|International Reader in the Management of Library, Information and Archive Services (UNESCO, 1987, 684 p.)|
|1. Management, information and development|
|1.1 Managing information: to what end?|
K. J. MCHOMBU
This paper attempts to outline the main characteristics of Librarianship under the conditions of poverty. To the best of my knowledge and conviction, this is the base on which any meaningful discussion of Information Work in underdeveloped countries should be firmly anchored.
The goal of my paper is to set up and elaborate on four principles that, in my view, determine the social relevance of Information Work in developing countries. This is a personal testament, and I hasten to add that the views expressed hereafter do not necessarily represent the official position of my employers - the Tanzania Library Service. Similarly, criticism is not directed at any particular institution or person. Should it appear so, I offer my sincere apologies.
1.1 If their work is to be relevant to society, Information Workers must formulate terms of reference that are consistent with the needs of underdeveloped societies. At the moment, it seems to me that such terms of reference are largely nonexistent, and where they do exist they are vague and frequently irrelevant. Given below are the principles that I believe can help in formulating the appropriate terms of reference (and justify the sweeping statements above).
The principles, which are not mutually exclusive, are:
1. That the chief factor determining Information work in developing countries should be poverty rather than affluence.
2. That Information work in developing countries differs markedly from Information work in developed countries.
3. That it is possible to gather a body of knowledge on how best to meet this challenge.
4. That Information workers must play an active role in the process of socioeconomic development.
This paper was originally presented al an Experts' Conference on Teaching Materials in Library Training, Berlin (West) 1 5-20th December. 1980. The author is Training Of beer, Tanzania Library Service, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
Libri 1982: vol.. 32, no 3. pp 241-250 0024-2667/82/030241-10 $02.50/0 © 1982 Munksgaard, Copenhagen 16 Libri 32:3
1.2 Information work and poverty
In Stating that Information work in underdeveloped countries should be based on poverty, I am saying something that could well be embarassingly self-evident. The division of the world into a rich North, and a poor South, is not only reflected in different levels of income, and the sharp difference in most things that make life bearable, but it divides the provision of Information with equal clarity.
In underdeveloped countries the common man is poor, illiterate and concerned with the basics of survival; more than four-fifths of his income is spent on food alone. He is hungry, undernourished, and diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, and cholera are his constant companions. Children suffer more than adults; kwashiakor and parasitic diseases claim many of their lives before they reach the age of ten. Only about 40% of the children complete primary school.
More than 90% of the people live in rural areas where transport and communication are very difficult. Within the urban areas, outside the enclaves inhabited by the elite, the majority of people live in slums, the so-called, "Shanty towns". The dwellings are overcrowded, and the level of housing is hopeless by any standards, human or otherwise.
Under-employment and unemployment is widespread, and it is not National Income that grows steadily year by year, but human deprivation and suffering. Another growth area concerns the birth rate, at 3% per year it is the "best" in the world.
This anatomy of poverty and social reality must surely determine the nature, objectives and philosophy of Librarianship in underdeveloped countries. Poverty dictates, for example, the pattern of Information services where the amount of money available per head is less than 1 shilling (10 pence). Such poverty is responsible for a lack of trained staff, a weak publishing industry, and half-empty shelves- in short this is a distinct and different world, one ruled by poverty, ignorance and disease. The factors outlined above are a formidable challenge to the Information Worker in underdeveloped countries and give Information Work a very different quality.
At this point there are three questions that need to be asked; what fundamental knowledge and skills does an Information worker need to work efficiently in such a situation? How can this knowledge be applied to the maximum benefit of the underdeveloped society? Is it possible to gather a body of knowledge on how best to meet this challenge? I cannot pretend to have ready-made answers. Obviously, a considerable amount of interdisciplinary research to these questions is needed to provide the answers required. However, a number of observations can be made.
Conferences and journals such as the present one, create in my view, the right environment in which strategies can be developed for best meeting these problems and assembling the required knowledge and skills of optimum use to Information workers in developing countries.
1.3 A body of knowledge to meet such challenges: My firm belief that it is quite possible to gather together a body of knowledge on how this challenge is best met was stated implicitly above. Such a task requires, primarily, a particular attitude of mind, and secondarily, a suitable methodology that will give the desired results.
The attitude required is one of open-mindedness and objectivity. We must be prepared to subject every aspect of Librarianship to vigorous criticism and evalution because, like it or not, we have to start from the known before moving on to the unknown. Through this selective adaption, it is possible to produce a considerable body of knowledge suitable for the needs of underdeveloped countries. The rest of the knowledge needed will, however, have to be derived from the existing situation and unique problems.
This will be a classic case of theories evolving from practice, rather than of theories being borrowed from abroad and applied misguidedly in a very different context. I dare to suggest that it is possible to produce a distinct body of knowledge suited to the needs of underdeveloped countries using these two methods.
At first, such knowledge will lack form; clearly defined limits and the harmony between one area and another may not always be apparent. Its strong potential will, however, lie in the fact that it is theoretical knowledge that has developed out of existing social problems. It will not be knowledge imported wholesale that is abstract and frequently irrelevant. Such knowledge could well be closer to sociology and the economics of underdevelopment than to traditional librarianship, as understood and practiced in the majority of underdeveloped countries today.
The critical part of this exercise is establishing what is relevant to a particular situation at a particular moment. It is this situational relevance that will shape the new theory of the Librarianship of poverty. Using this approach it could be possible to develop a theoretical framework regarding the following fields:
1. The pattern of Information services.
2. The role of information workers.
3. Existing social factors and their implications for Information workers.
4. Relationship between information work and socio-economic development.
Before proceeding to explore these four fields, I feel it should be emphasized that our colleagues the Economists, sociologists, political scientists and educators have done much work aimed at developing a theoretical base for their professions that is relevant to underdeveloped countries. With careful interdisciplinary comparative studies, we could learn a lot that would be of great value in this undertaking - if only we could for a moment think beyond our hallowed DDC's, Sears Lists, and cataloguing rules.
1.3.1 The pattern of Information Services must reflect the resources of the country.
This statement may be thought to be self-evident if it is realised that Information infrastructure depends on an economic base for financial support. In practice, however, most "planners" of Information units are not free of preconceived notions imported from the developed countries in which they did their training. The standards suggested for libraries in underdeveloped areas are often faithfully copied from British, American or Australian handbooks.
I suggest that an objective attitude may force it upon us that a fresh set of standards more closely related to the actual situation is needed. A start must be made from the basic position that the limited resources must be stretched to provide maximum social benefit. However, social benefit is a concept not easy to measure. It is very easy to confuse means with ends. Very often we take pride in giving "Statistics" covering library buildings constructed within the past five years, the number of motor vehicles purchased, and the librarians and technicians sent for training. This emphasis is sadly misplaced. It is like a motor-car manufacturer who tries to maximise not his output of cars but the number of his workers and the size of his factory.
Given a sum of money, say four million shillings (£ 200,000), we should be able to find out which alternative programme of expenditure would be of greatest benefit. Using costbenefit, and cost-effectiveness methods, we could establish the cheapest path to our goal. We could focus on the end product rather than the means.
These conditions of poverty mean that the need to make the most of limited resources in the provision of Information services is a basic strategy. The construction of libraries, the training of e.g., librarians, and the purchase of motor-vehicles are merely means to an end - they are not the goal of an Information unit in itself. The key question is: how many more people can we serve as a result of a certain item of expenditure?
Considering the majority of information units, we find that the wage bill is around 60% and the capital costs are very high. These two items of expenditure have hampered considerably the development of Information services in most underdeveloped countries. The ridiculous situation where there are cataloguers who are without incoming documents is all too common.
High capital expenditure is the outcome of trying to construct premises modelled on those existing in Europe and North America. The buildings are splendid, but because resources are severely limited, it means that only one or two of these imposing monuments can be erected in a decade. The process of spreading an Information Infrastructure throughout a country is considerably delayed by the adoption of this expensive policy. If we use cost-benefit methods, we may yet discover that it is the cheap, small, well-maintained buildings made of inexpensive building materials that are an important key to the faster growth of our Information services.
