Libraries and Archives

© P. Sobocinski

Libraries and archives are essential to the free flow of ideas and to maintaining, increasing and spreading knowledge. Their focus is on content, not format, as human knowledge has been recorded on different medium: stone, paper, film, videotape, DVD. Long-term preservation is necessary to safeguard this knowledge, ensure accountability, and protect basic human rights but faced with the digital revolution a preservation paradigm is evolving. UNESCO's objective is to ensure the safeguard of all forms of recording and storing human thought and expression.

UNESCO and Libraries

Libraries are essential to the free flow of ideas and to maintaining, increasing and spreading knowledge. As repositories of books and other printed material, they are key to promote reading and writing. UNESCO promotes the work of libraries since 60 years.

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.
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Building Libraries' Capacity

Having traditionally supported the strengthening of the institutional capacity of libraries as gateways to information, UNESCO continues to assist them to acquire appropriate technologies and network resources. Training programmes are being developed with specially-designed training materials to meet the needs of library staff. The UNESCO Network of Associated Libraries (UNAL) grouping 450 members in 90 countries is supported to play an enhanced role in this context.

UNESCO Network of Associated Libraries (UNAL)

UNAL is a network of public and community libraries. It aims at encouraging the libraries to conduct information dissemination at grass-roots level, making appropriate use of ICT.

UNAL was established in 1990 to promote co-operation among public libraries to build international understanding and to establish contacts between libraries of the North and of the South.

UNAL's principal objective is to encourage libraries that are open to the public to undertake activities in UNESCO’s fields such as the promotion of human rights and peace, cultural dialogue, protection of the environment, fight against illiteracy, etc. Over 500 libraries around the world are members of the Network. >> Read more

An essential element of the strategy is the integration of libraries into information, media and information literacy programmes. Libraries provide resources and services in an environment that fosters free and open inquiry and serve as a catalyst for the interpretation, integration, and application of knowledge in all fields of learning.

Building the capacity of libraries requires a continuous process of improving the knowledge and skills of the professionals who work within them, as well as widening the general knowledge and awareness of users. It is essential that information specialists have access to training, continuing education and lifelong learning.

Information Processing Tools

CDS/ISIS Database Software
Micro CDS/ISIS is an advanced non-numerical information storage and retrieval software developed by UNESCO since 1985 to satisfy the need expressed by many institutions, especially in developing countries, to be able to streamline their information processing activities by using modern (and relatively inexpensive) technologies.
WINISIS is the Windows version of CDS/ISIS, software that provides facilities for storing documents electronically and for advanced information retrieval. CDS/ISIS is used worldwide for managing databases in libraries and information centres.

Greenstone Digital Library Software
Greenstone is a suite of software for building and distributing digital library collections. It provides a new way of organizing information and publishing it on the Internet or on CD-ROM. Greenstone is produced by the New Zealand Digital Library project at the University of Waikato, and distributed in cooperation with UNESCO and the Humanity Libraries Project. It is open-source software, available under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Preserving Library Collections

The world’s documentary heritage constitutes a major part of mankind’s memory and reflects the diversity of peoples, languages and cultures. A major part of this heritage is stored in libraries. Through the Memory of the World Programme and other initiatives such as the Digital Silk Road Project, UNESCO has played a leading role in preserving information and communication contents and in optimizing access to them.

In particular, UNESCO encouraged the elaboration of strategies to facilitate the digitization of librarian collections; it also promoted and disseminated the International Charter for the Preservation of Digital Heritage adopted at the 32nd session of the General Conference of UNESCO in October 2003.

 

UNESCO and Archives

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.
>> Read more

 

Audiovisual archives

This Programme seeks to preserve the audiovisual heritage comprising film, television and sound recordings.
The adoption by the UNESCO General Conference in October 1980 of the Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images marked a historic moment when film, television and sound recordings became officially recognized and defined as part of the national cultural heritage in the same way textual information had been regarded for centuries.

UNESCO objective is the development of audiovisual archival infrastructure, trained professionals and accepted professional reference points to ensure the safeguard and preservation of the audiovisual heritage of humanity.

Working in close cooperation with the seven NGOs which make up the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA), the Organization supports the production policy statements and position papers on key issues such as copyright, legislation and technical standards; promotes the exchange of information on audiovisual issues and implements projects in support of audiovisual archiving throughout the world. >> Read more

 

WebWorld Portals on Libraries and Archives

UNESCO is the only organization in a position to bring together various users of knowledge, such as librarians, archivists, teachers, researchers, etc. In this context, an online platform is being used both as a collaborative learning and working tool and a backbone for the implementation of UNESCO's communication strategy.

In the framework of this strategy, UNESCO's Communication and Information Sector developed four Internet based gateways amongst them the Archives Portal and the Libraries Portal. These two services have been restructured and redesigned to better meet the needs of their respective communities.

Visit the Portals and take part in their interactive services:

Libraries Portal

The UNESCO Libraries Portal gives access to websites of libraries around the world. It is also a gateway to resources related to preservation and digitization of librarian collections and to international co-operation in this area.
>> Go to the website

Archives Portal

The UNESCO Archives Portal gives access to websites of archival institutions around the world. It is also a gateway to resources related to records and archives management and to international co-operation in this area. >> Go to the website

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