Archives constitute the organized body of records produced or received by public or semipublic institutions in the course of the transaction of their affairs. Preservation of archives over centuries is important for its value to research and as a part of the cultural heritage. Over periods of decades such preservation, particularly through periods of warfare, is important as a means of resolving a wide variety of claims. In time of war the cost of protection and preservation is such that much valuable material has to be destroyed or deteriorates for lack of proper attention. Adequate archival facilities are needed throughout the developing world although, over the past five years, twelve new functional national archives buildings have been inaugurated (Malaysia, Mexico, Botswana, Tanzania, Brazil, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, etc). Conservation and rehabilitation of vast accumulations of archives dating back to the XVIth and XVIIth centuries in countries like Mexico, Indonesia and the Philippines would require exceptional financial efforts for developing more efficient techniques and the training of conservationists. It is in near-tropical and tropical countries where archival document deterioration is in most need of alleviation.
More than 3,600,000 books were destroyed by fire and water in February, 1988 when the library of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union at Leningrad burned down. Many pre-revolutionary volumes cannot be replaced.