All this leads to the conclusion that the standards of Information services must be tailored to the economic ability of a country. If the pattern of Information services is pushed ahead of general economic development, standards will be set that can only be maintained in small pockets of the country. The lucky few may have a very good service, but most people will have no service at all, or a service that is inadequate and at prohibitive distances.
The planning of Information services in developing countries needs to be deliberately related to a particular time and place. The temptation to upgrade standards, complexity, and sophistication before extending coverage needs to be checked, for this "keeping up with the Jones"' results in prestige programmes that do little to extend the coverage of Information services while absorbing large sums of money and pools of skill.
There is yet another reason why plans having a low capital output ratio are to be preferred. Most developing countries have a constantly fluctuating economy because this depends on the export of a few main crops or products - so that as world prices fluctuate the economy alternates from slump to boom and back again in bewildering succession. Government revenues that depend on such earnings reflect these cycles - expensive plans initiated during boom periods act as a painful drain on funds during periods of slump.
1.3.2 The Role of Information workers
Most of the staff holding senior positions in underdeveloped countries have been trained on a background of Information work as practiced in industrialised countries. Not unexpectedly, the prevailing attitude is that this is the way in which users should behave, and the way in which Information services operate. My belief, already stated, is that this is an erroneous view of things because the lavish standards of service that exist in a typical developed country are impossible to maintain in a poor country, unless the objective is to provide an Information service for the fortunate few rather than the majority of mankind in developing societies. Indeed, this does, sadly, appear to be the unstated objective of many an Information service in developing countries. After more than 15 years of existence, and expenditure of millions of shillings, many public Library systems have not yet succeeded in serving more than 1% of the population of their areas.
In most underdeveloped countries, the number of documents per head is low, the average sum spent annually per head of the population is low, and trained staff per head of population is low. Despite these facts, a few favoured areas enjoy a standard of service shaped to European standards. If it took 15 years to reach 1% of the population, how long will it take to reach the remaining 99%? Will it take 99x15 years to serve the whole population? If the present trend continues, I am afraid this could be the case. We could unwittingly provide a service such as that characterised by Bill (1962):
"- a service supposedly for all, used by only a smallish minority, and found wanting by most."
In the area of manpower planning, care must be taken that the staff required are produced in sufficient quantities to keep pace with the development of the service. Because of the scarcity of resources, greater emphasis may have to be placed on technicians rather than on librarians.
In underdeveloped countries technicians play a different and more important role because of the shortage of librarians, and this situation will continue for the coming decade. The work done by technicians includes tasks such as cataloguing, indexing, readers' advisory work, bibliographic and literature searches - this is work of a more skilled nature than that done by their counterparts in developed countries - because there is no one else to do it.
The shortage of staff can be alleviated if all trained staff are made aware of their obligation to train those working under them. This approach will ensure a snowball effect, because the trained staff will themselves carry out training activities in their own Information units.
The scarcity of everything would seem to indicate that co-operation between Information units should result in economising on resources and overall benefits. Yet, as found in most underdeveloped countries, it is one thing to agree on the importance of co-operation, but a very different thing to practice it. There are some psychological barriers to co-operation that need to be overcome if libraries are to co-operate in our countries.
As already pointed out above, underdeveloped countries have very limited job and career opportunities. Attempts at initiating co-operative ventures are regarded with suspicion because the individuals concerned regard each other as potential rivals. Those with similar qualifications, working in the same field, regard anything achieved by someone else as a threat to their own position in this imaginary but fierce struggle for survival. It is very rare indeed to come across anyone prepared to subordinate his own interests to some broader social goal.
Furthermore, an exchange of fruitful ideas is sometimes very difficult because a senior person will not risk a loss of face by being seen to act on the advice or recommendation of anyone else- especially a junior- as this would seem to indicate that he acknowledges the superiority of someone else.
The conspicuous absence of union catalogues, union lists of serials and centralized cataloguing schemes, more than testifies to this psychological problem. Unless information workers come to realise that it is only by working as a group rather than against one another, that they can achieve their objectives and demonstrate to society what they are capable of doing - continued isolation and "one-up-manship" is a source of weakness and leads to overall ineffectiveness.
1.3.3. The Existing Social Factors and their Implications for Information Workers. A number of existing social factors lack of resources, plans based on Washington and London Standards, and phychological insecurity of information workers making co-operation impossible, etc., were considered in the previous sections of this paper. A further area not yet explored is education and the contradictory attitude of society towards this subject.
It has been pointed out by many a good writer that education is the main correlate of reading and library use, hence the greater the level of education, the greater the likelihood for utilising Library services. However, seen in the light of the experience of underdeveloped countries, this generalisation is not always true.
The decisive factor, is not just "education" alone; the kind of education that a person receives also determines the likelihood of his continued use of Libraries and information services in the community. To a very large extent, formal education in underdeveloped societies is dominated by cultural attitudes towards authority - be it parental, religious or political. The readily accepted attitude is to obey these sources of authority without question. The classroom is a microcosm of the larger society outside; education is largely an unquestioning acceptance of the teaching authority. Books and any reading matter play only a very minor part in the process. Lecture notes and a single textbook can see a student through his academic career. There is very little opportunity for innovation, experimentation, and objective analysis - even at university level.
It is quite plain that every aspect of our education system tends to discourage the formation of wide reading habits. Out of class, reading tasks are seldom assigned, or assigned as a mere formality. Should a student be bold enough to read widely and formulate his own ideas, or ideas in conflict with his class lectures, then he may well fail his examinations.
This narrow-mindedness is considerably reinforced by the examination system in most underdeveloped countries. Because of the limited opportunities available in secondary and high education, the purpose of examinations has now become not a test of a student's mastery of his subject, but primarily to serve as an obstacle to reduce drastically the number of those who go on to higher studies.
Having surmounted this hurdle, through fair means or foul, this tiny group assume the mental attitude of an elite - that they possess particular natural qualifications that are lacking in others. This pseudo-intellectual arrogance has often been articulated by the statement; "After graduation, the only thing I will ever read is the sports page of the daily newspapers".
This specific educational context has resulted in library services in underdeveloped countries having very limited demands - most of the stock is left permanently idle on the shelves to collect dust and mould. The social pressure to expand library services is minimal - to the majority libraries have very little social relevance. Not unexpectedly, the role of library services is still a limited one, and the status of this profession comparatively low.
Many librarians and government officials have failed to discern these underlying factors. Attempts to solve the problems have included the hiring of experts to advise on how to start information units and systems; the formulation of standards copied from Western countries, or requested for foreign aid. To date, most such efforts have not lived up to expectations. The foreign nationals leave the country and their model libraries speedily deteriorate to their former shambles, their textbook reports being filed away out of sight. The standards formulated fail to elicit any action other than temporary curiosity. Foreign aid continues to pour dollars, pounds kroner and Deutsche marks into the country. The slight impact that this aid has had proves that it is only of secondary importance in the development of Information services; money alone does not create an Information system that involves readers, premises, documents and staff. What is of primary importance for such services is local desire and initiative. Foreign aid can help but will never be decisive in the development of Information services in underdeveloped countries. In fact, its periodic availability may deceive planners into indulging in expensive plans left half finished when such aid comes to an end; or acquiring expensive gadgets for which no spare parts or software are forthcoming when the donors leave.
1.3.4 Relationship between Information work and socio-economic development. Socio-economic development concerns every organisation in underdeveloped societies. Information units cannot continue to isolate themselves from this social struggle aimed at giving people a better life. Every worker in an Information unit must study this historical process so as to determine what is expected of him. Anyone who shirks this task risks redundancy because, in the distribution of scarce resources, only those who can demonstrate that they are capable of producing a favourable cost-benefit balance will deserve the funds required. We have no right to expect anything else.
