Tag Archives: Preservation

A Right to Be Remembered: A Task for Copyright Laws

Ever since the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union to allow people to request the removal of articles that violate their right to a private life from search results about them, the notion of a ‘Right to be Forgotten’ as entered the language.

It is not uncontroversial. Supporters highlight the possibility it offers for people to leave past minor misdemeanours behind them (especially once they have served their time), or to protect themselves against damage to their reputation, for example from allegations or charges which were never proven to the true.

Opponents worry that such provisions can be used to make it more difficult to find out about the past activities of people in power, and even the deletion of records (not just their removal from search results). The fact that decisions as to who has this right are effectively left to private companies also worries some.

In parallel, however, some commentators have pointed out the relevance of thinking about a ‘right to be remembered’.

This blog starts by exploring some of the different ways in which this has been talked about already as an idea, before underlining its relevance in a digital age, and finally setting out how this could manifest itself in copyright laws. In doing so, it covers much of the same ground as the UNECO 2015 Recommendation on Documentary Heritage.


From Forgetting to Remembering

Soon after the idea of the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ appeared, that of a ‘Right to Be Remembered’ also popped up.

For some, the concept was an excuse to justify the collection of data about customers in order to offer them an ‘improved’ customer experience on websites.

However, already in 2015, Irina Raicu from the Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in 2015 talked about being remembered as a  ‘privilege’, raising the idea of the importance of ensuring that individual stories are not lost. In particular, she highlights the importance of ensuring that the names of Holocaust victims where known, in order to promote awareness of what happened.

An article published by people involved in the High Atlas Foundation went further, suggesting that creating a right for communities to protect and preserve their heritage, and have autonomy over its safeguarding should be added to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In this, it made the connection with the practices of many Western institutions in the past in appropriating elements of heritage from other cultures (often seen as inferior), and supported efforts at restitution.

This work does also highlight the issue, increasingly recognised in the library field, of the need to reconsider practices that risked treating knowledge and experience from much of the world and its populations, consciously or unconsciously, as inferior. In doing so, this has led to a situation where some groups’ lives have been more easily forgotten, allowing our image of the past to be distorted.

In parallel, we also have more conscious efforts to eradicate the experience of individuals or groups from history altogether, either through the altering of existing records, or the deliberate destruction of materials that testify to people’s existence.

In short, we can argue that individuals and groups should have the possibility to be remembered, and their experiences and contributions valued by those who come after.

Indeed, this could be seen as an element of the cultural rights offered by international law; future generations risking seeing these rights jeopardised if the memory of those who have come before – their ancestors – is simply wiped away.


New Possibilities

The emergence of the internet, and its spread to a greater and greater share of the global population have meant that there are now more opportunities than ever before to share stories, ideas and experiences.

It is no longer the case that only those with access to a printing press and a distribution network can share their ideas, experiences, and knowledge widely, through websites, blogs, social media, and beyond.

However, the possibility to be heard today is not the same thing as the possibility to be heard in future. The internet is a poor preserver of material. Materials published there, or otherwise in digital form, can easily be lost, and so the knowledge and experience of their creators forgotten.

Ironically, in parallel, in a world so focused on digital access, the same fate also risks befalling physical works, which are less easily found and accessed. And in the meanwhile, the intensification of the consequences of climate change risk seeing whole collections of memory destroyed.

This is where libraries, archives and museums can step in, with a mandate to ensure as broad a preservation of the experience of today for the benefit of tomorrow. This is a key social function, an investment today in ensuring the possibility for future generations to learn, to carry out research, and to enjoy their cultural rights.

In other words, the right to be remembered depends on having libraries, archives, museums and other heritage actors and institutions, tasked with preserving the memory of all cultures, libraries, archives and museums, and giving access to it.

It is clearly not something that can be left to the market. We cannot put a price on the value of memory or of the cultural rights it supports, just as we cannot charge our future selves for the cost of this work today. We need empowered libraries, archives and museums to fil the gap.

Clearly, this is work that needs to be taken forwards in line with ethical principles, in particular as regards Indigenous peoples, with collections built and managed in a way that respects the interests of the groups affected. There is growing awareness of how this can be done, in parallel with wider efforts to ensure that collections practices reflect the communities our institutions serve.


Acting for a Right to Be Remembered

A number of the elements that need to be in place for a Right to Be Remembered are already covered above – heritage institutions with the resources necessary to safeguard the knowledge and experience of the present and past, as well as collections policies and practices that promote inclusion while also respecting the interests of Indigenous groups in particular.

Yet beyond this, there is also the question of how to ensure that copyright laws do not end up representing a barrier to the right to be remembered.

This is a distinct possibility. Copyright already applies to works regardless of whether there is any intention to exploit them commercially. Even for works which are produced with a market in mind, for all but a tiny minority the term of protection extends far beyond their commercial lifespan.

In fulfilling their mission to defend the right to be remembered, libraries, archives and museums do risk running into blockages, being forbidden to take preservation copies of in-copyright works, in the most appropriate format, unless they seek permission (which may be impossible) or pay remuneration (which diverts resources away from the work of preservation itself).

This is the case in the 70% of countries which do not offer libraries, archives and museums a guarantee of being able to preserve works using whatever technology is most appropriate. Only among the 27 countries of the European Union is there (supposed to be) a clear possibility to form cross-border partnerships for preservation, helping ensure most effective use of resources and expertise.

As highlighted above, simply leaving the Right to Be Remembered to the market is unlikely to be an effective strategy. We tend to discount the value of access to knowledge for future generations, and of course even just the potential of earning revenues on a work in the short-term may prove too strong a temptation for rightholders.

Importantly, the Right to Be Remembered cannot be effective if works containing memory are locked away. While, of course, the Right to Be Remembered should not in itself mean the loss of the right to exploit a work commercially, it is meaningless if it is not accompanied by the possibility for people to access this memory. Cultural rights do not only apply to works that are old enough to have fallen into the public domain.

As the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation notes as early as its title, preservation and access must go hand in hand.

In short, if we are to take the Right to Be Remembered seriously, we need to ensure that institutions charged with making this right a reality themselves are guaranteed the possibility under copyright law to do whatever is necessary to preserve knowledge and experience, and to provide access to this knowledge in ways that do not jeopardise commercial exploitation.

Getting Involved in Cultural Heritage Advocacy: European Days of Conservation-Restoration 2021

The European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers Organisations (E.C.C.O.) sets aside a week every year to celebrate Europe’s cultural heritage and the professionals who work to preserve and provide access to it.

It is inspiring to see the preservation and digitisation of books, papers, manuscripts, photographs, and other documentary heritage materials feature during this week. IFLA especially highlights those working to preserve materials that make up the memory of the world, as libraries and library professionals are essential keepers of this cultural heritage.  We explored this further in our blog post for European Day of Conservation-Restoration 2020, which you can read here.

For this year’s European Days of Conservation-Restoration, a social media campaign highlighted good practices and the professionals and institutions involved in this work. However, it also explored other themes, such as heritage at risk, sustainability, and the importance of reaching out and building networks.

This provides a great example for cultural heritage professionals around the world of an accessible way to get involved in advocacy.

Storytelling for Advocacy

Cultural heritage provides a gateway to the vast collective knowledge of humankind; it inspires connection and fuels creativity and innovation.

Cultural heritage professionals can help promote recognition of the potential of cultural heritage for bettering society through engaging in advocacy on how their work makes a positive impact.

The importance of incorporating advocacy and storytelling into cultural heritage conservation practice was among the topics presented by IFLA in a keynote address to the Institute of Conservation (ICON) Book and Paper Group Conference 2021 titled: Inspiring and Informing Development: Advocating for culture in sustainable development.

An important theme of this address was that no one person is too small to make a difference.

The IFLA speaker urged cultural heritage professionals to act boldly – individually and within networks – as advocates, telling stories that help illustrate the value that cultural heritage has for people now and into the future.

Examples – European Days of Conservation 2021

Using online platforms to proactively reach out and tell stories can be effective means by which to connect with community members, policymakers, and fellow professionals.

Participating in celebrations like the European Days of Conservation-Restoration is an excellent opportunity to join voices with others and increase one’s reach.

The E.C.C.O. called for its community of European conservation and restoration professionals to take part in a social media campaign – highlighting stories that invite viewers into their workspaces and highlight the important role they have in safeguarding cultural heritage.

There were several fascinating posts that feature documentary cultural heritage. These posts bring conservation and restoration practice to life, and help other understand the work that goes in to ensuring these materials remain accessible.

Some examples include the Association of Conservator-Restorers in Bulgaria highlighting several institutions that specialise in conservation of works on paper; information-sharing on how documents are preserved from the Samuel Guichenon Collection, Historical University Library of Medicine, Montpellier University; and the National Archives of Malta demonstrates a treatment for paper that has been damaged by iron gall ink.

For more, visit E.C.C.O. on social media: Facebook & Twitter.

