Mobilizing the documentary heritage community amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Documentary heritage is an important resource for providing quality information and a historical perspective on how global health emergencies have been addressed in the past. UNESCO, through the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme, stands ready to support all Member States and memory institutions in their efforts to preserve and ensure public access to official records related to COVID-19. As part of this, we feature initiatives that harness the scientific, educational and artistic potential of documentary heritage to address the pandemic.
Turning the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity for greater support to documentary heritage
UNESCO together with its partners has issued a statement, "Turning the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity for greater support to documentary heritage" urging for greater support to documentary heritage during the COVID-19 crisis. It lays out four key areas of action for Member States, memory institutions as well as the greater public to ensure the effective use of documentary heritage in addressing the pandemic.
Read the Statement
Memory institutions worldwide are responding to COVID-19
Memory institutions around the world have shown incredible resilience in the face of this crisis. UNESCO invites you to engage in and share initiatives that harness the scientific, educational and artistic potential of documentary heritage to help its Member States address the pandemic.
Effective preservation practices and resources
- Audiovisual archiving: philosophy and principles
- Fundamental principles of documentary heritage digitization
- Memory of the World: safeguarding the documentary heritage: a guide to standards, recommended practices and reference literature related to the preservation of documents of all kinds
- Guidelines for the Preservation of Digital Heritage
- Memory of the World: general guidelines to safeguard documentary heritage
- Implementation Guidelines for the 2015 Recommendation Concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage Including in Digital Form
- COVID-19 and the Global Library Field: The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) published key resources for libraries in responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Museums in Japan - Japan Museums collect daily items to log pandemic history
- The American Library Association - Handling Library Materials and Collections During a Pandemic
- In response to Corona virus outbreak, the National Library and Archives Organization of Iran (NLAI) made available online and for free, more than 400'000 documents, including manuscripts, old photos etc.
- The Art Newspaper - Museums are chronicling the coronavirus pandemic for future generations: The New-York Historical Society and others are soliciting donations of objects and ephemera to document the "unprecedented times in which we are now living".
- Public Source is building a collaborative archive of life during COVID-19: Ongoing project showcasing the many narratives that are currently happening around the world observing and recording the COVID-19 pandemic.
Financial Relief and Other Resources
- American Alliance of Museums: COVID-19 Resources & Information for the Museum Field
- Institute for Museum and Library Services: Mitigating COVID-19 When Managing Paper-Based, Circulating, and Other Types of Collections
- Gale: Resources to support libraries and educators impacted by COVID-19
- American Alliance of Museums: 4 Ways Museums Can Successfully Leverage Digital Content and Channels during Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- The NotForgotten Digital Preservation Library
- "Archives are Accessible", International Council on Archives
Learning from Past Pandemics (media)
- France Archives – « La France malade de la peste », 20 March 2020
- France Culture – « Mary Typhoïde : une vie en quarantaine », Derwell Queffelec, 5 March 2020
- The New York Times, “Photos From a Century of Epidemics”, Alan Cowell, 20 March 2020
- The New Yorker, “A Historian’s View of the Coronavirus Epidemic and the Influenza of 1918”, David Remnick, 25 March 2020
- The New Yorker, “The National Emergency Library is a Gift to Readers Everywhere”, Jill Lepore, 26 March 2020
- NPR, "An Unfinished Lesson: What The 1918 Flu Tells Us About Human Nature", 23 March 2020
- University of Melbourne, "The Lessons from Past Pandemics", 5 April 2020
- Ithaka S+R, "Documenting the COVID-19 Pandemic: Archiving the Present for Future Research", 6 April 2020
- The Washington Post, "History’s deadliest pandemics, from ancient Rome to modern America", 7 April 2020
- NYT, "What Can We Learn From the Art of Pandemics Past?", 8 April 2020
Blog: In Living Memory: Making the Most of Documentary Heritage in COVID-19 Decision-making
This blog strings together a series of short reflective articles by various experts from around the world on how documentary heritage is being enlisted in servicing citizens, scientists and policymakers as they seek to come to terms with Covid-19. The articles draw upon records held by memory institutions (archives, libraries, museums, research organizations, etc.) to make an empirical case for the importance of documentary heritage as a resource for decision-making about the multifaceted aspects of a global public health crisis. Overall, the blog aims to stimulate interest in documentary heritage as a key feature of any sustainable solution to a pandemic of global proportions in living memory.
You can access blog posts here:
- Documentary heritage is a unique knowledge asset for Covid-19 decision-making
By Fackson Banda, Chief, Documentary Heritage Unit (Memory of the World)
- Clarifying the Constraints that African Governments and Memory Institutions face as they handle the Coronavirus Pandemic
By Professor Gabriel O. Alegbeleye (Babcock University, Ilisan, Ogun State, Nigeria)
- Digital Expansion and Leadership in Pandemic Times
By Laila Hussein Moustafa, Associate Professor (University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign - USA)
- How will Covid-19 be remembered? Making Use of Arts & Technology to make the past more accessible
By Anju NIWATA, Student at the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan