The Importance of Undertaking a Conservation Assessment Before Introducing a Reprography Programme in an Organisation


Etiwel Mutero
Reprography is essential to records management as far as preservation of information is concerned. in this paper, the author is going to critically analyse the reasons why it is important to undertake a conservation assessment before introducing a reprography programme in an organisation.
Reprography means, simply to reproduce so as to preserve the original storage media, be it a paper, electronic or microform based storage media. Methods of production or reprography includes, microfilming, photocopying, photographic reproduction and digitisation. A conservation assessment evaluates the physical state and security of all the holdings in the institution and also staff to determine the best course of action. The results of the assessment must be considered carefully and structured into a project plan.
The conservation assessment s..ll to analyse general and specific collection, care needs are determined priorities established and resources for implementation  are determined. The main purpose of the conservation assessment is to outline a path or define a course of action that will allow you to set present and future preservation agenda. It identifies the actions an institution will take so that resources can be allocated appropriately. 
Cook (1991:111) says;
“Once a conservation assessment has been conducted, decisions can be made about the purpose and scope of a reprography programme. Ta this point, a cost benefit analysis and needs assessment should be conducted. Microfilming and other forms of copying can be very expensive ……”
The conservation assessment sets the priorities an organisation in relation to reprography. Therefore as the assessment is carried out, materials that meet the organisation priorities is chosen for reprography. The conservation assessment is used as a selection process of materials for reproduction purposes.
When the material for reproduction is identified qualities determined, the results are then used to find out, how expensive the reprography exercise is going to cost, the number of personnel needed for the reprographic exercise. At the same time the cost-benefit analysis and needs analysis is also considered.
The conservation assessment goes deeper into analysing the building which houses the records, it analyses the storage conditions and the materials. Bajpai (1999:201) argues that “The general condition of the building as a whole iss the starting point the concern is not so much to discover serious structural or material defects, but rather assess the general suitability of the building for its purpose. The materials that are used: wood, brick and stone, for example will affect weather proofing and heat insulation. A flat roof can lead to difficulties with water seepage in Leary rain. Unfitting doors and windows can admit both water and animal life.” If the storage building is not fit, even if reprographic measures are taken, the reproduced records will quickly  deteriorate .
The environment conditions of the storage areas are also considered in the conservation assessment. It is necessary to know the humidity and temperatures of all storage areas. The building is heated, cooled and ventilated, how the systems are actually used, and how effective they are. The overall cleanliness, maintenance, storage and exhibition furniture, pest monitoring, access and retrieval practises should also be part into account. Failure to look into issues of environment even reproduced materials will also deteriorate fast due to poor environmental conditions of the storage areas.
The conservation assessment is also used to set goals and standards for reprography. Very serious problems revolve around standards. One should not underestimate the problems of creating standards targets. Standard help us choose the right storage media, the type  of paper, the type of microfilm., or types of electronic media to us, if there  are national and international standards such as those published by the International council on a archives, they  ought to be adhered to.
The conservation assessment helps us choose the appropriate reprography solution. The natural the degree of damage on a record helps a Record Manager or the Archivist to apply the necessary preservations, conservative and reprographic measures.
Roper (1999-57
“As preservation evaluation questionnaires indicates, there are a wide variety of possible actions that can be taken to preserve records and archives. Some actions require minimal effort and some expensive such as replacement through purchase or photocopying. Other actions demand considerable resources, such as extensive treatment of originals or microfilming”
Reprography is so important in the whole operation of records program and therefore a conservation assessment is necessary before establishing a reprography programme in an organisation.

References
Bajpai, (1999). Preservation and Management of Library Collections, Essr Publications, New Delhi
Miller, (1999), Preserving Records, IRMT,UK
Miller, (1999) , Emergency Planning for Records and Archives Services, IRMT, UK
SOUR (1992) , Managing and Preservation of periodical and Newspapers.
Mahapatra, (1999), preservation in Libraries Perspectives Principles and Practice, New Delhi, Ess Publication 

Etiwel Mutero holds a Bsc Honours Degree in Records and Archives Management from the Zimbabwe Open University.Do you want assistance in writing your college or university assignment? You can contact Etiwel Mutero on 00263773614293 or etiwelm02@gmail.com

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