Sustainability, Cooperation, and Networking

Beyond highlighting good practice, a goal of this year’s European Days of Conservation-Restoration was also to raise awareness of key aspects of cultural heritage’s role in society, including access and sustainability.

Participants were encouraged to explore this through themes on the preservation of tangible cultural heritage in the view of climate change and the importance of reaching out beyond the sector – involving politics, education, training and research as pillars for cooperation towards sustainability and development.

The social media campaign took this opportunity to raise awareness of several initiatives that are linking cultural heritage with broader development intiatives, such as EU-funded project CLIMATE FOR CULTURE, the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change, and the Climate Heritage Network.

For example, as part of its #ClimateHeritage Mobilisation @ Climate Fridays webinar series, Climate Heritage Network delivered a webinar on the theme: Building Reuse is Climate Action. A wider audience was invited to attend this programme, which offered a compelling environmental case for building reuse and its part in the goal for zero carbon emissions.

IFLA is a founding member of the Climate Heritage Network. Follow more on IFLA’s involvement with Climate Heritage Network in the coming weeks in the lead-up to COP26.

Everyone can be an advocate

Joining networks, reaching out beyond the sector, and highlighting connections between cultural heritage practice and social issues like sustainability are all ways to get involved in advocacy.

Participating in events such as the European Days of Conservation-Restoration by taking part in social media campaigns and joining virtual events is a low/no-cost action that individuals or institutions can do to begin increasing their involvement in advocacy.

To go back to the key message in IFLA’s recent keynote address on advocating for culture in sustainable development, no one is too small to make a difference.

Library professionals around the world are encouraged to seek out opportunities to highlight their work, and to get in touch with IFLA HQ for help showcasing their own stories.

Contact: claire.mcguire@ifla.org for more.

Putting IFLA’s Risk Register to Work

IFLA’s Risk Register works to help prevent the loss of documentary heritage collections of all kinds. It is a record of collections, combined with a suite of tools to help collection owners recognise risks and take steps towards risk reduction.

By recording information regarding irreplaceable documentary heritage collections, we are better prepared help secure their safety in the event of a human-caused or natural disaster. While information sharing is critical to allow for rapid response to disaster, the Risk Register itself is strictly confidential. Only when necessary would IFLA share this information with our official partners in cultural property protection, such as Blue Shield International and UNESCO.

Who is the Risk Register for?

The Risk Register is for institutions holding documentary heritage collections – big and small. These collections can be of value to a local community or on a national, regional, or international scale.

If you are holding a collection that you feel might be facing risk from natural disaster, conflict, or simply feel that you don’t know enough about risk reduction planning, this can help you find solutions.

Why use the Risk Register?

Complex threats can be better faced with the support of a network.

By registering a collection, you help ensure that it is known about in the face of disaster or conflict, and relevant actors can do what they can to help. If national infrastructures are weak – or indeed if the risk of harm to collections comes from governments themselves – using the register may be helpful.

Meanwhile, connecting documentary heritage collection owners to resources wherever they may be helps manage risks in advance. The Risk Register also compiles tools, guidelines, and advice from international experts to help inspire and inform action to safeguard your collection.

What if my collection is already registered?

The Risk Register does not aim to be an exhaustive list of all documentary heritage collections, and is strictly optional for collection owners and managers. If your collection is adequately covered on a national or other register, you are certainly not obliged to register it here as well.

Perhaps instead, you might want to share this information with collection holders in your network who are not eligible to be included on an alternative register.

How it Works

The IFLA Risk Register is comprised of three stages: Recognise, Register, and React.

Recognise: Do you recognise the risks that might be present for your collection? This step will provide tools and resources to get started assessing risk and creating a risk management plan.

Register: Having a properly catalogued collection is vital for risk reduction. Here you can begin the application process for inclusion on the IFLA Risk Register.

React: No matter your capacity level, there are most likely some steps you can take now to help reduce risk. This step provides tools, resources, and guidance to help.


A Guide to Taking Action

We need your help to safeguard the world’s documentary heritage. By registering as many collections as possible, we can more effectively identify when collections may be in danger and inform rapid-response and recovery efforts.

Step 1: Consider Collections within Your Institution

Are there risks present that could put your institution’s irreplaceable collections in danger? Be sure to consider the risk factors in your region for the following:

  • Natural disaster (hurricanes, tsunamis, flooding)
  • Civil unrest, armed conflict
  • Fire and accidents
  • Theft and trafficking of cultural property

For resources on assessing risk, see The Risk Register: Recognise.

