Libraries and Archives in Brazil

© Flickr/Marcio Cabral de Moura
National Library - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Libraries and Archives are essential components of any strategy aimed at improving information access, both for the public at large and for specialised groups. Since its creation, UNESCO has contributed to the reinforcement of these types of services.

The development of information technologies, and in particular the Internet, has created a completely new environment in which the role of traditional information services must be thoroughly revised. The potential of networking, cooperation and digitisation modify substantially the functions of acquiring, storing and disseminating information and knowledge. Here, special attention must be paid to the least developed countries so that they do not lag behind technological advances.

International Programmes

The Records and Archives Management Programme - RAMP, established in 1979, aims at:

  • Making the general public and decision-makers aware of the importance of records and archives for planning and development safeguarding of the national heritage;
  • Assisting Member States in the establishment of efficient records and archives management infrastructures through standardization , archival legislation, training, and enhancing infrastructure (buildings and equipment);
  • Promoting international debates on main issues in the archival field.

UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992. Impetus came originally from a growing awareness of the parlous state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world.War and social upheaval, as well as severe lack of resources, have worsened problems which have existed for centuries. Significant collections worldwide have suffered a variety of fates. Looting and dispersal, illegal trading, destruction, inadequate housing and funding have all played a part. Much as vanished forever; much is endangered. Happily, missing documentary heritage is sometimes rediscovered.

  • The vision of the Memory of the World Programme is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.

UNESCO and 32 partner institutions launched on April 21, 2009 the World Digital Library, a website that features unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world. The site includes manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, prints and photographs. It provides unrestricted public access, free of charge, to this material.

  • UNESCO promotes the free flow of all forms of knowledge in education, science, culture and communication. Libraries have always been part of UNESCO’s work in promoting universal access to knowledge.
  • The Organization is particularly committed to support the World Digital Library to expand and grow worldwide, since it promotes education, research and exchanges through the improved and increased availability of content on the Internet.
  • UNESCO’s efforts to harness the power of knowledge and information to foster development and to avoid knowledge divide, which refers to the gaps that exist in the four building blocks of Knowledge Societies, namely knowledge creation, knowledge preservation, and knowledge sharing and knowledge application. Libraries, especially digital libraries, are truly at the heart of Knowledge Societies; they enable people to access, share and apply knowledge.
Back to top