Documentary Heritage Making a Difference
23 November 2022
UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MoW) Programme celebrated its 30th anniversary from 27 October – 5 November 2022. This programme seeks to ensure that the documentary heritage of the world is preserved, protected, and accessible – for people now and in the future. This ambition is expressed in the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation on the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage including in Digital Form (2015 Recommendation) [PDF], which defines documentary heritage as objects which contain analogue or digital information, such as books, manuscripts, archives and audio-visual content.
Documentary heritage can have a real impact on informing our decisions, enhancing social cohesion, and nurturing respect for cultural diversity and multilingualism. It is critical that this material is preserved and made accessible for future generations, but equally important that its value for society is realised today. That is why the theme for the MoW 30th Anniversary celebration is “enlisting documentary heritage to promote inclusive, just and peaceful societies”.
To help celebrate, IFLA is dedicating our November newsletter to Documentary Heritage in order to explore this theme in more depth. Our IFLA Sections have provided input, in the form of statements on the topic and examples of this theme in action
Documentary Heritage Informing Policy Making
Parliament of Ghana library
IFLA Environment, Sustainability and Libraries (ENSULIB) Standing Committee Member and Librarian at the Parliament of Ghana, Amanda Delali Fie, discusses the role of preservation in information transmission in Parliamentary Libraries.
The preservation of parliamentary documents plays a crucial role in enabling the transmission of evidence-based information from one era to the other. It allows future generations to comprehend history and build on it.
The Parliament of Ghana Library is the custodian of various types of documents such as act, bills, agreements, reports, newspapers, etc., and is accessible to members of parliament, staff, and researchers, who can update themselves with information for plenary and debates. These documents are collated and bound for preservation.
Read more about how the Parliament of Ghana library works to preserve and provide access to the memory of the Parliament of Ghana here.
Documentary Heritage Transmitting Local Memory, History and Identity
Access to Local History and Genealogy Resources
Cherie Bush, Chair of the IFLA Local History and Genealogy Section shares how the Section’s work contributes to documenting the heritage of the world through sharing collections, best practices, and stories.
The Section works with genealogical associations, libraries, archives, and universities to document, provide access to, and preserve local history and genealogy records and collections. The section continues to engage diverse communities in research and dialogue about their history and heritage, ensuring identity and memory can be celebrated and transmitted to future generations.
Find out more about how the Local History and Genealogy Section helps share best practices for the preservation of local memory here.
The Roma Library of Malmö and the Roma Resource Library of Sweden
Since 1999, the Roma people have been protected in Sweden by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and from 2000 Sweden has national legislation giving the Roma people and the language Romani chib equal rights to, for instance, library services. The Swedish library act has appointed the group as a prioritized user group. In dialogue with the Roma population, a groundbreaking development has been initiated at Libraries of Malmö to establish a Roma Library. This long-awaited aspiration of the community is taking place right now in Malmö. Elisabet Rundqvist of the National Library of Sweden and Sebastian Tarazona, Libraries of Malmö, and members of the IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations (MCULTP) Section discuss the importance of connecting these two libraries.
In 2021 a municipal political decision was taken to initiate a Roma Library within the City Library of Malmö. The first actions by the Libraries of Malmö were to start an open dialogue process with the Roma Communities in the area, and to hire a full-time coordinator for the Roma Library as a permanent position.
In 2022 Bagir Kwiek, former Roma reading ambassador for Swedish Arts Council and former executive officer at the National Library of Sweden (KB), was hired as the coordinator for the Roma Library in Malmö. An open call was made to form a working group from the Roma communities, to contribute with perspectives and ideas for how to create the Roma Library.
Read more about the next steps towards the creation of a permanent national Roma Resource Library here.
Born Digital News Media
There’s a saying in journalism, that the news is “the first rough draft of history.”* As such, the news in its many forms–print, online, broadcast– becomes the first fixed work describing the events of the world. For a couple of centuries now, newspapers have been the primary daily record of events that libraries could offer, whether as bound volumes of newspapers, microfilm copies, and more recently, digital scanning technology.
IFLA’s News Media Section seeks to help inform librarians around the world of the “[b]est practices for capture of, access to, and preservation of news media in all forms,” as stated in our Scope of Interest statement. Newspapers traditionally were formed around a sense of community, whether a town, a city, or distinctive language or ethnic group. Preserving access to news media content is a way we can help to preserve the documentary heritage of those communities.
One major issue facing the preservation of News Media that of ensuring “born digital” news content remains accessible. Find out more about how the News Media Section is approaching this issue here.
Documentary Heritage Contributing to resilience building
Statement on Documentary Heritage from the Preservation and Conservation Section
The UNESCO Memory of the World has an exciting theme for its thirtieth anniversary celebration of “Enlisting documentary heritage to promote inclusive, just and peaceful societies.” Documentary heritage is a critical element for libraries and our digital age. Understanding the past gives us a solid footing for the present. Historical documents come from the local, regional, or country level.
The IFLA Preservation and Conservation Section focuses on the preservation of and access to the world’s documentary heritage. It provides an international forum for all types of libraries to exchange, develop, and share knowledge and experience.
Read the Preservation and Conservation Section’s full statement on the Memory of the World Programme’s anniversary and learn more about their work here.
Documentary heritage opening a window to the world
World Day for Audiovisual Heritage
On 27 October 2022, UNESCO, together with Cultural Heritage Institutions around the world, gathered at UNESCO headquarters in Paris online virtually to celebrate the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage in tandem with the 30th Anniversary of the Memory of the World Programme. The theme for the 2022 World Day was “Your Window to the World,” which was conjoined with UNESCO’s 30th Anniversary Memory of the World theme of “Enlisting the documentary heritage to promote inclusive, just and peaceful societies.”
In this article, Anna Bohn, Gregory Lukow, and Chair, Monique Threatt, of IFLA’s Audiovisual and Multimedia Section discuss the importance of restoration, digitisation and long-term preservation of audiovisual heritage here Learn more about The World Day for Audiovisual Heritage and how preserving audiovisual material is critical for safeguarding the memory of the world here.
Qatar Digital Libraries
Art libraries and art librarians have long endeavored to preserve, protect, and make accessible the treasures and expressions of humanity that have been collected in our respective institutions. The IFLA Art Libraries Section recognize and value the history and future of mankind which finds a voice through creative expression. It is an honor to foster connection between heritage objects and the people that we serve.
UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme’s 30th anniversary is an excellent time to state that the members of IFLA’s Art Libraries Section stand in solidarity with the ideals and values of this initiative. The preservation and access to documentary heritage in digital formats breathes new life into expressions of language, culture, thought, and events in our shared world. Responsibly stewarding documentary heritage in the digital realm brings with it the promise of broad access from remote locations, and alternative preservation to original items and objects that may–with time and events–become damaged, lost, or stolen.
Discover examples of how digitised documentary heritage collections can bring people together beyond geographic boarders here.
Find out more about how documentary heritage can help promote inclusive, just and peaceful societies. Read the 30th Anniversary of the Memory of the World Programme commemorative statement.