The most significant evidence of the intellectual and cultural
endeavours of mankind is contained in documents. They take many
forms, from papyri through parchment and paper to the modern electronic
documents. As with many other manmade artefacts, however,
documents are vulnerable and fragile. There is a significant danger
that a substantial number, part of the collective memory of mankind,
will be lost. Only a dramatic increase of effort will ensure the
survival of the documents kept in the repositories worldwide.
Preservation of the documents is not an aim in itself. It is,
however, a prerequisite for access to information, which
is itself a fundamental democratic right. The Memory of the WorldProgramme
is, therefore,working to promote the preservation of, and the
access to, the documentary heritage of mankind.
The first topic examined by the SubCommittee of Technology
was how to facilitate access to documents. The Sub-Committee made
several recommendations - especially for the consideration of
the use of digital techniques. These recommendations are currently
under review and will be reissued shortly together with
recommendations on the harmonization of access to electronic documents
within the Memory of the World Programme.
With this guide, the SubCommittee on Technology is addressing
the other important element of the Memory of the World Programme;
namely preservation. The guide gives an overview of the recommendations
and measures related to the issue of safeguarding the documentary
heritage. It is not attempting to deal in depth with all aspects
of preservation, but to provide a guide or pointer to standards,
recommended practices and reference literature related to the
basic topic of preservation of documents. The guide covers the
various information and data carriers in terms of their physical
nature - occasionally bridging the boundaries of different traditional
groupings of documents. An additional chapter deals with the strategic
aspects of capturing and safeguarding electronic documents and
publications although their physical preservation problems
are dealt with in the chapters for magnetic and optical media.
In order to keep pace with the technological development, especially
in the field of audiovisual and electronic documents, this guide
will be periodically updated.
The SubCommittee on Technology welcomes any comments and
SubCommittee on Technology