I suggest that having the right attitude is the most important factor in determining how actively Information Services will be involved in this struggle for survival. There is a need to be seen to provide Information geared to development in the fields of agriculture, industry, commerce, education and health. Unfortunately, the majority of Information workers in underdeveloped societies are timid in their approach and have a very limited vision of activities and ways in which Information services can participate in this social struggle. I strongly believe, that an Information worker devoted to national development, having a sense of mission and being committed to this social struggle, and understanding the importance and urgency of modernisation is likely to play an active and fully involved role. It is perhaps quite plain, too, that an Information Worker conditioned to view his job from European standards may come to consider his environment as backward and hopeless, and become a disillusioned misfit. On the other hand, an Information Worker who treats his environment as a positive challenge to be met and finally altered for the better, can became an involved agent of change.
It is only through such involvement in the struggle against the social enemies of poverty, ignorance, and diseases that the relevance of Information services can be firmly established. It takes hard thinking, hard work and patience.
This paper attempts to examine how Information services can be developed under conditions of poverty. Information workers must formulate terms of reference for their work consistent with the needs of underdeveloped countries. As this work has to be carried out under conditions of extreme poverty - scant resources must be streched to provide maximum benefit. Means must not be confused with ends: buildings, motor vehicles, and wages are not the objective, hence expenditure on these items can only be justified if it results in an increased number of users.
In order to develop a body of knowledge on how best to meet these challenges, an open-minded and objective attitude is needed. The methods that can be used to gather this body of knowledge include adaptation and experimentation relating to practical problems. The scarcity of resources must be reflected by: the pattern of Information services; the role of Information Workers; the way that Information Services are adapted to the locality concerned and the active participation of Information Workers in national development.
The pattern of Information services must reflect the economic ability of the country concerned rather than follow standards copied blindly from developed countries. The cost-benefit concept is vital in ensuring the optimum use of scant resources and that the cheapest alternative is followed. The pattern of Information services needs to be approached from the bottom upwards rather than from the top downwards. Small, cheap units, located close to where people actually live must come before large, sophisticated libraries.
Information workers need to develop an aggressive attitude and to participate fully in the social struggle for national development. There is also a need for cooperation in order to economise on scant resources. To achieve this, the present psychological problems must be rationalised and overcome. These are the result of the limited career opportunities available that lead people to regard others as rivals, and consider the accomplishments of others as a threat to their own positions. Another problem is a retrogressive education system that depends wholly on the teaching authority, and on a single text-book. Such a system does not lead to the formation of wide reading habits.
The conclusion is that Information Workers must look for solutions to their problems within their own societies rather than depending on foreign aid.
1. Asheim, L. Librarianship in the Developing Countries. Urbana, Illinois 1966.
2. Bill, A. H. The Library in the Community in Proceedings of the Annual Conference. The Library Association, 1962 p. 63.
3. Ilomo, C. S. Paraprofessional Library Training in Tanzania: Mimeo.
4. Mchombu, K. I. Information studies programme for Tanzania: A proposal Loughborough, 1979. (unpublished M. A. dissertation).
5. Minder, T. and Whitten, B. Basic Undergraduate Education for Librarianship and Information Science. Journal of Edu for Libr. vol. 15 no. 4, 1975 p. 25-270.
6. Kotei, S. I.-A. Preparing Teaching Materials for Library
Education in Ghana: A Historical
Account. Crit meeting, Arusha, 25-30 Nov. 1979.
Ermelinda Acerenza (Director of the EUBCA)
Teresa Castilla (Lecturer in Library Organization and Administration)
The developing countries are lagging behind in the establishment of national information systems because they lack the necessary infrastructures. Some countries, however - Brazil and Mexico, among others - are already making efforts to overcome this problem.
A plan for the development of an information policy may prove to be of consideral importance here.
It serves to channel general efforts towards priority sectors and also becomes an instrument for the integration of information units so as to make them more effective and functional in the future.
The situation prevailing in a given country is described by means of indicators whose preparation enables conclusions to be drawn concerning the transformations that must be made if the deadlock is to be broken and attainable development levels reached.
This strategy must be geared to relatively precise goals, and, more especially, goals that are capable of being achieved.
There is a better chance of attaining such targets with proper planning and monitoring, and this is an approach that has accordingly been adopted by the authorities in recent years.
The process of integration of the developing countries should be focused on the enhanced use of knowledge for the production of goods and services; this means that a more pragmatic approach should be adopted in appraising the course of scientific and technological development in these countries.
All of this involves a reordering of the different factors involved in the processes of creating, disseminating and using knowledge, and they should be evaluated on the basis of their contribution to technical changes in the production sector.
It is here that technical information emerges as an essential input of the innovatory process. Information constitutes a body of conceptual knowledge or data which may be transmitted and/or utilized.
The search for information, its processing, and its application constitute a type of assistance which is offered to the user.
But this is frequently not sufficient, especially when technological problems have to be identified and overcome. Supporting services accordingly come into play in order to cover the stages of the design, launching and implementation of projects.
2. Information policy
Information activities - as prerequisites for research - are essential in decision-making relating to science and technology policy and development. The transfer of information may stop certain bodies from keeping to their own narrow spheres; it may prevent the erroneous interpretation of research findings and their use in strengthening specific, elitist, technocratic positions.
The growing importance of information, in conjunction with technical assistance, constitutes an important change as a new ingredient in production; whatever divergencies there may be in economic forecasts for the coming years, the common denominator to be found in all is the fact that the service industries will probably show the highest growth rates.
Since it is the service industries, of all the economic sectors, which depend to the greatest extent on the transfer of information, it is to be hoped that there will be a parallel expansion in information as well as in the advisory services of specialists in the various branches of knowledge.
Ultimately all organizations seek gain; information services and technical assistance represent a form of investment and whoever is responsible for them is entitled to expect something in return.
The value of information and its growing cost are recognized and a market is being developed for this new consumer article with subscriptions for different types of services. Automatic communication with any part of the world is a reality today and its use is being rapidly extended. It is only a question of time and planning for these facilities to be included among the economic possibilities of information systems.
Information in conjunction with technical assistance, constitutes the basis for the progress of society, and many countries have, for this reason, studied the need for the more systematic planning of their present information infrastructures so as to enable them to make full use of the resources built up at the national level and to participate in the world information systems which exist already or which may come into being in the future.
It may be deduced from the above that planning is essential in all human activities and that information policy is no exception to this rule.
In every historical period, priority is assigned to the attainment of a certain order of things and the planning of information policies should therefore be flexible.
Planning means forecasting. In planning information policy, the form in which knowledge is growing and being systematized by culture must be borne in mind, as well as the ways and means required to transmit it to the users.
Plans should, therefore, be assessed and revised at frequent intervals.
It is also important, if an information policy plan is to have maximum effectiveness, to stress the following points:
- its specific objectives should be defined and practical results evaluated;
- goals and corresponding stages should be established;
- the resources available (human, material, financial and technological) should be ascertained;
- resources which are to make up the information system should be analysed, co-ordinated and integrated;
- meetings at the national level on the transfer of information should be promoted;
- an inventory of institutions should be carried out so as to identify the legal framework and the scientific and technological resources available to the country;
- information channels should be developed.
3. Objectives of the information policy and evaluation of its practical results
Objectives should be rank-ordered and an appropriate framework defined within which information needs will emerge and develop. For this purpose:
- measures should be taken to bring out the vital importance of obtaining, organizing, disseminating and utilizing information with a view to encouraging national development and integration, in the context of the production and evaluation of knowledge;
- there should be participation in the country's economic and social progress as a means of enhancing existing national resources so that information policy may be on a par with that of the developed countries;
- a legal framework should be established with provisions covering the theoretical basis of the national information system and technical assistance and also the component parts, including all the specialized units in specific areas;
- the importance of enhancing the interrelations existing between the various areas of information and their respective groups of users should be clearly established, having regard to the social danger represented by excessive fragmentation of knowledge and any monopoly over access to information;
- there should be awareness of the effectiveness of the policy being introduced, attention being given to the receptive capacity of those for whom the information is intended;
- the rapid progress of civilization should be reflected in the training of personnel on the basis of the most sophisticated techniques so that they may play a useful part in the implementation of national information policy;
- the appropriate infrastructure should be created for the purpose of introducing changes; it should be built up with a view to ensuring the full use of national resources and participation in existing information systems or those which may come into being in the future; the infrastructure should be developed in order to provide support for the functioning and continuity of the national system, consolidating theoretical bases, relations with the competent authorities and the technical and professional personnel, the aim being to ensure that the activities undertaken will produce constructive results.
