IFAP encourages Governments to give more priority to the preservation of information
"Over 80% of the world's audiovisual collections referring to cultural and linguistic diversity are not in professional care" observed the information preservation specialists who participated in the Thematic Debate of UNESCO's Information for All Programme (IFAP) at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris on 3 April 2007.
Within the framework of their 12th meeting, the members of the IFAP Bureau took a closer look at the challenges and imperatives of information preservation, particularly in the context of the digital age.
Our ancestors did not need to do anything special to preserve papyrus- or parchment- based content, which have preserved themselves for millennia, but digital content is unlikely to survive 10 years. This is not necessarily because of carrier degradation, but more likely to be because of format obsolescence. "In the digital age, if we do nothing to preserve information, we will lose everything" affirmed Dietrich Schüller, Vice-President of the IFAP Council and Audiovisual Archive Specialist.
Through the debate, IFAP took a further step on clarifying the role that Governments can play in developing pro-active policies and in setting priorities for preserving information. Digital information in particular requires constant and ongoing attention.
"Trusted information repositories are not just memories of the world but also provide authentic, complete and reliable information as well as evidence for good government" stressed Laurence Zwimpfer, Chair of the IFAP Council. The discussions encouraged Governments to recognise that access to information is an asset and that preservation increases the value of this asset. Recognising that resources will always be limited, Governments were urged to take advice from information preservation professionals to set priorities and make choices about what to preserve.
Preservation is not an aim in itself; but an indispensable pre-requisite for enabling the world's citizens to access information and use it. Promoting and protecting information through access and preservation are amongst the key concerns of the Information for All Programme.
The Information for All Programme was launched in 2001 to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the Information Society. It works as an advocate for people disconnected and disempowered by the information divide.
The "Key messages for Governments and industry" as well as the proceedings of the thematic debate are available <a href="http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=24429&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html">here</a>.