» The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates hosts a PERSIST meeting on digital heritage preservation
16.03.2016 - Communication & Information Sector

The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates hosts a PERSIST meeting on digital heritage preservation


Digital information is fundamentally reshaping the production, dissemination, use and re-use of information and knowledge in society. In order to play a prominent role within the knowledge society, heritage institutions are investing in digital preservation methods and technologies to ensure long-term accessibility to their digital collections and holdings.

Under the aegis of UNESCO, the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates, convened a three-day expert meeting (14-16 March 2016) to deliberate on emerging digital preservation challenges and potential risks of losing long-term accessibility to a part of our digital heritage. Fostering a high-level dialogue among heritage institutions, governments and industry on digital preservation issues is the core objective of the PERSIST project (Platform to Enhance the Sustainability of the Information Society Transglobally), as part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. PERSIST is a joint initiative of UNESCO, International Council of Archives (ICA) and International Federation of Libraries Association (IFLA). The project has three main focus areas, namely to develop content selection guidelines, to provide technology obsolescence solutions and to raise awareness about the role of digital preservation strategies.

Dr Abdulla El-Reyes, Director-General of the National Archives, who is currently Chair of the International Advisory Committee of the Memory of the World Programme, emphasized the importance of the PERSIST project as providing a solid platform for heritage institutions for discussing digital preservation formats of the past, the present and the future and finding appropriate solutions.

The Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Communication and Information, Mr Frank La Rue, stressed the importance of the standard-setting instrument, adopted recently by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2015, which could potentially become an essential tool in the harmonization of practice in this particular field and serve to enhance international cooperation to facilitate preservation of, and access to documentary heritage as well as the exchange of advanced preservation techniques. 

The meeting is attended by more than 30 eminent digital preservation experts from national libraries and archives from UK, the Netherlands, Japan, China, Singapore, Australia, Canada, US and Denmark. The PERSIST meeting  has an ambitious agenda to seek  potential solutions to various current problems faced in the field of digital archiving, discuss policies issues and establishment of a software repository platform.

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