All countries have political components which are bound to affect the system; efforts should accordingly be made, through appropriate strategies, to seek results in line with the objectives set, which will naturally differ from one country to another.
The methodologies, criteria and techniques of evaluation are essentially dynamic and should be geared to the strategic and technical modifications that may be involved in the development process.
A methodology applicable at all times and all places is inadvisable; on the contrary, it should be geared to the pace of the country's development in order to ensure its greater effectiveness.
The task of reconciling the micro-economic interests of the user with the macro-economic and social interests of the country constitutes, to a certain extent, the key to the forms of selection and the methodologies of evaluation of information and technical assistance.
Evaluation for what purpose? What should be evaluated? How should it be evaluated? When should it be evaluated?
Once the context has been ascertained, then the guidelines and criteria which may be used to set up an evaluation structure fall into place.
Evaluation is a rational and political process. It should be carried out at both the micro- and the macro-economic levels. At the micro-economic level, the factor of cost-effectiveness and the question of the utilization of information might be used as evaluation criteria. At the macro-economic level, the basis for evaluation is the use of information as an instrument of change in regard to the country's social and economic conditions which would subsequently enable the community to draw closer to its chosen goal.
The general features of the plan or the national programme have to be sought so as to obtain specific and practical criteria for use in evaluation. The establishment of criteria is of value only in providing a specific framework on the basis of which the evaluation itself might be made.
What is essential is to avoid a theoretical, general approach and to make the analysis as objective, feasible and practical as possible.
The cost of overall evaluation may turn out to be so expensive that it is no longer feasible. It is therefore important to evaluate services that are centralized by areas and are essential for the development of the country or for the strategy that it has established.
It is necessary to select leading sectors in which the operational bases of the nationally-organized mechanisms involved in development may be established.
Integrated evaluation should, from the initial stage of planning information policy seek to determine: the effects of the system as regards the benefits to be gained by those who will be using it; the basis for improving, justifying or giving up the system.
It is then, important to concentrate the use of the evaluation techniques, taking into account the following points:
1. formulation of national policies;
2. design of national information systems;
3. implementation of systems, considering:
- feasibility of the service,
- identification of the market,
- organization and strategy of development by stages.
The effectiveness of the evaluation of the practical results of the information policy may be gauged from:
-the quantity and quality of the activities being undertaken;
- the results of the efforts made;
- the extent to which the results obtained match up to the full needs of the service;
- the results obtained by comparing the efforts made with the means of attaining the objectives;
- research into the causes determining the desired results.
4. Goals and stages
The conceptual and philosophical framework described above constitutes the starting-point for the appropriate systematization of the stages to be covered.
The system is designed to be developed at the national level in successive stages, with distinct goals for the different periods.
In the stage to be planned first, the field of application will be confined to priorities established in national development plans. In subsequent stages the necessary steps will be taken to extend it to other sectors within the national territory.
The following points should be taken into account in implementing the system:
- identification and dissemination of its objectives;
- preparation of instruments such as will attain the objectives set;
- listing of existing information units and ensuring their co-ordination with a view to integration;
- analysing, describing, specifying and classifying their components;
- initiating the normal functioning of the system and making it operational;
- gearing it to the needs arising from its practical application;
- adjusting and adopting, on an experimental basis, the results of evaluation, with a view to the creation of a new model;
- making the competent authorities aware of the need for the system, and of its policy and characteristics;
- providing training, as far as possible, at the operational levels of the sectors assigned priority in the country's development plan;
- drawing up the profile of users;
- listing the needs of each specialized area;
- planning and providing for redistribution where imbalances exist, according to the list drawn up;
- preparing an appropriate policy to remedy weaknesses in information and ensure its steady growth;
- classifying the different variables which affect the problem, and designing the instruments required to establish the appropriate parameters;
- studying and putting into effect the channelling mechanisms that will lead to centralization;
- providing advice to the component units and improving the information and analysis services.
The following methods will be employed in working towards the objectives set:
- field studies;
- meetings with technicians in the specialized areas;
- organization of seminars and training courses in specialized subjects and skills;
- use of techniques in line with the economic possibilities of the country involved.
5. Structural aspects
The strategy for developing structural aspects includes, as its first stage, the generation of a process of 'outward' growth so as to provide the foreign currency required to finance investments.
Various methods may be used, individually or jointly, in drawing up the strategy:
- increasing the number of components in the system;
- changing the techniques used, replacing traditional methods by more advanced techniques for data processing and retrieval;
- increasing effectiveness.
Use of the first two methods requires general agreement concerning their application.
In the case of the second, it should be pointed out that it has the advantage of being the development strategy which leads to the most rapid growth in information processing.
The third method, that of increasing effectiveness, should remain the fundamental basis of the strategy for developing the system.
Countries should make considerable efforts to step up the process of introducing technology and modernizing the whole of their resources.
Once all the data have been compiled, a reply can be given to all the queries concerning the technological level (use of inputs, current practices, information processing, outputs, human resources, etc.). This, in turn, calls for the effective interrelating of the various capacities so as to ensure that the technological progress achieved is turned to full account.
As a result, there should be a focal point or central unit - whose purpose is to carry out all the necessary studies and research, formulate policies and co-ordinate programme implementation - which will work with the information units in each specialized area, namely those units responsible for putting into effect the methods approved. This whole process will be carried out under the technical guidance of the central unit.
The success of the system calls for:
- institutional consolidation (central unit and units in areas of specialized information);
- official support from the highest authorities;
- active assistance of the library specialist who will be responsible for translating the goals proposed into reality;
- the replacement of manual techniques by an appropriate form, in both qualitative and quantitative terms, of advanced data processing;
- the channelling of information to the data preparation and processing centres.
In anticipation of these operations, the countries concerned should strengthen and improve:
- the master plan for computerization and its implementation aspects;
- the structure of the computer centres;
- the training of programmers, operators, systems analysts and administrators for the main computer centre;
- the training of information science specialists.
6. Professional training
This aspect should not be neglected in librarianship studies. The institutes which provide such training should come under a university or have university support, and they should also be recognized by the competent authorities.
The important thing is for the librarian to be an information specialist, trained to participate in the preparation of new structures in the developing countries, responsible for all aspects of research concerning the design, supervision and development of information systems at a high level, capable of taking decisions regarding operational, executive, technological, organizational and administrative matters in libraries and archives.
He should also be able to operate at the following levels:
- the hierarchical level - management of information systems of a high level, with responsibility for methodology and organization of information;
- the research level - documentation and information sciences;
- the technical level - implementation of systems-based operations;
- the technical auxiliary level - for routine operations in support of the higher levels.
There will be a potential for development at each level, providing bases and points of growth that will enable new practices to be implemented in order to further national development.
The decade of the 1970s took the developing countries - which were going through transitional stages - by surprise in regard to the use of new methods for information handling. Traditional methods were abandoned and replaced by more sophisticated procedures regarded as semi-automatic, including the system of co-ordinate indexing known as the uniterm method.
Since programmes should contribute to national understanding, curricula should cover two main sectors:
- studies based on traditional systems;
- studies in which emphasis is given to the information sciences and the automatization of libraries.
In the teaching of library science, the fact has to be faced that we have entered a period in which libraries are abandoning current structures and are becoming part of national systems, with a view to integration at the international level, involving mastery of advanced techniques. As the number of libraries using traditional methods decreases, so studies should be directed towards support for national information policy.
Information policy is bound to make steady progress over the next five years and the developing countries will require more efficient systems involving the use of the necessary data-processing technology. They must therefore establish appropriate forward plans so as to be able to cope with the changes that will take place.
