July 24, 2021

Communiqué: “Turning the Threat of COVID-19 Into an Opportunity For Greater Support to Documentary Heritage”

From a Joint Statement (via UNESCO):

The COVID-19 pandemic has already been declared as modern history’s gravest health emergency by many countries. The way the world is responding to this unprecedented global crisis will be part of history books. Memory institutions, including national archives, libraries, museums, as well as educational and research bodies, are already recording the decisions and actions being made which will help future generations to understand the extent of the pandemic and its impact on societies.

Against this background and amidst this global health crisis, documentary heritage is an important resource to provide a historical perspective on how governments, their citizens and the international community have addressed pandemics in the past.

Several countries have already issued orders for meticulous preservation of official records related to the pandemic. This not only underlines the gravity of the current situation, but also highlights the importance of memory institutions in providing the records or information management resources necessary for understanding, contextualizing and overcoming such crises in the future. At the same time, records of humanity’s artistic and creative expressions, which form a vital part of our documentary heritage, are a source of social connectivity and resilience for communities worldwide.

UNESCO, through the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme, stands ready to support all Member States who wish to preserve official records related to COVID-19 within the framework of the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation concerning the preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage including in digital form.

There are four key areas which demand shared responsibility among Member States, memory institutions and citizens in responding to COVID-19 – and preparing to respond to future pandemics. These are based, among others, on the shared educational, social, scientific and artistic values of documentary heritage.

Read the Complete Statement

Co-Signed

  • Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO.
  • Gerald Leitner, Secretary General, IFLA.
  • David Fricker, President, ICA. Peter Keller, Director-General, ICOM.
  • Webber Ndoro, Director-General, ICCROM.
  • Toby Seay, Chairperson, CCAAA.
  • Papa Momar Diop, Vice-Chairperson, ARCMOW (Memory of the World Regional Committee for Africa).
  • Kwibae Kim, Chairperson, MOWCAP (Memory of the World Regional Committee for Asia Pacific).
  • Sandra Moresco, President, MOWLAC (Memory of the World Regional Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean).

Signatories Statement
2 pages; PDF.

  • ARMA (Association of Records Managers and Administrators)
  • Committee on Data (CODATA)
  • Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC)
  • International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC)
  • International Council on Archives (ICA)
  • Research Data Alliance (RDA)
  • World Data System (WDS)
About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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