UNESCO calls for greater support to documentary heritage amid COVID-19

UNESCO and its partners have just issued a statement, calling on Member States, memory institutions and the wider public to harness the educational, scientific and artistic potential of documentary heritage in efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak.
As part of its effort to mobilize the documentary heritage community against the pandemic, UNESCO, through the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme, has created a dedicated webpage, Resources for Documentary Heritage Professionals, featuring resources for Member States, memory institutions and citizens to ensure that all official records related to the COVID-19 crisis are effectively preserved and readily available to the public.

The webpage, which will be updated on a regular basis, also features videos from UNESCO’s partners describing their organizational efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on memory institutions as well as the wider public.

These include initiatives by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA), along with the MoW Regional Committees for Africa (ARCMOW), Asia Pacific (MOWCAP) and Latin America and the Caribbean (MOWLAC), all of whom co-signed the statement.

In summing up the isusnce of the joint statement, Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, said, “Memory institutions worldwide have demonstrated their relevance to addressing today’s crisis. They have continued to serve the public in creative ways, leveraging digital technologies to meet the increasing demand for health, educational and other types of information.”

As this unprecedented global crisis unfolds, archives, libraries, museums and other memory institutions will be crucial in helping future generations to understand the extent of the pandemic and its impact on societies. At the moment, they are working hard to provide invaluable resources that are helping people, including scientists and policymakers, to take a historical perspective on how pandemics have been addressed in the past.

The MoW Programme, managed by UNESCO’s Documentary Heritage Unit, was set up in 1992 to identify documentary heritage of historical and world significance, preserve it, and enhance public access to it.

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