Documentary Heritage Making a Difference

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UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MoW) Programme  celebrated its 30th anniversary from 27 October – 5 November 2022. This programme seeks to ensure that the documentary heritage of the world is preserved, protected, and accessible – for people now and in the future. This ambition is expressed in the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation on the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage including in Digital Form (2015 Recommendation) [PDF], which defines documentary heritage as objects which contain analogue or digital information, such as books, manuscripts, archives and audio-visual content.

Documentary heritage can have a real impact on informing our decisions, enhancing social cohesion, and nurturing respect for cultural diversity and multilingualism. It is critical that this material is preserved and made accessible for future generations, but equally important that its value for society is realised today. That is why the theme for the MoW 30th Anniversary celebration is “enlisting documentary heritage to promote inclusive, just and peaceful societies”.

To help celebrate, IFLA is dedicating our November newsletter to Documentary Heritage in order to explore this theme in more depth. Our IFLA Sections have provided input, in the form of statements on the topic and examples of this theme in action

Documentary Heritage Informing Policy Making

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The Roma Library of Malmö and the Roma Resource Library of Sweden

Since 1999, the Roma people have been protected in Sweden by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and from 2000 Sweden has national legislation giving the Roma people and the language Romani chib equal rights to, for instance, library services. The Swedish library act has appointed the group as a prioritized user group. In dialogue with the Roma population, a groundbreaking development has been initiated at Libraries of Malmö to establish a Roma Library. This long-awaited aspiration of the community is taking place right now in Malmö. Elisabet Rundqvist of the National Library of Sweden and Sebastian Tarazona, Libraries of Malmö, and members of the IFLA Library Services to Multicultural Populations (MCULTP) Section discuss the importance of connecting these two libraries.

In 2021 a municipal political decision was taken to initiate a Roma Library within the City Library of Malmö. The first actions by the Libraries of Malmö were to start an open dialogue process with the Roma Communities in the area, and to hire a full-time coordinator for the Roma Library as a permanent position.

In 2022 Bagir Kwiek, former Roma reading ambassador for Swedish Arts Council and former executive officer at the National Library of Sweden (KB), was hired as the coordinator for the Roma Library in Malmö. An open call was made to form a working group from the Roma communities, to contribute with perspectives and ideas for how to create the Roma Library.

Read more about the next steps towards the creation of a permanent national Roma Resource Library here.


World Programme’s anniversary and learn more about their work here.

Documentary heritage opening a window to the world

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

On 27 October 2022, UNESCO, together with Cultural Heritage Institutions around the world, gathered at UNESCO headquarters in Paris online virtually to celebrate the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage in tandem with the 30th Anniversary of the Memory of the World Programme. The theme for the 2022 World Day was “Your Window to the World,” which was conjoined with UNESCO’s 30th Anniversary Memory of the World theme of “Enlisting the documentary heritage to promote inclusive, just and peaceful societies.”

In this article, Anna Bohn, Gregory Lukow, and Chair, Monique Threatt, of IFLA’s Audiovisual and Multimedia Section discuss the importance of restoration, digitisation and long-term preservation of audiovisual heritage here Learn more about The World Day for Audiovisual Heritage and how preserving audiovisual material is critical for safeguarding the memory of the world here.

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CCAAA’s 2022 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage Promotional Video from fiafnet on Vimeo.

UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme’s 30th anniversary is an excellent time to state that the members of IFLA’s Art Libraries Section stand in solidarity with the ideals and values of this initiative. The preservation and access to documentary heritage in digital formats breathes new life into expressions of language, culture, thought, and events in our shared world. Responsibly stewarding documentary heritage in the digital realm brings with it the promise of broad access from remote locations, and alternative preservation to original items and objects that may–with time and events–become damaged, lost, or stolen.

Discover examples of how digitised documentary heritage collections can bring people together beyond geographic boarders here.

Find out more about how documentary heritage can help promote inclusive, just and peaceful societies. Read the 30th Anniversary of the Memory of the World Programme commemorative statement.

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