The plan submitted must satisfy the acutely felt need for the efficient dissemination of the knowledge built up in the country and abroad; it should increase the total sum of knowledge and improve the individual capacities of each country. It is impossible to move from a complete absence of activities to full operational level in one stride. Since implementation will certainly involve considerable effort and outlay, it seems appropriate to consider the real possibilities of putting such a plan into effect. From the point of view of implementation capacity, it has to be recognized that this is one of the variables to be considered in the short term. On this basis it should be possible to attain the growth rates required, and this accordingly means that there is a greater possibility of being able to reach the goals fixed.
The financing of the plan should be ensured more especially by the generation of resources through public or private enterprises, as appropriate. This would be the best way of guaranteeing the achievement of the planned targets.
8. Bibliographical references
Libraries in factories and large firms, Maria BRAZ, Unesco Bulletin for Libraries, Vol. 22, No. 5, September-October 1968, pp. 236-240.
Ciencia e industria: un caso argentino/Alberto Araoz, Carlos Martinez Videl - Washington: OEA, 1974.
DEVSIS disereliminar de un sistema internacional de informaciara las ciencias del desarrollo/Grupo de Estudio DEVSIS, Geneva, 1975 - Ottawa: CIID, 1976.
Directrices para la evaluacie seminarios, reuniones de trabajo pricos y cursos de formaciobre informaci documentaciientificas y ticas/ F.W. Lancaster - Montevideo Unesco Regional Office for Science and Technology for Latin America and the Caribbean, 1976.
Guidelines for the organization of training courses, workshops and seminars in scientific and technical information and documentation/Pauline Atherton; Paris, Unesco, 1975.
Information science education and development; Tefko Saracevic; Unesco Bulletin for Libraries, Vol. 31, No. 3, May-June 1977, pp. 134-141.
Final report of UNISIST/Seminar on the Education and Training of Users of Scientific Information, Rome, 1976 - Paris, Unesco, 1976. Information services in industry: the future prospects/B.C. Burrows - ASLIB Proceed.-s 25 (10): pp. 364-374, October 1973.
Information transfer in the industrial environment: the requirements of industry/David Rowe - ASLIB Proceed.-s 25 (11): pp. 425-429, November 1973.
Informe sobre servicios de informaci asistencia tica a las empresas/ Reuniel Grupo de Trabajo creado por la resoluciG/RES. 233 (VI-0/76). Washington, 1977 - Washington: OEA, 1977.
National planning of documentation and library services in Arab countries/ Expert Meeting, Cairo, 1974. Bull. Unesco Libr.-s 28 (4): pp. 182-187, July/ August 1974.
NATIS preliminary survey of education and training programmes at university level in information and library science/D.J. Foskett - Paris, Unesco, 1976.
Pay as you go: plan for satellite industrial libraries using academic facilities/James B. Dodd - Spec. Libr.-s 65 (2): pp. 66-72, February 1974.
Plan nacional de desarrollo 1973-1977/SEPLACOD (Uruguay) - Montevideo. Presidencia de la Repa, 1977.
Problems and prospects in information service for small industry/ K. Bhattacharyya - Jour Librarian 5 (4): pp. 264-292, October 1973.
Proposed terms of reference for the implementation phase of the Latin American Technological Information Network (RITLA): paper prepared for the Meeting of Experts, Mexico, 1977/Personal invitation, convened at the Headquarters of the Permanent Secretariat - Mexico, 1977.
Service to industry by independent research libraries/William S. Buddington Libr. Tre.-s 14 (3): pp. 288-294. January 1966.
Sistema cientifico y tico nacional/CONYCYT - Montevideo, 1974.
La transmisiapida de informacireliminar en ciencia y tecnologia/ T. Ohoherha-Bol. Unesco Bibl.-s 27 (4): pp. 221-224, July/August 1973.
Uruguay: sistema nacional de informaciientca y tica/Betty Johnson de Vodanovic - Montevideo, Unesco Regional Office for Science and Technology for Latin America and the Caribbean, 1977.
Model for a national information system (DRAFT)
Retrospective documentary information is important because virtually no sector of the national economy, science or culture can advance without scrutinizing and drawing upon the lessons of the past. Such information is particularly timely at the present stage of the development of society, when the gathering pace of scientific and technological progress has become a decisive factor in raising the effectiveness of social production.
Meeting society's needs in regard to retrospective documentary information is one of the basic functions of the State archive services of the countries of the socialist community. It was therefore highly relevant to discuss, at the meeting of archivists of the countries of the socialist community, the problem of organizing the utilization of archive material for national economic purposes.
General. For the archive institutions of the countries of the socialist community, the notion of utilization of material to serve national economic interests includes primarily full utilization of the information contained in the material for the purpose of tackling present-day economic development tasks.
The utilization of material for national economic purposes is understood by archivists in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to cover reference to the documentary information of ministries and departments, research and design institutions, enterprises and other organizations in forecasting and planning the country's economic development, improving management and accounting, executing planning and experimental design work and applied research, optimizing production and technological processes, and so on.
Archive material - chiefly scientific, technological and cartographic documentation - is used in the planning, construction and reconstruction of water-management works, communications infrastructures, industrial enterprises and public buildings, in geological prospection and mining, in the restoration of historical and cultural monuments and in the further development of agricultural production, forestry and environmental protection.
Extensive use of retrospective information is made in all countries of the socialist community when preparing plans for irrigation works, constructing reservoirs and conducting operations in connection with river regulation, protecting banks from overflowing and flooding, and so on. In the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, for example, material presented by archivists was drawn upon for planning major hydraulic works on the Song Koi and projecting the exploitation of the Mekong Delta. Geographical, geological and hydrological material has been used by Vietnamese specialists in connection with the establishment of hydrological improvement schemes and the construction of hydroelectric power plants, including that on the Da Dung (the largest in South-East Asia).
Soviet archive material was used in the reconstruction of the cascade of hydrosystems on the Dnieper, in the elaboration of comprehensive water-management plans for the Zeya and Selenga, Kura and Naryn and northern rivers, in the designing of a dyke to protect Leningrad from flooding, and in other schemes.
The archives of a number of socialist countries (Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Romania, the USSR and Viet Nam) make their material available to organizations concerned with the planning, construction and reconstruction of roads, railways and bridges. In particular, archive material was used in connection with the strengthening of bridges over the Osum in Bulgaria, the reconstruction of the 'Unity' railway line between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam, railway electrification, construction and reconstruction of motorways and the routing of new highways in the German Democratic Republic, the rebuilding of a railway bridge over the Warta in Poland, the construction of railway lines in Slovakia, and the planning of the Baikal-Amur line in the USSR.
The study by specialists of maps, plans and other material from geological prospections of earlier years and of information on the occurrence of mineral resources has assisted the extension and intensification of their mining, renewed industrial exploitation of previously abandoned pits and mines and the reconstruction and modernization of mining and other industrial enterprises in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the USSR.
In all countries of the socialist community active recourse is had to archive material in connection with the restoration of historical and cultural monuments and the reconstruction and repair of residential and public buildings and urban communications. Some instances of this have been the reconstruction of the Higher Medical Institute building in Bulgaria; the construction of the 'Poznan' hotel and the repairing of the swimming pool at the Olympic stadium in Wroclaw and the reconstruction of a number of parks, including Srebrna G in Poland; and the rehabilitation of historic centres in Bratislava, Kremze, Levoca and elsewhere in Czechoslovakia. Material from the State archives of the USSR has been made available to organizations working on the restoration of the structural complex of the Moscow Kremlin, architectural monuments in old Russian cities forming part of the 'Golden Ring', parts of the suburbs of Leningrad, the main street of Kiev - the Kreshchatik - and much else.
In recent years specialists engaged in agriculture and forestry in all the countries of the socialist community have been making increasingly frequent use of archive material. On the basis of such material, Vietnamese agronomists carried out work on such crops as tea, rice, coffee and rubber; Hungarian specialists investigated archives in order to determine the influence of Lake Balaton on agriculture; study by German scientists of data regarding the composition of forest stands in former years assisted preparation of a long-term plan for national forestry development; in Poland, information on ponds and reservoirs was of assistance in measures to develop fishing in the Dolny Slazk region; and representatives of the Higher Agricultural School of Slovakia made use of archive material in work on the improvement of agricultural crops and livestock species.
