Preservation and Conservation Across Borders: 2021 Look-ahead

Despite the challenges the world faced in 2020, IFLA’s Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres continued to carry out their mission of preserving and providing access to library and archive materials – all with an emphasis on international cooperation. Click here for highlights from the past year.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic and its related hardships continue into 2021, the PAC Centres continue to adapt to new challenges and work environments. In uncertain times, the need to build capacity to improve preservation and conservation conditions and practice is more important than ever.

Here is a look at how some of the PAC Centres are planning to have an impact in their regions and beyond in 2021.

Local/Regional Cooperation

One aspect of the PAC Centres’ work is creating a strong network of documentary heritage and library professionals in their region, helping to create tools and trainings to improve their networks’ conservation and preservation practice, and address regionally specific issues relating to documentary cultural heritage.

PAC Kazakhstan, hosted at the National Library of Kazakhstan, is active in the Central Asia region, making connections with librarians in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Russia. In the coming year, they are planning to conduct master classes on document restoration with colleagues from Uzbekistan and Turkey on the topic, “Technology of production of oriental lacquer binding with ornaments”.

PAC Kazakhstan and PAC Russia have established a close relationship, and the Centres will continue to carry out joint work in the coming year, focussing on experience-sharing in book restoration.

PAC Trinidad and Tobago, hosted at the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS), will continue providing technical assistance and advice on preservation and conservation issues to almost 150 librarians and other heritage keepers in the Caribbean region. These consultations usually include a site visit with assessment, documentation and measurements, followed by reports and recommendations for collection care and preservation.

PAC Trinidad and Tobago also continues in their role engaging with UNESCO as a member of the Regional and National committees of UNESCO Memory of the World. This year, their work will also include developing a Preservation Training Programme for staff at the National Public Library, Archive and Documentation Services (NPLDS) of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Further, the centre will continue developing their collaborative work with the Caribbean Heritage Emergency Network (CHEN), created by CARBICA, the Caribbean Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives at the invitation of the National Archives of Trinidad & Tobago.

This is an exciting collaboration that will work to strengthen disaster risk reduction and response efforts for libraries in the Caribbean region.

PAC Qatar, hosted at the National Library of Qatar, carries out a wide range of activities every year that work to share knowledge, provide training, and safeguard the region’s documentary heritage.

The Centre will continue developing the Himaya project (حماية): Countering the trafficking and illegal circulation of the documentary heritage in the MENA region and neighboring countries. Qatar National Library and the PAC Center will cooperate and partner with various organizations such as the World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL, UNIDROIT, UNESCO-Lebanon and others to combat the trafficking of manuscripts, books and archives in the MENA region.

For those interested in learning about anti-trafficking work, keep an eye on IFLA’s news and events for more on this project.

Beyond this, the Centre will continue supporting preservation in memory institutions in the MENA region through training on documentary heritage preservation and library preparedness in case of conflicts, observing documentary heritage at risk in the Arab region and emergency response, and exploring sustainable building construction for libraries and archives.

All upcoming PAC Qatar events are shared on IFLA’s website, so stay tuned for opportunities to join training sessions in 2021.

PAC Japan, hosted at the National Diet Library, plans to continue in their role on the Preservation Committee of the Japan Library Association (JLA), which works to ensure preservation of Japanese materials and collections.

The Centre also cooperates closely with the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the National Archives of Japan and provides training programmes on preservation and conservation through these organisations.

International Cooperation

Beyond working in their specific regions, one important aspect of the PAC Programme is the ability to share knowledge on an international scale. Although many of our host libraries continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, here is a look at some international activities planned for 2021.

PAC Japan is involved in a UNDP-funded project involving the training of cultural heritage experts in Syria. However, 2020’s programme in Japan had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the global situation improves, the PAC Centre looks forward to continuing with this work.

The Centre is interested in inviting preservation specialists from other national libraries worldwide for experience-sharing and training opportunities. If the situation permits, this will be a goal for 2021.

Beyond their work with PAC Kazhakstan and libraries in Central Asia, PAC Russia, hosted at the Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature, is planning activities with international libraries on topics relating to preservation and conservation of books. This includes inviting specialists from the Library of Catalonia and the Library of Congress to facilitate workshops on bookbinding.

The Centre is planning professional exchange programmes and workshops on the preservation and conservation of books with the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts and the National Library of the Czech Republic.

PAC Qatar continues their ongoing effort to ssafeguard the Arab world’s sound and audio-visual heritage through a programme implemented in the framework of the cooperation project between University College London-Qatar, the British Library and the Qatar National Library. This programme includes online and on-site trainings and cooperation and an agreement with the International Association of Sound and Audio-visual Archives (IASA) to translate and distribute publications.


An important aspect of PAC Centre’s work that IFLA members can often engage with directly are the training sessions carried out by the Centres. While some are on-site, an increasing number are offered online.

For those upcoming events that invite an international audience, be sure to check IFLA’s online events page and subscribe to the PAC mailing list.

Here’s a look at the training projects the PAC Centres are planning for 2021:

Trinidad and Tobago are developing preservation training sessions to include:

  • Dealing With Mould
  • Caring For Your Family Heirlooms
  • Introduction to the Care of Photographs

PAC Qatar has a full programme of training throughout the year that invites libraries in the region and beyond to attend. Watch IFLA’s events page for upcoming invitations to participate.

PAC Japan has delivered their annual Preservation Forum in an online format for the first time, with a focus on protective enclosures. Upcoming workshops and events will depend on the COVID-19 situation. Opportunities to connect with the Centre, especially for other libraries in the Asia-Oceania region, will be shared as they arise.

Engaging with the Centres

Beyond joining training sessions, you are invited to access materials developed by the PAC Centres that may help you in your own preservation and conservation efforts.

This includes a wide range of materials available online, from videos on the history and preservation of various audio-visual materials from PAC Chile [available here], to IFLA’s Risk Register resources for reducing risk [available here].

Start here: The PAC Frequently Asked Questions share tips for common questions relating to material preservation, storage, risk reduction, and more. This is a great resource to directly access the knowledge of the PAC Centres and apply it to your collections.

Join the Preservation and Conservation mailing list for regular updates, opportunities, and more.

Do you have questions about the PAC Centres and their work? Get in touch: