Preserving and providing access to records and archives are some of the major reasons for the existence of archives. The need to preserve records and archives arises from their format, the environment in which they are stored, and frequent handling and use. While archivists are aware of the preservation challenges they face in the management of records, their major dilemma lies in choosing an appropriate preservation method. A variety of products available in the market claim to provide preservation solutions as well as guaranteed continued access to archives. However, microfilming and digitisation are the two widely used reformatting products. The choice of the reformatting strategies has a profound impact on how archival institutions manage and deliver information. The issues at stake are: Can digitisation be used as a tool for the preservation of archives in Sub-Saharan Africa? Will microfilm become obsolete?
It is evident that until feasible solutions to preserving long-term access to digital documents are developed, microfilming will remain the most appropriate preservation strategy for archivists, especially, in the developing countries. These expensive digitisation projects are often impeded by scarce resources and scant research in digital preservation. Presently, digital conversion seems to be attractive only in terms of enhancing access to documents.
(African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science: 2002 12 (2): 117-132)