Take Action:


Step 2: Raise Awareness in your Network

Your network in your country and region is an invaluable resource for connecting collection-owners with the Risk Register.

Take action:

Help promote the Risk Register as a resource for documentary heritage collection holders. Share resources in your network to assist in risk assessment and disaster planning. See The Risk Register: Recognise for tools.

  • Post the link to the Risk Register on your website (see sample text below!)
  • Share information on the Register on your social media and other communication channels

Step 3: Proactively connect Collection-Holders

Your knowledge of local and regional documentary heritage collections and stakeholders can help the Risk Register be its most effective.

Take action: 

Are you aware of collections within your country or region that could benefit from inclusion on the Risk Register? Reach out to the collection holders directly or put them in touch with IFLA HQ (claire.mcguire@ifla.org) for more information and support during the registration process.


  • Think about collections that are not listed on the Memory of the World list, or otherwise registered on national-level registries. Are they at risk of being forgotten? Consider them as a priority.
  • Does your region have documentary heritage collections, such as manuscript libraries, that are held in private or family collections? Could sharing information about the IFLA Risk Register be a way to expand your relationship with these collection-owners?


Sample Messaging – News or Website

Title: Discover IFLA’s Risk Register

During natural or human-caused disasters, information sharing is vital in order to prevent unnecessary losses, but also challenging. The International Federation of Library Associations and institutions (IFLA) Risk Register helps identify irreplaceable documentary heritage collections. In the event of a disaster, this means that the information necessary to help secure their safety is immediately available to those who can help.

Registering your documentary heritage collection can be used to inform rapid-response and recovery efforts. IFLA does not make this information public, but, when necessary, will share with official cultural property protection partners such as UNESCO and Blue Shield International.

How it works

The IFLA Risk Register is comprised of three stages: Recognise, Register, and React.

  1. Recognise: Do you recognise the risks that might be present for your collection? This step will provide tools and resources to get started assessing risk and creating a risk management plan.
  2. Register: Having a properly catalogued collection is vital for risk reduction. Here you can begin the application process for inclusion on the IFLA Risk Register.
  3. React: No matter your capacity level, there are most likely some steps you can take now to help reduce risk. This step provides tools, resources, and guidance to help.

Who is the Risk Register For?

The Risk Register is for institutions holding documentary heritage collections – big and small. These collections can be of value to a local community or on a national, regional, or international scale. If you are holding a collection that you feel might be facing risk from natural disaster or conflict, or simply feel that you need to know more about risk reduction planning, this can help you find solutions.

Find out more online here: The IFLA Risk Register


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: Claire.mcguire@ifla.org


Open your “Virtual Doors” – Conservation and Access to Cultural Heritage

Open your “virtual doors” to the public!

This is the call to action for the 3rd annual European Day of Conservation and Restoration (11 October), for which the E.C.C.O. (European Confederation of Conservator-Restorers’ Organisations) invites Conservator-Restorers from all around Europe to give a glimpse into their work via social media.

In this time, when more of our engagement with culture than ever needs to take place from home, the ability not only to access cultural heritage, but also to see the process of its conservation and preservation is important. It raises awareness of the expertise that goes into the protection of, and access to, our cultural heritage.

It is this expertise, held by practitioners in museums, archives, galleries, universities, and of course libraries, that allows us to access, enjoy, learn, and benefit from the world’s cultural heritage – even from home.

Why Documentary Heritage Matters

The value of documentary heritage, stated by UNESCO, is promoting “the sharing of knowledge for greater understanding and dialogue, in order to promote peace and respect for freedom, democracy, human rights and dignity”. Preservation is a key element in realising this potential.

Photographs, manuscripts, books, journals, public records, audio-visual material – the survival of the documentary heritage that is held in the collections of libraries around the world relies on the precise and scientific practice of conservation as much as the paintings and antiquities in the world’s museums do.

As such, Conservator-Restorers have an essential role to play in the implementation of the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation for the Preservation and Access to Documentary Heritage, including in Digital Form.

In the segment Preservation, UNESCO encourages member states not only to carry out practices to ensure the long-term preservation of documentary heritage, but as well to develop awareness-raising and capacity-building measures and policies, such as promoting research and providing training and facilities. 

Conservation and Restoration: A Necessary Precondition for Access

In line with this year’s European Day of Conservation and Restoration theme, experiences with culture and heritage during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic have largely existed in the virtual space.

