Preservation of Information

Universal access to information is a prerequisite for building knowledge societies. Throughout history, libraries and archives have been the guardians of the documentary heritage of humankind.

But in a world increasingly being shaped by digital technologies, the traditional guardian institutions (libraries, archives and museums) are challenged to keep pace with the rapid growth in information. 

They also face a new challenge: as technology advances the stability and lifespan of documents is considerably decreasing. If nothing is done, many important documents in electronic format will not survive or will become completely inaccessible within a very short time. The result will be a permanent loss to the collective memory of humankind. This challenge needs to be tackled urgently and the costs of preserving digital information should not be underestimated - these far exceed the preservation costs experienced to date with five millennia of traditional documents. 

Digital preservation also contributes to at least two other IFAP priorities - information for development and information accessibility. Digital technologies open up access to information and knowledge in democratic dimensions that have never been experienced before. 

This priority area will be predominantly executed by strengthening the underlying principles and concepts of the Memory of the World Programme, beyond its registers, which serve as catalysts to alert decision makers, and the public at large.

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