27 July 2017

Preserving Everyone’s Heritage – IFLA Holds Workshop on Palm Leaf Manuscript Preservation

Palm Leaf Manuscript, National Library of Sri Lanka

Palm Leaf Manuscript Workshop, 6-7 July, National Library of Sri Lanka

While tools and standards for preservation are advanced for materials like books, this is not the case everywhere. As a result, when a community’s cultural heritage is on other materials, such as palm leaf manuscripts, it is harder for libraries, both individually and as a network, to pursue their public interest missions.

If we are to realise Target 11.4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – safeguarding cultural heritage – to the benefit of all, there is a pressing need for progress in this field.

Responding to this challenge, IFLA organised a workshop on 6-7 July in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Experts from around the world brought not only their experience of preserving manuscripts, but also their ideas and suggestions for how to develop a common meta-data scheme. This will both facilitate collaboration, and crucially facilitate effective conservation and archiving efforts.

Discussions proved that much useful work is already taking place, but with relatively little coordination between activities from one country to the next. By promoting cooperation, it will become possible to share best practices and establish standards which will enhance the work of libraries across the world.

Much work remains to do, but with a network of experts now established, IFLA and its members are well placed to make progress on this important dossier. We are grateful to the National Library of Sri Lanka for their support both in setting up the workshop and in supporting its follow up.

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