Considerable work is done by Soviet archives on organizing the utilization of material in the interests of agricultural development. In pursuance of the decision of the March 1965 Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CC/CPSU) 'on urgent measures to secure the further development of agriculture in the USSR', the 1974 decision of the CC/CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR 'on measures to secure the further development of agriculture outside the Black-Earth Zone of the RSFSR', the decisions of the 1982 May and November Plenums of the CC/CPSU and the tasks set in his speech to the November 1982 Plenum by Y.V. Andropov, General Secretary of the CC/CPSU, State archives make available to interested organizations material throwing light on the development of agriculture: on the zoning and structure of sown areas, crop pest control, the breeding of various species of livestock, the growing of experimental cereal and feed crops, irrigation and field-protection works, the utilization of reservoirs for fish breeding, and so on.
Retrospective documentary information is also used in the USSR in the preparation of State instruments and government decisions. For instance, when preparing the Land Act and the Cadastral Survey specialists studied sets of material on arable and pasture lands and soil maps; in the preparation of a number of decisions on environmental protection, use was made of control regulation documents specifying nature protection measures.
Archive material is extensively drawn upon by scientists and specialists for forecasting and forward planning of the socio-economic development of the USSR, of particular branches of the national economy and of individual regions of the country
A variable amount of working time is spent on organizing the utilization of archive material in the countries of the Socialist community for national economic purposes. While Czechoslovak archivists spend on such documentary work about 4 per cent of the time allotted to scientific information activity, the corresponding proportions in Hungary and Romania are as much as 20 per cent. Such activity accounts for over 50 per cent in the case of Vietnamese archivists, and in Bulgaria, the German Democratic Republic, Poland and the USSR it averages 10 per cent.
Communist parties and governments of countries of the socialist community attach great importance to State archives as sources of information on national economic matters. Many legal instruments and guidance documents contain provisions encouraging the use of archive information. For instance, a number of decisions of the Party and Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam point to the need to have recourse to archive material when organizing 'specialized works'. A circular signed by President do Chi Minh on 3 January 1946, the first standard-setting instrument of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam on archive administration, contains recommendations on the use of archive material in development work aiding the national economy.
A Hungarian extraordinary decree of 1969, in a section concerning the regulation of clerical work, emphasizes the need to devise such a system of organizing departmental records as will serve the interests of the national economy.
A 1976 decision of the Government of the German Democratic Republic on State archives makes it their main duty to supply information to State and national economic bodies and institutions. Legislation on specific branches of the national economy also indicates the need to make use of archive material.
The 1971 Decree on National Archives of the Socialist Republic of Romania provides for a number of measures intended to stimulate the information activity of archive institutions for national economic needs.
In the USSR, work on the utilization of material in the interests of the national economy began in the earliest years of Soviet archive construction. Lenin's decree of 1 June 1918 'on the reorganization and centralization of archives in the RSFSR', which is a basic instrument of archivists, emphasizes that archive material is centralized 'for purposes of optimum scientific utilization'.
The tasks of archives in aiding the national economy have been reflected in a number of legislative instruments of the Soviet Government on archive management. In particular, the 1980 Statute concerning the State Archives of the USSR singles out the utilization of archive material for national economic purposes as one of the main policy lines for State archives.
Work on arranging for the utilization of documentary resources for national economic purposes is organized by the archives of all countries of the socialist community, on the basis of socio-economic development targets set by Communist Party Congresses.
In the matter of utilization of archive material Soviet archivists are primarily guided by the decisions of the CPSU Congresses and the decisions of the Party and Government regarding economic, scientific and cultural development. At the present-day stage, such programme-setting material is provided by the decisions of the 26th CPSU Congress, which approved the 'Basic lines of economic and social development of the USSR for 1981-1985 and in the period to 1990', and the decisions of the May and November 1982 Plenums of the CPSU Central Committee.
Drawing upon such material, the State archives make documentary information available to ministries, departments and organizations for working out the country's practical socio-economic development tasks, thereby helping to establish the material and technical base of communism. Special impetus was given to the utilization of archive material, for national economic ends included, in the jubilee year of 1982, which was celebrated by all the peoples of the Soviet Union in commemoration of the triumph of Lenin's national policy.
Organizational bases. In all countries of the socialist community archive bodies fulfil a co-ordinating and directing role in organizing the utilization of State records for national economic purposes. This work is provided for in long-term and annual plans of archive institutions and conducted in close contact with interested establishments and organizations.
In planning scientific information activity, a particularly important factor is knowledge of the requirements of the national economy regarding retrospective information. Archives therefore study State and regional economic plans, organize joint discussions with potential users of archive material on matters of information activity and investigate the subject-matter of research conducted via reading rooms. It has become a firmly established practice for many archives in the USSR to harmonize and clarify the subject matter of record disclosure concerning national economic problems with users of documentary information.
Archives conduct theoretical elaboration of the problem of studying social requirements regarding retrospective documentary information. Great interest, for example, is aroused by the work of Bulgarian archivists on 'user demand for documentary information in agriculture', 'user demand for documentary information for social management purposes' and other themes.
In the Soviet Union, in accordance with the 1981-1985 five-year plan for the development of archive administration, a study is made of society's need for retrospective information, and the intensity of record utilization, for national economic purposes included, is investigated.
In the archives of all countries of the socialist community the provision of archival information for the national economy is free of charge. Alongside this, in order to satisfy the maximum number of applications for disclosure of requisite material, inclusive of that serving national economic needs, a number of central State archives of the USSR have established special subdivisions fulfilling the orders of institutions, organizations and enterprises on a contractual basis (for payment according to approved tariffs).
The utilization of material for national economic purposes is, as a rule. organized by trained personnel in close contact with specialists in the various branches of the national economy. For example, such co-operation is effected in connection with the disclosure of material concerning mining (Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic).
The utilization of material for national economic needs in archives of all the countries of the socialist community is recorded by means of an established in-house statistical system, usually on index cards by subject of disclosed material.
Forms of information. In order to provide interested ministries, departments, institutions and organizations with retrospective documentary information, archive establishments adopt a variety of working procedures, including the preparation on their own initiative of information material (letters, reviews, lists, information sheets, etc.); the utilization of surveys on national economic topics; the issuing of material to specialists in reading rooms; the preparation of copies of material or provision of the originals for temporary use; the mounting of documentary exhibitions; the holding of meetings of archive personnel with representatives of interested organizations; and the release of information to the press, radio and television about archive material.
In view of the great importance of the utilization of archive material for national economic development, archivists of all countries of the socialist community take the initiative in providing unsolicited information to interested institutions regarding the availability of material on particular subjects to which recourse may be had when studying specific problems or tackling practical assignments in connection with national economic development.
Many examples can be cited of such exceedingly useful information prepared by archives of the countries of the socialist community. Bulgarian archivists, for instance, provided interested institutions with lists of documents on 'tobacco-growing in the Blagoevgrad area, 1934-1944', 'socialist reorganization of agriculture in the Lovech area, 1944-1958', 'industrial development in the Pleven area, 1900-1947' and other themes.
In the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam information letters were prepared on material concerning investigations of marine currents at the Hamrong Rapids and prevention of silting of the rapids, construction of a deep-water port in Along Bay, the hydrographic regime of rivers, a river-dam system and work on protection against flooding and hurricanes.
Soviet archivists regard the provision of anticipatory information as one of the most important and forward-looking forms of their work. The USSR Central State Archive of the National Economy (CGANH) has informed ministries and departments, research establishments, industrial combines, enterprises and branch scientific and technological information centres about sets of documentary material describing the development of the various branches of the national economy (power engineering, machine-building, the chemical industry, transport, agriculture, etc.). The Central State Archives of Scientific and Technological Documentation of the Byelorussian SSR made available to planners a list of documents on items located along the route of the metropolitan railway under construction. The Central State Archive of Scientific, Technological and Medical Documentation of the Azerbaidjan SSR sent the appropriate organizations information about material on the history of the oil industry, extraction of oil from the sea-bed, the development of deep drilling for oil, and the construction of oil and gas pipelines. Uzbek and Kazakh archivists have provided interested organizations with material containing information about the water resources and irrigation works of those republics.
