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„Memory of the World“

Slovak Committee for UNESCO Memory of the World Programme

The UNESCO Memory of the World Programme was established in 1992. Its creation was conditioned by the growing awareness of the poor state of preservation and access to the documentary heritage in various parts of the world. War, social upheavals and serious lack of resources have exacerbated the problems that have already existed for centuries. Many significant collections worldwide had difficult fate – looting, pillage, illegal trade, inadequate funding, all has taken its toll – many collections have disappeared for good, many are at risk. Fortunately, some pieces of missing documentary heritage are found from time to time. 

The International Advisory Committee, IAC, met in Pultusk, Poland, for the first time in 1993. The Committee has created a so called action plan. It confirmed the role of UNESCO as the main coordinator and a catalyst which would promote partnerships in favour of the implementation of projects among the governments of the individual Member States, international organizations and foundations. In addition, technical and marketing sub-committees were also established. The preparation of the General Guidelines of the Programme was launched under contract with the International Federation of Library Associations and by the compilation of lost or irreparably damaged library collections and archival assets (the participation of IFLA and International Council on Archives, ICA). UNESCO prepared a list of endangered library and archival assets and also a world list of national film heritage with the help of the related National Commissions for UNESCO.

In the meantime, a series of pilot projects, using modern technologies for the reproduction of the documentary heritage originals on other media, was launched. These projects provided better access to this documentary heritage and also contributed to their protection.

Perhaps the most visible element of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme is the Register of the Memory of the World which was founded in 1995. It lists the documentary heritage which was proposed by the International Advisory Committee and subsequently approved by the UNESCO Director-General. At the IAC sessions, which are held every two years, new elements are added to the Register.


Since the idea of the Memory of the World Programme is that the world documentary heritage belongs to everyone, it should be maintained and protected in the interest of all and with due recognition of individual cultural mores and habits (and also with regards to suitability) the world documentary heritage should be accessible to all without hinderance, the main role of this programme is:

· To help with the preservation of the documentary heritage by using the most appropriate techniques, whether through direct practical assistance, dissemination of information and advice and the promotion of education in this field or by securing sponsors for appropriate projects. 

· To promote universal access to documentary heritage, for example by supporting activities such as publishing digitalized copies and catalogues on the internet, publication and distribution of books, CDs DVDs and other products.

· To increase global awareness of the existence of documentary heritage and its significance.


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