Tag Archives: risk

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 ([email protected]) for more information and support during the registration process.

Consider:

  • 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?

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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

 

The 10-Minute International Librarian #16: Review your risk-management plans

Libraries provide services to their communities that are as varied as they are essential.

This can be particularly true during times of crisis, when people need information – and comfort – more than ever.

But of course to be able to provide services, libraries themselves need to be ready to deal with the unexpected.

It is therefore valuable to have plans for how to deal with risks – for example something that libraries rely on no longer being available.

COVID-19 of course has forced many libraries to find ways to work when they cannot rely on in-person contacts, or even have staff together in person.

There are already great resources at the national level in many countries, while IFLA is working to provide more useful information and ideas through our renewed Risk Register.

So for our 16th 10-Minute International Librarian exercise, review your risk-management plan.

Clearly, carrying out a full review will take more than 10 minutes.

But you can look again at the plans you have in place, and think quickly about what may be missing. In particular faced with COVID-19, almost all libraries will have experience that you can use.

You may not have a single document, or indeed anything formally written down. In this case, it could be a great moment to think about how you could prepare one.

We’d love to hear which resources have been most useful for you in the comments below.

Good luck!

 

This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! 2.3 Develop standards, guidelines, and other materials that foster best professional practice.

As we publish more ideas, you will be able to view these using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box.

New Challenges and Opportunities: COVID and Memory

On International Museum Day, memory institutions, collection-holders, and visitors alike are called to reflect on the power of cultural materials and the stories they tell. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) is calling on its network to rally around this year’s theme: “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion”, celebrating the diversity of perspectives that make up all aspects of museums. Please visit their dedicated website to International Museum Day to see more of this year’s celebrations.

For memory institutions (galleries, libraries, archives, museums), there is a longstanding conversation on the power of cultural heritage as a means to promote cultural exchange, mutual understanding and peace. This conservation is more important than ever this year, as COVID-19 has brought radical changes to all sectors of society.

Let’s take the opportunity of International Museums Day to touch on several points of discussion regarding the effects of COVID-19 on the heritage sector, and what they could mean for libraries and the heritage professionals working therein.

 

Creating Tomorrow’s Heritage

In an earlier blog post, we’ve touched on the importance of primary sources in providing historical context and lessons-learned when facing difficult times. Looking to the past can help people understand how medical, social, and political response at the time mirrors and differs from what they are currently experiencing.

During the American Great Depression of the 1930’s, the government-sanctioned Farm Security Administration hired 10 photographers to go out and document the country during this period of extreme poverty. The goal was to

show people in cities back East what the Great Depression looked like for the rural poor – to give it a human face. The resulting photographs are still today among the most iconic of both this era and of American history as a whole.

Migrant Mother Photograph

“Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange

To me, this story is one that perfectly encapsulates the power of documentation. Not only in the act of supporting the artists and photographers to create material, but in the way this material is used and shared – in this case raising support for relief programmes and legislation.

To pass along the opportunity for future generations to connect to our current experience, there is a need to document the response to COVID-19 now, in as many voices and perspectives as possible.

Libraries are helping record their communities’ responses to COVID-19 and their experiences living with the measures their governments are taking to stop the spread. Libraries in the United States, Australia, Great Britain, Spain and beyond are providing opportunities for their communities to directly share stores, photos, and other primary sources recording their experience.

A child's drawing depicting COVID-19

The Municipal Libraries of Huesca asked children to respond to COVID through art.

For born-digital material relating to COVID-19, the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) has launched a call to record web archiving efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreak. You can contribute on behalf of your institution here: Mapping COVID-19 web archive collections.

This work promises not only to help researchers to develop insights to inform future policies, but also societies as a whole to come to terms with what has happened.

Prioritising Digitisation and Access

With the closure of most cultural institutions worldwide, culture is existing on digital platforms more than ever before. In ICCROM’s recent lecture series, Protecting People and the Heritage in Times of COVID, this phenomenon was discussed in terms of ways digital engagement can bring about a paradigm shift in society’s access to and enjoyment of cultural heritage.

An example that was shared by Shubha Chaudhuri of the American Institute of Indian Studies was that of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) knowledge-bearers, who may be losing their ability to sell goods and performances with the closure of marketplaces and collapse of global tourism.

Libraries and museums can play a role in preserving the core value of ICH as social practice – not just as goods to sell – by providing access to diverse cultural expressions through providing a space for them, preserving materials, and promoting digital access.

Moreover, this period of raised awareness of and participation in culture on digital platforms can be an opportunity to promote the importance of digitisation and access to documentary heritage. More than ever before, there is a sense of urgency to implement the policy of digitisation recommended by UNESCO in the 2015 Recommendation for the Preservation and Access to Documentary Heritage, including in Digital Form.

By tapping into this, libraries can promote digitalisation of collections, secure storage and access to a wide audience who may be more receptive than they were pre-COVID.

 

Multi-hazards: facing new threats

Unfortunately, the disruption caused by COVID-19 compounds pre-existing threats in many of the most vulnerable places in the world. International bodies including UNESCO and Interpol have reported an increase in looting at sites and of illicit trafficking of cultural goods on the international art market.

During ICCROM’s lecture, Abdelhamid Saleh of the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation, which is actively working with museums in Yemen, reports that Yemeni museums are struggling with the interface of disaster, armed conflict and COVID-19. We have heard similar feedback from partners working in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere in the MENA region.

Capacity building in multi-hazard approaches to disaster risk reduction and recovery are necessary. This should include immediate intervention in favour of digitisation and secure storage. In the example from Yemen, museum workers are being trained on security and digital storage, with positive enhancements such as digitised collections beginning to be stored in multiple locations.

Considering that important pieces of documentary heritage are often held in private family collections in the MENA region and elsewhere, addressing these multiple threats are even more dire. There is a need to reach beyond the institution to secure all expressions of cultural heritage.

More than anything, there is a need for international cooperation. Regional practitioners with local knowledge and connections must be backed by a multilateral international effort in order to face these multiple hazards. IFLA is seeking out participation in such partnerships, to ensure libraries and documentary heritage are adequately considered in future interventions.

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In this blog, I’ve identified three areas where the COVID-19 pandemic has affected thinking about how libraries fulfill their mission as memory institutions – archiving the present, digitization and digital access, and developing comprehensive approaches to dealing with risk.

None are new, but in each case, the current situation has helped underline the importance of libraries’ work, and the urgency of action.

But the list is not exhaustive. We would like to hear from you.

What changes to your preservation and conservation practice do you predict for the future?

What new opportunities and challenges will the heritage profession and memory institutions face in the post-COVID world?

We continue to take part in a global conversation with partners in libraries and partner NGOs to help our community face these challenges and take these opportunities to continue preserving and telling our stories.