Revealing the invisible: The need for retrospective conversion in the virtual future
Chapman, A., 2000. Revealing the invisible: The need for retrospective conversion in the virtual future. Alexandria: The Journal of National and International Library and Information Issues, 12 (1), pp. 33-43.
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Libraries, archives and museums act as memory organizations, recording and providing access to a range of knowledge and information. In an age of increasing access to information via electronic methods, they support lifelong learning, as well as national and international goals in support of the rights of individuals to education, leisure, health and employment. The provision of new methods of accessing catalogues from a distance is severely compromised if the catalogues accessed do not record the complete stock of their institutions, and therefore the retrospective conversion of catalogues is of increasing relevance today. Items for which there are no electronic records effectively become invisible to potential users. The retrospective conversion of catalogues still in manual forms has been a goal since electronic versions were first installed, but the extent to which it has been achieved has been governed largely by financial considerations. Recent studies in the UK have revealed the extent of missing data in the electronic catalogues of libraries and archives. Some retrospective conversion is being carried out as and when funding becomes available, but progress is erratic and piecemeal, without reference to a national overview. To address this problem, a national strategy for the UK has been developed and will be taken forward by a newly formed Implementation Group.
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