With the worldwide halting of tourism and restrictions or physical closures of museums, libraries, archives, and galleries, there is hardly an institution that does have an interest in ways to connect virtually their public to their collections.

IFLA has recently shared tips for collection-holding institutions to create digital engagement during this time and beyond. Yet the truth is that the need for online engagement will continue even after COVID-19 is a thing of the past.

Little of this engagement would be possible without the conservation and digitisation of our heritage objects.

The IFLA Guidelines for Setting Up a Digital Unification Project (2019) take collection holders through the steps they must consider when carrying out a project that centres on digitisation. In this practical guide, the very first step of “Managing the project” is Conservation/Preservation.

The guidelines state: “Documents that are not in a fit state to be digitised without damage have to be restored to an appropriate level.”

During the time of COVID-19, when many in the cultural heritage sector are relying on digital collections to connect them with their public, the role of conservators remains a crucial step in ensuring cultural heritage is accessible.

What Can Libraries Do?

As highlighted, our documentary heritage gives us a record of the memory of the world – a look at the past that connects us with one another, to the generations that came before, and, through its conservation, to the generations to come.

Libraries have a critical role to play, both in carrying out this conservation work, and in educating their visitors on what goes on “behind the scenes” to ensure these collections remain accessible.

Public interest in heritage can be increased through allowing a peak behind the curtain.

Libraries can help educate their communities on the work of Conservator-Restorers in their institution through programming both in-person, such as tours of conservation spaces, as well as virtually, though videos, lectures, and other content shared online and through social media.

Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres

Over the past year, IFLA’s Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres, hosted in libraries around the world, have carried out multiple programmes that connect both the library’s visitors and other professionals with their preservation and conservation work.

PAC Korea, hosted at the National Library of Korea in Seoul, Republic of Korea, hosts an annual Special Stacks Tour during Library Week in mid-April. Registered guests could join tours of the inside area of preservation stacks, which are usually not publicly accessible. They were about the learn about the preservation environment and techniques. By introducing the library’s preservation function to the general public, these special tours promote the importance of materials preservation.

Although PAC North America, hosted at the Library of Congress, USA, could not host the tours and public events that are usually scheduled for Preservation Week this year, the Library held an online series of webinars in its Topics in Preservation series aimed at a professional audience — librarians, archivists and museum staff. Each webinar drew more than 500 attendees from across every U.S. time zone in the U.S. as well as international participants.

Planned Library Engagement in the European Day of Conservation and Restoration

 In the current “stay at home” climate, how is the European Day of Conservation and Restoration being celebrated this year?

 In line with the call to “open your virtual doors to the public”, the E.C.C.O. asked their network to share photos and videos on social media throughout the week to give a glimpse into their workrooms.

We were excited to see E.C.C.O members in libraries sharing examples of the work they are doing to preserve documentary heritage! Have a look at a few examples:


IPCE. Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España shared photos of their project restoring the binding of a 16th-century Quran from the collection of Arab-Andalusian manuscripts of the Library of the Instituto Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid.



The National and University Library, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia shared pictures and information detailing their careful restoration of a manuscript from Poljanska valley.



The Chester Beatty museum and library in Dublin shared an online lecture on the condition and treatment of an 18th century Indian manuscript from the library’s collection, including ethical considerations that go into treating original manuscript material.

Watch here [YouTube] 


The Association of Conservators of Antiquities and Works of Art of Higher Education, Greece, shared a glimpse into the Conservation Service of the National Library of Greece and its laboratory hosted at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre.
Watch here [YouTube] 

Thank you to the E.C.C.O. and all the participating institutions for opening your virtual doors and giving us a peak at the work you are doing to preserve and provide access to the world’s documentary cultural heritage!

Get involved! You are welcome to share your library’s conservation and restoration work using the hashtag #EuropeanDayConservationRestoration.

Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres in Acton: Highlights from 2019-2020

Hosted in libraries around the world, IFLA’s Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Centres are hubs of knowledge on the preservation and conservation of library and archive materials.

Throughout the year, these Centres carry out work both internationally and within their regions to advance professional practice, facilitate knowledge-sharing, and provide training opportunities. Through their work, the global library field is better equipped to preserve its collections and help ensure documentary heritage remains accessible for future generation.

Despite the challenges of 2020, the PAC Centres have been actively involved in a wide variety of projects. Here is a look at some of the PAC Centres’ activities from the past year. You can read the full Annual Reports from each PAC Centre here.

