that the methodology to be used be stated, that expected results or outputs be tabulated and quantified The resources necessary for the achievement of the plan should also be stated.
It has been emphasized over and over again that the process of acquisition should not start at the point that the record creating agencies telephone to say that they wish to deposit some records or at the point that a truck arrives with a load of records. The involvement of the archivist should extend to the beginnings of the generation of those records. Whether the archivist becomes involved in the actual management of current records or not he should nevertheless have some form of control or supervision over this process. The plan therefore should include a quantification of the anticipated records output and as a corollary the quantity of records expected to be deposited in the records institution. Such a quantification necessitates studying the organisational structures of the ministries and departments and forecasting increases or decreases in records generation capacities over given periods of time. This is obviously an involved exercise but unless this is done how could one ever plan and make provision for instance for sufficient Records Centre or Archives storage facilities as well as the manpower and infrastructural requirements. The assessment of the records generating capacities requires assessing the staffing positions in the ministries and departments, assessing the rate of usage of such commodities as paper, pens. registers, carbons, magnetic tapes and disks. Such figures are readily available in departments and all that is required is their collection and collation.
The importance of establishing this position cannot be over emphasised In a commercial situation, one cannot plan a production plant without investigating the market. To assume that the demand is there without any precise investigation can have disastrous consequences resulting for instance in the purchase and installation of a plant whose production capacity is so large that in one week it produces sufficient to cover a year' s consumption. Similarly with archival institutions requests for the allocation of more buildings and facilities should only be made against very precise forecasts of the needs. At the moment very few archival institutions have made this quantification and this explains why they are often unable to win their arguments for an allocation of larger resources. The result should be a quantification of the annual record output, of changing output patterns of expected output over a given medium or long term period. This will be measured and compared with existing facilities and the need to increase such facilities to cope with the record output.
The second step in the planning process is the quantification of the records handling practices in the ministries and departments. Such an analysis is necessary as a way of examining how records are being received and processed, how they are being used and stored, how they are being retired from active to semi-active use. By carrying out such an analysis it is possible to identify those areas where there are major records handling weaknesses, linking some of these to the efficiency of the administrative machinery and identifying the consequences in relation to the records that eventually become the archives Those who allocate budgetary resources often do not understand the need to improve the archives services During budget submission meetings, there is the example of an archivist who in failing to convince the Ministry of Finance officials decided on a new strategy for the following year. He took a photographer with him, visited various provincial centres, photographed records storerooms in absolute chaos, obtained photographs of records decimated by water, insects and rats, documented cases of records lost or unlocated and came back and made a slide presentation to the Finance officials who promptly saw and accepted the magnitude of the problem and allocated him the resources to open and provide archival services at provincial levels. This case is not unusual but illustrates very clearly the absolute necessity of systematic planning which in turn requires in-depth research and gathering of the relevant facts. For archival institutions therefore the point being made here is that to plan and to present convincing cases there is no substitute to a thorough diagnosis of the record creating patterns and systems of the records creating agencies. No educationist can formulate medium and long term plans without studying the population trends. the geographical spread and concentrations of the populations and thus assessing the educational need in the medium and long term. How many archival institutions have however carried out the research? How many of them have in their possession the organisation charts and structures of the records creating agencies? How many know the number of clerks employed in their records creating agencies? How many know the number of private secretaries in existence and how many even know with precision the categories of records being produced, or the quantities? In the end it is a question of bidding for a farce allocation of resources, of being denied such resources and feeling dejected and unrecognised. This is however not because archival services merit low or medium priority but because archival institutions have not been able to demonstrate why they should be given top priority.
Once the records creating patterns and forecasts have been made an examination of the Records Centre and archives facilities should then be made to establish in the first instance the position at that time and then to make comparisons over a given period of time. Annual reports of archival institutions are scattered with figures of quantities of archives accessioned, number of researchers consulting archival materials, number of archives consulted, visitors coming to the galleries and exhibitions, telephone and written inequities received and actioned and so forth. Quite often comparisons are made with the previous year but it is rare that such comparisons are made over a longer period to assess the situation over the last five or ten years or to postulate the likely trends over the next five or ten years. The existing infrastructure must then be linked and related to the record generating units by the way of establishing the adequacy or inadequacy of the existing archival resources and infrastructures and to show the resource needs in the medium and long term.
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