Recent Highlights from the IFLA Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres
12 January 2023
What are IFLA PAC Centres?
IFLA’s PAC Centres are hubs of knowledge for documentary heritage preservation and access – hosted in major institutions around the world. PAC Centres take initiative to identify and raise awareness of preservation and conservation issues within the library field.
Some areas on which PAC Centres focus their work include:
- Building relationships with national and regional authorities responsible for heritage collections, as well as the wider community, to increase understanding and support
- Working to identify and promote best practices and share information, examples, and specialist expertise that are relevant to practitioners at the local, regional, and international levels
- Assisting in disaster response efforts on which local/regional support and expert advise are needed
Through this network, they engage with IFLA HQ and with other PAC Centres to assist in capacity building and share information relevant to the global library field.
PAC Centre Highlights
Every year, PAC Centres provide a report of their activities in these areas and beyond. As we look ahead to a new year, we are delighted to celebrate just some of the activities carried out by IFLA PAC Centres over the past reporting period (2021-2022)!
Leading awareness raising activities
The National Library of Australia’s Collection Care, Digital Preservation and Social Media teams joined forces to take part in International Ask a Conservator Day and World Digital Preservation Day. The day resulted in more than 20 unique questions across all social media platforms, with 18,164 impressions and 268 engagements and great engagement on Twitter. Read more here.
Similarly, PAC North America, hosted at the Library of Congress organises an annual Preservation Week. In 2022, they hosted a number of webinars exploring projects being undertaken at the library. Watch recordings of the Preservation Week 2022 webinars here: https://www.loc.gov/preservation/outreach/presweek/index_presweek.html
PAC Qatar, hosted by Qatar National Library, created an educational video series on preservation and conservation, offering an introduction to the disciple and to the IFLA PAC Network in English and Arabic. You can watch and share this video series on YouTube: QNL Educational Preservation and Conservation Series.
PAC Qatar also participated in broader celebrations of culture. As Doha was named the Capital of Culture in the Islamic World for 2021, PAC Qatar organised a webinar on the important role of libraries in preserving Islamic cultural heritage, in collaboration with the Islamic World Organisation for Education, Science, and Culture (ISESCO) and the Qatari Ministry of Culture and Sports. Watch here in English and in Arabic.
Sharing expert information and advice
PAC Centres identify key topics in the field of documentary heritage preservation and conservation and provide information to raise awareness and build capacity in these areas.
The National Diet Library of Japan’s 32nd Preservation Forum covered the theme “Disaster preparedness for library materials”. This Forum included trainings and discussion on topics such as dealing with water-damaged materials. More information can be found here.
Digitisation / Digital Preservation
Throughout 2022, the IFLA PAC Centre hosted at the National Library of Poland offered a series of ten webinars which explored different aspects of carrying out digitisation projects. These webinars provide information to libraries and other institutions who are at the very early stages of implementing a digitisation strategy, or who want to improve on their ongoing projects.
Topics include strategic approaches to project planning, budgeting and designing workflows, technical basics for digital preservation, and more.
Find all of the webinars here: IFLA PAC Open Webinars on Digitisation.
Responding to emergencies and countering trafficking
Following the outbreak of war in Ukraine in 2022, PAC Poland and the National Library of Poland provided support to Ukrainian institutions at their request.
PAC Qatar launched an observatory of the documentary heritage situation in the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) region. For key countries, this observatory will follow the political context, legal situation and cultural heritage protection laws, and the state of preservation of heritage collections. It will make note of key contacts and stakeholders, catalogues of documentary heritage collections, and other references that are important for decision-making regarding at-risk documentary heritage and emergency response.
For an example of emergency response, PAC Qatar engaged stakeholders such as ambassadors and special representatives in a meeting on Afghan heritage protection. The PAC Centre is involved in projects with partners such as the Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ARCH) to share information on looting and trafficking of cultural property and monitor the evolving situation in Afghanistan.
PAC Qatar also continues the Himaya Project, which launched in 2020 to counter the theft and illicit trafficking of documentary heritage in the region. In support of this project, they have organised webinars which have included a high-level panel discussion, an online conference, and an e-course on art trafficking with a focus on manuscripts. They are further developing a project with the Qatar Computer Research Institute to use a content management system to aggregate and better monitor web postings relating to the sale of manuscripts and other articles.
Building Local and Regional Capacity
IFLA PAC Centres work with institutions and other stakeholders involved in preservation and conservation at a national and regional level to share information and expertise targeting regional context and challenges.
