Text of the draft unesco resolution on digital preservation proposed by the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (cdnl) The Hague, June 2001 Preservation of digital heritage

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Proposed by the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL)

The Hague, June 2001

Preservation of digital heritage
The General Conference

Recalling that the preservation of and access to the cultural heritage is one of UNESCO’s major concerns,

Considering that, with respect to the preservation of the cultural heritage, UNESCO has initiated several international conventions and recommendations, including the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and has moreover established the ‘Memory of the World’ programme specifically aimed at preservation and access of documentary heritage,

Considering that many of the world’s cultural, educational and scientific resources are increasingly produced, distributed and accessed only in digital form1,

Considering that government and public administration depend more and more on continued access to digital records and documents not available in any other form,

Considering that digital information is highly susceptible to both technical obsolescence –of hardware, software and data formats- and physical decay,

Considering that as the digital information economy rushes to adopt newer formats, older information formats become obsolete at an alarmingly fast rate,

Considering that maintaining on-going access to digital information resources is complex and costly, requiring long-term commitment,

Considering that libraries and archives have traditionally been responsible for safeguarding the intellectual and cultural heritage and the administrative record of nations and are committed to long-term access,

Noting with interest the attention given to this matter in many of the activities proposed under the Organization’s programme for 2002-2003 (draft 35C/5)

Considering that the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL) at the Annual Meeting of August 2000 established a Committee on Digital Preservation to effectively raise awareness -within the library community as well as outside it- of the urgent need to safeguard the digital heritage, and to develop an international research agenda for digital longevity,

Considering that the International Council on Archives at the XIVth International Congress (Seville, Spain, September 2000) has emphasized the need to ensure continuing access to the content and functionality of authentic electronic records, and has called upon National Archivists to provide leadership to ensure the preservation and accessibility of records to secure the rights of citizens

Wishing, nevertheless, that the matter be accorded high priority and presented in a coherent fashion,

1.Urges the Member States of UNESCO, governmental and non-governmental organizations and international, national and private institutions:

  1. to assume responsibility of ensuring the identification, preservation and transmission to future generations of the digital heritage produced on their territory and belonging primarily to the Member State;

  2. to assure that preservation of their digital heritage be given high priority at the national policy level;

  3. to ensure the infrastructure and procedures are in place to preserve our digital heritage and to support national memory organizations, such as national libraries and national archives, in their efforts to do so;

  4. to adapt regulations for national deposit and archival legislation to ensure that preservation of digital heritage can be carried out effectively;

  5. to promote the use of open standards, adherence to standards in the creation of materials, and the development of standard solutions in conjunction with the IT industry,

2. Invites the Director General

  1. to increase in UNESCO’s programmes recognition and awareness of the digital dimension of the cultural heritage;

  2. to extend UNESCO's programmes with an action line specifically aimed at safeguarding the digital heritage, covering such actions as:

  1. raising awareness among governments, information producers, the IT-industry, preservation specialists and the general public of the need to safeguard the digital heritage, which includes materials of critical administrative, economic, social, cultural and artistic value;

  2. developing strategies for pro-active approaches to prevent obsolescence of the digital heritage, on the basis of generally accepted principles governing cultural heritage preservation;

  3. promoting the exchange of information between Member States of good practices and preservation methods, and facilitating the training of specialists in digital preservation;

  4. promoting the participation of libraries, archives, museums and other institutions concerned with the heritage in this endeavour;

  1. to take steps to make sure that digital repositories are set up for publications, archives and documents of UNESCO and other United Nations Agencies.

1 Materials created in digital form are also called ‘born-digital materials’ and include for instance all types of websites and databases, electronic records, e-journals, digital photographs and audiovisual materials and digital text archives.

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