It should be noted that in most archives of the socialist countries a system exists for the selective distribution of information prepared on the initiative of the archives. In some cases a subscription system operates whereby users can be informed of the availability in the archives of material on a particular topic. Under this system, institutions receiving such information are required to report back to the archives on how it is used.
Archivists in a number of countries (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the USSR) prepare synoptic reports containing both information on existing material and an assessment of its importance to the user. In the Slovak Socialist Republic, for example, such reports are prepared at the request of ministries, government departments and working groups of symposia, seminars, conferences and meetings.
Romanian archives have compiled consolidated reports on 'mining maps of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries', 'prospection for and extraction of ores and other mineral resources', 'works on the study and analysis of mineral deposits', 'land-reclamation projects and plans; and other themes.
Experience has been amassed in the USSR of the preparation of analytical summaries of documents on the development of individual branches of industry that are of assistance to interested organizations in their practical work.
To provide greater opportunities for the utilization of material, archives issue various reference works containing information about material touching upon national economic problems. An example of such a publication is the directory of the holdings of the USSR Central State Archives of the National Economy concerning the history of building organizations between 1917 and 1957. Hungarian archivists have drawn up international consolidated information, the year 1980 seeing the publication of the guide 'Capitals of Europe. Sources for the history of architecture', which contains valuable information on material concerning the history of the cities and the architectural monuments of European capitals. In Bulgaria, brief information publications are brought out on individual archives providing particulars of the largest and most informative archive holdings.
In organizing information activity, archivists of the countries of the socialist community attach great importance to studying and applying the most effective methods of making archival information available to interested institutions. Thus, the Polish research collective 'Informatics and archives' concerns itself with elaborating methods of information work, and also determining advance subject-matter for the disclosure of material of national economic significance. Hungarian archivists are working on a programme for the use of computer technology in keeping a record of holdings and content of archive material, which makes for fuller satisfaction of national economic requirements. Computers are also being used to elaborate a forward-looking programme for the development of Hungarian archives up to the year 2000, one of whose basic tasks is to raise the effectiveness of archive utilization for national economic purposes.
A considerable part of the work of archive institutions is represented by organization of the consultation of material in reading rooms, where national economic specialists are given every opportunity of obtaining exhaustive information on a given subject.
In all archives researchers are able to obtain photocopies and microfilms of material. Essential technical documentation, particularly when it comes in large format, is lent to institutions.
One way in which interested institutions and enterprises are notified of material on national economic subjects is the holding of meetings between archivists and national economic specialists. Archivists now deliver reports more frequently at meetings in scientific institutions and establishments and in enterprises.
Supplying society with the necessary documentary information nowadays requires the devising of new methods of information retrieval for archives, based on modern technology. For this purpose, an automated scientific and technological information system is being established in the Soviet Union, based on the central holdings catalogue of the principle archive of the USSR, together with an automated information retrieval system for the thematic entity 'Architecture and urban development of Moscow, Leningrad and their suburbs'.
Plans for the establishment of automated information retrieval are being actively worked out by Romanian archivists.
Study of the effectiveness of utilization of material. In making documentary information available, archival institutions take great interest in how the information is used and how effective it is. In this connection, account is taken of the interest shown by users in information material as reflected by orders for subsequent thematic amplification of holdings and for copies of material, the sending of specialists for work in archive reading rooms, and the utilization of archive material for preparing national economic plans, scientific studies, and so on.
Furthermore, Romanian archivists include among the criteria of effective utilization of material the growing attention given by institutions using archive material to the organization of their own departmental records.
Archive institutions of all countries of the socialist community regard study of the effectiveness of information work as an important link in the overall system of utilization of material. To this end, they conduct a periodical collection of information from institutions regarding the economic benefit derived from using documentary information in preparing projects for the reconstruction of communication infrastructures, hydrotechnological constructions and urban communication networks, and in the restoration of monuments of history and architecture, and so forth.
Interesting work in this direction has been conducted by archivists in the German Democratic Republic, who have gathered data on the effectiveness of utilization of archive material by ministries, departments and other national institutions over a number of years. In the case of the Freiberg branch of the Dresden State Archive, it has been confirmed on documentary evidence that the annual economic benefit accruing from the utilization of material from that archive alone averages 1.2 million ostmarks.
Archives in Bulgaria and the USSR send out to institutions, together with information documents, specially prepared questionnaires - with a request to complete and return them. On the basis of the information so obtained, Bulgarian archivists prepared scientific studies on the themes: 'The economic effect of utilization of technical documents in the practical work of institutions' and 'Assessing the effectiveness of utilization of archive material'.
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Work on the utilization of material in the interests of the national economy occupies a considerable place in the activity of all archival institutions of the countries of the socialist community. Archives provide party, State and economic organs and scientific institutions with retrospective information, which is of assistance in tackling a great many important practical tasks.
The problem of organizing retrospective information in the interests of economic, cultural and scientific development is nowadays becoming an all important matter for archival institutions. When organizing the utilization of archive material in the interests of the economy - for the purposes of planning, improving organizational structure and management methods and carrying out design and restoration work - archivists make their contribution to the socio-economic development of the socialist countries.
The work of archival institutions in meeting the requirements of the national economy regarding essential retrospective information has been recognized by party and government organs and by ministries, departments, institutions and enterprises. An ongoing task of archivists is to raise the scientific standard of information work, extend anticipatory information for institutions in the economic sector and put this work on a planned footing.
The efficacy of scientific information activity depends to a great extent on knowing retrospective information requirements, which makes it possible to meet not only existing but also potential demand. An important task therefore is to extend contacts and co-operation between archives and ministries and departments, research institutions and industry, chiefly at the work planning stage.
A by no means insignificant aspect is the establishment of feedback from users such as will enable archives to obtain advice in their investigation work concerning requisite retrospective information, and also in turn to provide systematic instruction for representatives of institutions in the economic sector in methods of utilizing archive material.
Questions of improving the work of archives are in a number of countries bound up also with the establishment in State archives of special sections or groups of personnel required to deal solely with the preparation of material to be used for economic purposes, this being the case in Bulgaria and Slovakia. Vietnamese archivists are proposing to discuss the desirability of upgrading archive workers by instructing them in a specific range of skills concerned with major branches of the economy or of involving specialists from economic branches in the work and familiarizing them with archive administration methods.
Of great importance for improving the information work of archives is research connected with elaborating new forward-looking forms and trends in the utilization of material, methods for studying the formation of society's requirements regarding archival information and the trends and patterns of their development.
Archival institutions are faced with a number of tasks concerning improvement of reference arrangements in regard to holdings and the establishment of new information retrieval systems. The successful completion of all these tasks will serve the further advancement of archive administration in the countries of the socialist community, in keeping with the present-day demands made of State archive services.
(Report presented to the VIIIth International Congress on Archives, Washington, D.C., 27 September-1 October 1976.)
The subjects chosen for the International Congress on Archives: "The Special Utility of Archives in Developing Countries" has raised numerous problems.
Concerning the topic, we have asked ourselves the following questions:
1. Can we speak of the special utility of archives in developing countries?
2. Are not the ends of an archival service the same in developing countries and in developed countries?
Concerning the preparation of our study, we were given the freedom to choose our method: to give an authoritative report of our conception of the role of an archival service in developing countries, or to use a questionnaire and then make a synthesis of the results.
We preferred the first method; nevertheless we called upon our colleagues in Senegal, Upper Volta, and Niger and asked them to give us their thoughts upon the subjects.
Only Senegal sent us a reply, and we extend our deepest thanks to our colleague, Mr. Mbaye, for sending us a few lines upon the subject, enabling us not to limit ourselves to the Ivory Coast's conception of archives and their role in the struggle for development.
One of the characteristics of developing countries is that they are faced with many problems occurring at the same time. In fact, these countries must not only make up for their delay, but also must keep up with technological progress in order to attain their objectives.
