Engaging with the UNESCO Memory of the World (MoW) International Register is a practical way to join the global effort to enhance awareness and support for the preservation of and access to documentary heritage.

Following a period of review, UNESCO has once again announced they are accepting nominations for materials of world and historical significance to be added to the MoW International Register.

The deadline to submit a nomination for the 2022-2023 cycle is: 30 November 2021.

UNESCO Memory of the World

Since 1992, UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme has been working towards the goal of preventing the irrevocable loss of collective memory through the protection of documentary heritage in all forms.

MoW operates at three levels: international, national, and regional. At each level, committees can establish a public register to raise awareness of the need for documentary heritage preservation.

The International Register, as well as National and Regional Registers, draw the attention of decision makers and the general public to the importance of ensuring the preservation of and access to documentary heritage materials.

Discover the Memory of the World International Register here.

Submitting Nominations

View the call for nominations for more information on the process of submitting a nomination.

Why Libraries?

Libraries hold collections of documentary heritage materials that are often unique and of great universal value to our collective memory. Material held in libraries has a natural place on the MoW Register!

What sort of material could be nominated?

Documentary heritage can include a variety of materials, including visual, audio, paper, digital, and more. Material of world significance is the primary criterion for inclusion on the MoW International Register. To be considered of world significance, the material must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Historical significance: what does the documentary heritage tell us in relation to the history of the world?
  • Form and style significance: does its significance lie in the physical nature of the documentary heritage?
  • Social, community or spiritual significance: is it significant to a particular group?

Further, admissible materials must be finite and precisely defined and the nominator must be able to speak to the material’s authenticity and integrity.

Please review the UNESCO MoW General Guidelines for more detailed instructions.

Who can submit nominations? 

Any person or organisation, with the prior written consent of the owners or custodians, may submit nominations  through their National Commission for UNESCO or, in the absence of a National Commission, the relevant government body in charge of relations with UNESCO. Nominators are also encouraged to involve national Memory of the World committees where possible [source].

If you have material in mind that you are interested in nominating, we encourage you to contact your national library association, which can help you reach your National Commission for UNESCO  to begin working towards a nomination.

How to complete a nomination  

Nominations must be submitted before 30 November 2021, and can be submitted in one of three ways:

  1. via UNESCO’s online platform
  2. by filling out the International Register nomination form and sending it to the Memory of the World Secretariat by email: mowsecretariat@unesco.org
  3. by filling out the nomination form and sending it by mail [find the address here]

IFLA is here to support you! Contact us with questions: claire.mcguire@ifla.org