UNESCO launches a new blog “In Living Memory: Making the Most of Documentary Heritage in COVID-19 Decision-making”

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UNESCO has just launched a new blog dedicated to the importance of documentary heritage in global health crises. Entitled “In Living Memory: Making the Most of Documentary Heritage in COVID-19 Decision-making”, the blog will bring together voices of experts from around the world, discussing the uses of documentary heritage as a resource for policymaking, science and education among others.
“With this blog, we hope to make an empirical case for the importance of documentary heritage as part of any sustainable solution to the global pandemic. The overall aim is to stimulate reflection on the subject, both intellectually and empirically.” – said Dr. Fackson Banda, the Head of UNESCO’s Documentary Heritage Unit.

The blog’s inaugural post, written by Dr. Banda, argues that documentary heritage serves as a unique knowledge asset for COVID-19 decision-making, and describes three ways in which it is already contributing: i) influencing behaviour; ii) instigating national policy responses or institutional initiatives; and iii) providing an opportunity to harness technological innovation.

More blog posts will soon follow from experts, including those serving on the Sub-Committee on Education and Research (SCeaR) of the International Advisory Committee (IAC). They will draw upon records held by memory institutions (archives, libraries, museums, research organizations, etc.) to provide concrete examples of harnessing the potential of documentary heritage in individual and collective efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

The articles will be featured on both the Memory of the World Programme website and the dedicated page on Resources for Documentary Heritage Professionals.

The launch of “In Living Memory” follows the publication of the UNESCO joint statement on “Turning the Threat of COVID-19 into an Opportunity for Greater Support to Documentary Heritage”, which highlights the importance of memory institutions in helping us learn from past pandemics and effectively preserving all official records related to the current crisis for future public use.

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.