This special situation leads them to make relatively greater and more numerous efforts at the economic, social, and cultural level than advanced countries.
In order to carry out activities simultaneously in all these areas, under present conditions the developing countries have only one implement: the government. In fact, in the majority of these countries, the government, often still embryonic, is the only truly organized institution. For this reason, it is responsible for programming economic, social and cultural development.
The basis of administrative work is the management of records. This must be done consistently and efficiently. In fact, it must be done not only to avoid wasting time, money, and personnel resources, but also to do everything to ensure that the choices made by the people responsible are the best possible choices. The control of records cannot be achieved unless the people responsible have a complete understanding of how records are created. For this reason, in the developing countries, the archives constitute an inexhaustible source of information upon which the government can always draw.
Therefore, the government must turn to these sources of information in order to carry out their mission. The absence of national archival systems and intermediate records management systems handicaps the administrator, whereas a consistent system of records management and archives administration allows the administrator to contribute effectively to the economic, social, and cultural development of his country. Therefore, archives are an administrative tool and a preliminary necessity for planning national development.
These findings have led certain developing countries like the Ivory Coast to embark upon the utilization of "data processing", a computerized information retrieval system whose uses are related to the economic', scientific, and cultural aspects of development.
On the economic level, these countries have inherited the structures of the colonial economy. Therefore, agriculture was oriented toward the production of raw materials for exportation, whereas industry was devoted to the manufacture of current products. Today, these countries must concentrate upon the development and maximum utilization of agriculture as well as mined resources necessary in order to obtain the currencies provided by exports, and, in addition, to base modern transformation industries upon these resources.
The government is essentially concerned with economic research. The optimum development of the material and human potentialities of developing countries can only be carried out successfully to the extent that these countries' resources are estimated at their true value. Such an estimation implies that a large number of evaluation operations have been carried out successfully, operations which-can only be envisaged if archival documents conserved in the national depositories are available.
Planning constitutes a fine illustration of the role that archives are beginning to play within the framework of economic development. Planning is, in fact, giving consideration to the broad trends in economic, social, and cultural fields. Therefore, planning in itself is a way of organizing the present through a scientific study of the future. Nevertheless, in order to be realistic, planning must be based upon an evaluation of the country's situation which is as complete and as exact as possible. Such an evaluation can be prepared using studies of earlier developments of the amount of progress accomplished over the years in the different sectors of national life.
The information that allows planners to perceive significant trends is contained in archival documents, to which they must refer continuously. For example, working out the details of an industrialization program implies that a very complete examination of raw materials, labor, methods of transportation, cost prices, and markets has been made. This information - statistics, research carried out by the different government services... - puts the planners in a position to make a Judicious choice among the different industrial projects which have been proposed a priori.
This exam-pie of analysis based upon records, especially prepared by the government services responsible for planning, illustrates clearly how important the large amount of information contained in archival documents can be for situations related to economic development. And this development is only one field in which the archives can be of use.
In fact, while very useful for defining and guiding economic development, archives have uses that are no less important in scientific and cultural fields.
In fact, archives are in a position to make a specific contribution to national scientific research in developing countries. National scientific research did not begin with these countries' accession to independence.
For example, in the Ivory Coast, long before the creation of the ministry of scientific research, many research units were in existence:
- The Institute for research in cotton and foreign textiles
- The French Institute for research in fruits
- The French Institute for coffee and cocoa
- The Institute for research in oils and oil seeds, etc.
These institutes conducted various studies in the agricultural field, rightly considered as a basic element in a country's development. In many cases the new nations, when carrying out research, start from studies that were conducted during the colonial era. Conserving records of past experimentation makes it possible to avoid repeating experiments that are sometimes lengthy, difficult, and costly, and leads to appreciable savings of time and money.
On the cultural level in developing countries, it is the government's duty to give the people confidence by helping them to discover their national identity. In this case archives, containing source material indispensable for writing history, are again the privileged auxiliaries of the government.
If, in the majority of European nations, there is no problem of national consciousness, it is not the same for the majority of developing countries. Therefore, in these countries, writing history brings together and unifies seemingly disparate elements that actually arise from the same sources.
Because in many cases history makes it possible to avoid allowing ethnic problems to become an obstacle to the flowering of the country, archives, an unequalled source of materials for serial history, take part in development. The study of budgets, commerce records, and censuses is A fertile field for the statistical historian.
The history of daily life can be seen in a new light through the records of notaries and clerks which have been placed in the record centers of the developing countries.
Because archives make it possible for history to be written, they take part in development and have a special purpose in this field as well.
It is appropriate to refer to a passage from an article by Mr. Locou, Instructor at the Department of Literature of the University of Abidjan, entitled "African History in our time," in order to convince ourselves, if need be, of the special usefulness of archives, containing an unequalled source of historical materials that also take part in national development.
History cannot be simply an academic discipline, indifferent to the problems of development. Some people might be surprised to learn of the relationship between history, a study of society's past, and development, of ten understood to be the only form of material progress. We have moved away from this narrow and over-simple conception of development. Development is a global process of the transformation of society, that must be organized, directed, and maintained from within. Therefore, development implies national agents who are aware of this necessity.
Information and historical reflection are powerful factors in achieving a sense of consciousness; they develop the sense of, and the inclination for, collective action; they make it possible to understand the origin Or present problems, and not only in a concrete way through the examples they provide. Above all, in our countries that have suffered from the depersonalization brought about by colonial domination, history is the privileged instrument for countering alienation: the alienation of youth, the alienation of the people, who are able to shed the heavy burden of old prejudices and to free themselves from complexes accumulated over a long period of time through scientific enlightenment about their condition.
This effort at countering alienation must promote a sense of national consciousness, the acceleration of African unity, and the development of solidarity with other peoples. The restitution of our collective destiny must allow us to affirm our personality, and must liberate our creative initiatives. The diffusion of historical materials, and of the themes which flow from it, must enrich art, literature, and science. The economic, political, and cultural fall-out of all of these historical contributions is incalculable.
For these reasons, history and development are inseparable.
In this way, the archives in developing countries vill be encouraged to play the role of a genuine administrative documentation center, alloying both the collection of records and their management and diffusion at the national level.
So we must progress from a concept of archives, already outdated in developed countries, that has led to the perception of archives only as historically-oriented institutions of little value in development, to a more positive conception; for, henceforth, archives must play a dynamic national role through governmental documentation.
By the richness of records preserved in archives and the increased efficiency of the use of information retrieval, administrators will have an exceedingly useful tool at their disposal. But this possibility of having the archives play a more dynamic role in national development can only be effective if the administrators within the country consider the preservation of records important, as is emphasized in this passage from a speech given by the Secretary of State for the Interior of the Ivory Coast at a seminar on considerations about territorial administration (Yamoussokro, September 20 - October 20, 1974):
Another administrative activity no less important is the establishment and preservation of local archives. The struggle against underdevelopment, a mayor and legitimate concern of the government, encourages the administrator to devote all his efforts to concrete achievements, to seek tangible and visible results, to draw up tables and statistics measuring stresses and physical volumes, all preoccupations which, in many cases, lead this administrator to neglect and to forget other activities, seemingly less important, but equally necessary and important in national development. This is the case for archives.
Far from being an insignificant sector, archives can and must play a more dynamic role in development, provided that we think of them as a treasure of acquired knowledge and administrative experience, a wealth of information that is accessible for use as potential factors in administrative action in all areas of national development.
In this respect no record can better contribute to the understanding and appreciation of these possibilities than archives.
The administrator who turns to archives will grasp the problems he faces more quickly and more completely. He will save not only time but money, two things a developing country cannot allow itself to waste. Therefore, archives are far from being a luxury; they are a utilitarian means of support for a realistic development policy. For this reason, their management and maintenance in an appropriate location, by a person especially appointed for this task, must capture the attention and the interest of local officials.
This passage from the speech of the Secretary of State for the Interior of the Ivory Coast is a good illustration of the role that an archival agency can and must play in a developing country. Considered in this way, the archives becomes a means of support for national development, which is the source of its special usefulness in developing countries.