For example, PAC Sri Lanka, hosted by the National Library and Documentation Service Board of Sri Lanka engaged a wide range of stakeholders in lectures and workshops. These included a workshop on palm leaf manuscripts offered for Buddhist monks, a lecture on conservation and preservation for prison rehabilitation officers across the country, and a workshop on Conservation and Preservation for government officers.
The PAC Centre hosted at the National Library of Kazakhstan maintains a close relationship with the National Libraries of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, as well as other regional organizations involved in the preservation and preservation of documentary heritage. They host regular knowledge exchange meetings, such as a master class on restoring and repairing Central Asian book bindings.
PAC Centres in East Asia also have maintained a relationship with one another, with the directors of directors of the PAC Centres hosted at the National Library of China and National Library of Korea joining the National Diet Library for an online information-exchange and coordination meeting. Read more here.
Qatar National Library carried out a number of projects in the MENA region to support preservation and conservation in memory institutions. In particular, the library worked with the Sudan National Archives and Sudan House of Heritage on two projects to support the preservation and digitisation of heritage in the Arab region. Activities included training for staff and carrying out digitisation and awareness raising projects.
They have further engaged in activities aimed at preserving the audio-visual heritage of the MENA region, including with partners from the Sudan Institute of African and Asian Studies and the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA).
Developing New Materials and Resources
As a part of their work to share knowledge, PAC Centres use their expertise to develop new resources that can be beneficial both for professionals in their countries and regions, as well as for practitioners around the world.
Over the previous years, PAC South Africa, hosted at the National Library of South Africa, has created preservation and conversation procedure manuals, a procedure manual for the digitisation of documentary heritage collections, and guidelines on topics such as deacidification, bookbinding, and book repair.
The National Library of Poland’s 10-webinar series on carrying out digitisation projects is an excellent example of an output that will act as a helpful resource for libraries of all sizes and levels of capacity.
PAC Sri Lanka has used their specific expertise on pest and insect control to develop and publish guidelines on managing insects and pests in libraries and archives in Sri Lanka, with the assistance of the Conservation and Preservation Advisory Committee of National Library of Sri Lanka.
PAC Japan developed a new training video on disaster preparedness for library materials, which was released on the NDL’s YouTube channel in 2022.
A number of the National Library of Australia’s preservation policies and guidelines were developed over the past 1-1/2 years, including their Collection Care and Preservation policy, the Physical Collection Emergency Response Procedures, and the Illumination of Collection Item on Display policy. The next step to be carried out by the PAC Centre is to make these documents available to access externally for reference.
Engaging with National, Regional and International Partners
A great example of how PAC Centres can engage with partners can be found in PAC Sri Lanka’s work on the UNESCO Memory of the World programme. In 2022, the centre worked with national institutions to prepare nominations of important Sri Lankan documents for the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register, including working on a joint nomination, which requires international cooperation.
PAC Kazakhstan has built strong ties with colleagues in Uzbekistan and conducted joint classes on ink research in manuscripts. The centre also provides support for publishing articles by restorers from other countries in the magazine published in the National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
PAC South Africa maintains relationships with colleagues in Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, Mozambique, and Angola. Activities in this regard have included workshops on digitisation in Nairobi, and assistance provided to the National Archives and Library of Swaziland with the digitisation of Swaziland historical newspapers.
PAC Japan is active in networks related to national emergency response, such as the Executive Council of Japanese Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network, which comprises of members of the former Cultural Property Rescue Program for areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
PAC Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, and Australia joined a number of IFLA’s experts and volunteers from the Asia-Oceania region for a Regional Workshop held in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2022. Directors of these PAC Centres spoke with representatives of the Culture and Communication and Information Sectors of UNESCO Bangkok to share how the work of their PAC Centres and identify opportunities for future cooperation.
Finally, several PAC Centre directors attended the World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) 2022 in Dublin, Ireland in July 2022. This forum provided an opportunity to engage with one another, as well as with other relevant IFLA committees, including the Advisory Committee on Cultural Heritage and the Regional Council. These opportunities for exchange across IFLA’s network help to integrate cultural heritage preservation and access, including regional contexts, challenges, and opportunities, into the work of IFLA at the international level.
Stay tuned in 2023 for more updates from the PAC Centre network. Find out more about the network, including how to get in touch with each PAC Centre, here: IFLA PAC Centre Network.
Contact IFLA HQ with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org