Retrospective conversion of catalogues is currently being undertaken by increasing numbers of libraries. In the UK, the Follett Implementation Group on information Technology (FIGIT) recently commissioned a study to assess the justification for a national programme in the higher education sector. An outline of the study and the main recommendations of the report submitted to FIGIT are given. A Literature survey which was part of the study has been expanded to a discussion of aspects of the subject and the information available in the literature. The discussion looks first at the literature in general and notes a lack of material on the situation in particular countries, including the UK. Local, national and international aspects are considered and the benefits summarised. The usefulness of quoted costs of completed or in hand projects is compared with a cost model for estimating costs in advance, and priorities for the allocation of funds are examined. While only printed materials were considered in the study, the need for retroconversion to be extended to non book materials is noted. There are also wider implications for record standards and their applications and the ''ownership'' of records from the extended access to records and collections.