International Cooperation

One of the major assets of the PAC Centre network is their ability to facilitate international cooperation. Here’s a look at several different approaches to strengthening cooperation across boarders:

Equipment Sharing

  • PAC North America brought a portable multispectral imaging system to the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, Ireland to image historic medieval Irish manuscripts, dating from the 6th – 16th centuries. In an ongoing collaboration with the University College Cork, the PAC Centre will be using this data to render faded and obscured text that has been unreadable for centuries, to look at how the books were originally made and written, and to combine this information with scholarly historical context to provide a deeper understanding of these significant materials.


  • PAC Korea  implemented a Material Preservation training program for foreign librarians visiting the National Library of Korea, including participating librarians from Bhutan, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Cambodia.
  • PAC Russia hosted an Interdisciplinary scientific and practical conference on the study of rare book collections of Russia and Austria, discussion problems of preservation and conservation of rare books and sheet music, documents, photographs. More than 100 specialists from Russia, Austria, Switzerland, and Qatar, attended the conference, which was also webcasted and received more than 220,000 views.
  • PAC Qatar and University College London, working through the British Library-Qatar Foundation partnership, organised a seminar: Before It Is Too Late: Protecting and Preserving Arab Audiovisual Heritage on World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on 27 October 2019. The seminar emphasized the urgency of efforts to preserve the unique audiovisual heritage of Qatar and the Middle East on a large scale by finding collaborative solutions and sharing expertise.
  • Although PAC North America could not host the tours and public events that are usually scheduled for Preservation Week this year, the Library held an online series of webinars in its Topics in Preservation series aimed at a professional audience — librarians, archivists and museum staff. Each webinar drew more than 500 attendees from across every U.S. time zone in the U.S. as well as international participants.

Digitisation of Cultural Heritage

  • PAC Poland, together with international experts, contributed to the blog of POLONA/<labs>, a web-based resource created by the National Library of Poland dedicated to the use of new technologies in digitisation and promotion of cultural heritage. PAC Poland addresses various technical issues in digitisation and digital preservation with nine blog entries published in English and in Polish.
  • The PAC Centre for Oceania, hosted at the National Library of Australia, together with the Australian Government and the National Library of New Zealand, are working with colleagues across the Pacific to develop the Pacific Virtual Museum. This online portal will provide a single access point to digitised Pacific cultural heritage items held across museums, galleries and library collections across the world and will allow people from the Pacific to access their digitised cultural heritage, much of which is stored in offshore institutions.

Cooperation with other PAC Centres

The PAC Centres are uniquely positioned to cooperate with one another, exchanging experiences and sharing knowledge across their network.

For example, a framework of professional exchange between specialists has been established between the PAC Centres for Arabic Countries and Middle East (Qatar) and for the CIS and Eastern Europe (Russia).

Over the past year, specialists from QNL visited their Russian colleagues to share experience in risk management. The presentation introduced different types of damage on library collections, resulting from various disaster hazards, and the measures to prevent such damage, with the aim to preserve the library resources and the authenticity of library materials.

The PAC Regional Center for Central Asia, hosted at the National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which includes countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, also has established an agreement to cooperate closely with the Russia PAC Centre on exchanging knowledge and expertise.

Local/Regional Cooperation

Another important aspect of the PAC Centres is their local connections and familiarity with local context. This allows them to initiate or take part in programmes that address specific challenges or issues in their countries and regions. Here are some examples for PAC work in their regions over the past year:

Disaster Response and Recovery

  • PAC Japan, hosted at the National Diet Library in Tokyo, dispatched staff to assist in the rescue of library materials and museum collections damaged by a typhoon that hit Eastern Japan in October 2019.
  • In December 2019, staff from PAC North America travelled to San Juan, Puerto Rico and conducted assessments at La Casa del Libro, a museum dedicated to the history and artistry of the printed word. They examined and wrote condition reports on nearly 90 objects, mostly books and bound manuscripts, from the 15th through the 17th centuries as well as several artists books from the 20th century printed and bound by Puerto Rican artists. The materials were all held in the museum during hurricane Maria in 2017, which suffered damage in the storm.

