Justification for preservation is not only to preserve memory but also to enable access to these historical records. Reformatting is the copying of the information to a more stable and accessible format in order to provide access to the archival material without further physically endangering the originals. Digital conversion in particular furthers this objective by providing access to the same record to multiple users from anywhere (for as long as they have access to a computer and internet connection). While there is still a lot of debate regarding the implications of digital conversion, it still remains the most user-friendly as compared to other options such as microfilm etc.
Microfilm on the other hand is the tested and proven best practice when it comes to information preservation. Once the film is processed, it is impossible to alter it; and if kept under recommended conditions, it can last for up to 500 years. While it may not be user friendly in terms of access, it adds value by providing a stable surrogate which could be used as a backup and could also be used as evidence in a court of law (some countries do not accept digital records as evidence in a court of law).
Digitisation and microfilm also provide a good Business Continuity solution. Converted records could be stored off-site and these could be then used as replacement of originals where the original records are lost through disasters or natural ageing. Most support material and mediums tend to age even though this ageing process can be slowed down; it is best practice to copy the intellectual content to stable material to avoid total loss. A good example is nitrate based and acetate based films which do not only deteriorate with time but also pose a serious risk to other collections and human health. Obsolescence has been a major challenge for many heritage institutions and reformatting (to digital or film) is the best option available to preserving content stored on these obsolete formats. The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA) has an approved Digitisation Strategy. This strategy seeks to guide in the identification, prioritization and management of digitisation projects. In partnership with other stakeholders, the NARSSA has embarked on a few projects to digitise certain collections.