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There has been a growing concern from archives services in the region that much of the regionís archival resources were hugely underexploited and required basic cataloguing in order to make them available to users. This concern has been reflected across the country through national reports and scoping exercises that are reviewed in section 2. The heads of the regionís 6 principal document based archive repositories felt that the problem was significant and needed to be tested. They felt that without adequate documentation of the collections, they could not:
- provide effective access
- offer users, particularly in formal education, the opportunity to use archives for learning
- develop strategies to widen the scope of their services to encourage non-users and to reach culturally diverse communities in particular
- ensure effective physical preservation of collections
- comply effectively with legislation such as the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts.
Encompassing all these prohibiting factors was the notion that in business terms archive services were not in a position to manage there assets effectively if there did not know what they held. EMCat was conceived as a first step in unlocking these hidden assets.