Training and Support

  • PAC Korea provided various forms of preservation treatment support for valuable materials held in multiple domestic libraries. The Centre also organised a Preservation and Conservation of Library Materials learning course for librarians covering multiple subjects, from traditional preservation of library materials to audio-visual heritage and more. As part of this programme, they filmed training videos on conservation treatment of library materials, to provide instruction on basic conservation techniques without the need for face-to-face learning.
  • PAC Poland has also provided support to libraries across the country and beyond, mostly related requests for support on digitisation. In December 2019, the Centre arranged a one-day workshop with a Q&A session with a visiting expert on using the image quality standard Metamorfoze Preservation Imaging in mass digitisation projects of library materials. The event was attended by specialists from reprographic departments of various libraries, museums and archives in Poland.
  • PAC Japan and the National Diet Library organises an annual one-day program on preservation and conservation of library materials for librarians in Japan. This program includes a lecture on basic preservation theory and a workshop on elementary techniques for mending paper materials. It was held three times in September 2019 for a total of 70 trainees.
  • The PAC Centre for Central Asia (Kazakhstan) hosts an annual School for the Conservation and Restoration of Written Documents, operated by the National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan. This features courses to improve the skills of specialists in the field of preservation and preservation of paper documents. In 2019, practical classes were held with specialists from libraries, archives and museums of Kazakhstan. In 2020, classes were held online with specialists from the Kyzylorda and Kostanai regions. The PAC Centre also held a training seminar and master classes on the restoration of rare books in Uzbekistan, which were attended by restorers-binders from libraries, archives and museums of Uzbekistan.

Region-Specific Initiatives

  • The Qatar National Library and the PAC Center for Arab Countries and the Middle East (Qatar) have launched the Himaya Project, an initiative to counter the trafficking of manuscripts, books and archives in the MENA region. An important goal of the project will also be to create strong engagement with broader international agencies and regional organizations to counter trafficking of items. In addition to working with IFLA, they will cooperate closely with the World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL, and UNIDROIT.
  • PAC Qatar also carried out the project, Supporting Documentary Heritage Preservation in the Arab Region In collaboration with UNESCO (June 2018 – June 2020). Representatives from libraries and cultural institutions from across the Middle East and North Africa joined international experts to discuss key issues relating to heritage preservation in the region at a high-level conference in December 2019, which was jointly organised by Qatar National Library and UNESCO.
  • PAC Oceania and the National Library of Australia are collaborating with partners in the Pacific region to improve knowledge of and access to Pacific cultural heritage resources through the Australian collaborative online library database Trove.  Pacific is part of the new ‘Place’ facet of Trove. This feature gives users the ability to narrow their search to items related to the Pacific, allowing Pacific peoples to find and access freely available digitised material relating to their own culture and region online without having to visit an Australian library in person.

 PAC Centres and IFLA Projects

The major project that PAC Centres carried out with IFLA this year was the creation of the Preservation and Conversation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

This initiative helps to connect the expertise of the PAC Centres more directly to the global library field. Each participating PAC Centre identified key topics in the field of preservation and conservation on which they often receive questions. Each question has been answered with an explanation, best practice advice, and steps to help users tackle preservation and conservation issues.

Check out the Preservation and Conversation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.

PAC Centres and COVID-19

Despite the pandemic and lockdown procedures affecting many planned activities for 2020, the PAC Centres have been active in supporting libraries and the preservation field through this time.

PAC Qatar has provided support to Arab libraries throughout the COVID-19 period through direct response to related technical questions, and through participation and organization of webinars. These includes participation in a webinar with the American Library Association titled: Libraries Reopening: A Perspective of Best Practices from Around the World in the Time of COVID-19.

Work is also underway with University College London – Qatar to issue a guide on preventative measures for use across the region and beyond.

PAC North America is participating in an interagency study on safety practices for libraries, archives, and museums, convened by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and OCLC, called Reopening Archives, Libraries and Museums (REALM). The PAC team is participating in the Scientific Working Group that will review the literature and support laboratory testing to develop safe practices for library operations.

Standards, Guidelines & Best Practices

New this year

Coming Up

  • PAQ Qatar is developing a disaster plan template and tool kit in Arabic for libraries in MENA region with a special focus on conflicts – coming in 2021.
  • The Preservation Services branch of the National Library of Australia is currently researching current approaches to off-gassing requirements for construction materials and paints used for exhibition/display construction. This includes looking into the suite of modern Low/No VOC paints and reviewing the established preservation standard of 4 weeks off-gassing time.


Preservation of Heritage: Article 6 of the EU-DSM by Renata Petrušić

Renata Petrušić, senior librarian at the Croatian Digital Library Development Centre of the Croatian Institute for Librarianship, National and University Library in Zagreb. Responsible for copyright and licencing issues, access and rights management.

1. Can you explain to us what article 6 of the EU-DSM Directive contains?

Article 6 refers to the preservation of cultural heritage. It contains a mandatory exception that allows cultural heritage institutions to make, in any format or medium, preservation copies of all works that they have permanently in their collections.

Recitals 25-29 of the EU-DSM Directive provide details of the scope and objective of Article 6. They state that, in order to achieve preservation goals, cultural heritage institution are allowed to establish cross-border preservation networks, enabling cross-border cooperation and sharing of means of preservation. Recital 29 provides a broad definition of works that are considered to be permanently in the collection of a cultural heritage institution, including works that are “result of a transfer of ownership or a licence agreement, legal deposit obligations or permanent custody arrangements”. In addition, Article 7 stipulates that contractual provision contrary to the exceptions are unenforceable and that technological protection measures should not prevent the creation of preservation copies.

2. Why is this provision important to libraries?

Ensuring the preservation and accessibility of works from their collections for this and future generations have always been the fundamental mission of libraries. In order to achieve this mission, libraries and other cultural heritage institutions need a clear legal framework adapted to the digital age. It is essential to have legislation that allows libraries to take all necessary steps in order to carry out their duties and fulfil a public purpose.

Given that under copyright law, authors have the exclusive right of reproduction, it is crucial to have an exemption to copyright protection which allows libraries to make preservation copies of works without the need to seek permission from the copyright holder. Such an exemption must apply to all types of works or another subject-matter that libraries own or permanently have in their collections, to all formats and media. It is particularly important to emphasize that technical protection measures and contractual provisions must not affect the possibility of making preservation copies.

Although most European countries already have legal provisions that allow acts of reproduction for preservation incorporated in their national laws, inconsistency in the current legal provisions of  EU Member States brings legal uncertainty to preservation efforts carried out by cultural heritage institutions and their partners. Not all libraries have the technical resources and required expertise to carry out preservation programmes and they in that regard need to rely on external contractors and partners. The new mandatory exception will harmonize this exception across the EU, allowing libraries to cooperate across borders, use preservation networks and work with third parties when making preservation copies.

3. What is the best implementation Libraries could hope for with this article?

The provisions of Article 6 are a welcome addition to European legislation ensuring the improvement and harmonisation of exceptions relating to the preservation of cultural heritage throughout the EU. The adoption of the provisions of Article 6 and the definitions in the Recitals as they are set out in the Directive, would ensure that libraries are allowed to:

make preservation copies of all the works from their collections (by the appropriate preservation tool, means or technology, in any format or medium, in the required number, at any point in the life of a work),

– cooperate cross-border,

– share the means of preservation,

– rely on third parties for the making of copies,

– establish cross-border preservation networks,

– make sure that contractual provisions and technological protection measures do not prevent preservation of works.

However, it is possible to go beyond what is set out in the Directive. Ideally, broader exceptions would include permission to make copies of works for all internal uses in libraries, such as indexing and cataloguing, and other activities necessary for management of collection.

4. What is your government’s position on the issue?

Croatia is one of the first EU Member States to introduce a proposal of the transposition of the EU-DSM Directive into national law. A public consultation on the Draft Proposal on Copyright and Related Rights Act was conducted from April to May 2020. The proposed Bill received more than 730 comments. The government is now in the process of preparing a report on the consultation.

The current Croatian Copyright and Related Rights Act includes an exception benefiting cultural heritage institutions to reproduce copyrighted works from their own copy to any media for the purposes of preservation and safeguarding.

The new proposal of the Croatian Copyright and Related Rights Act implements the provisions of Article 6 as they are prescribed by the Directive. Article 182 of the proposed Croatian Copyright Law closely follows the wording of  Article 6, stating that “cultural heritage institutions […] are authorized, without the approval of the right holder and without payment of remuneration, to reproduce copyrighted works and related rights that are a permanent part of their collections, in any format or on any medium, for the purpose of their preservation and to the extent necessary for that purpose”. The same article also states that contractual provisions that are contrary to this exception are null and void, and defines the types of works that are considered to be part of the collections of cultural heritage institutions (as they are defined in Recital 29 of the Directive).

Importantly, proposed Croatian Law has retained the provisions of the current law that go beyond what is allowed in Article 6 of the Directive. Article 184 of the proposed Croatian Law, which refers to exceptions of the reproduction rights, for benefit of particular institutions, states that cultural heritage institutions “may, without the authorisation of the right holder and without payment of remuneration, reproduce a copyrighted work or another subject-matter […], on any medium, for their special needs that are in accordance with their public purposes, such as the needs of preservation and safeguarding of the materials, technical restoration and reparation of the materials, collection management and other own needs, if not acquiring thereby any direct or indirect commercial benefit”.