background image
he third objective formulated in the
initial meeting was to promote aware-
ness of the materials and the programme
through both events and products. This
resulted directly in the creation of the
Memory of the World Register (http://
ter/), a list of documentary heritage that
has been identified by the International
Advisory Committee as being of world sig-
nificance. Another UNESCO resource, the
World Heritage List (http://whc.unesco.
org), is an international list that brings
together man-made cultural monuments
and sites with naturally occurring herit-
age sites. Countries nominate individual
sites and the World Heritage Committee
votes to select those to be included on the
list and ensures that there is balanced geo-
graphical representation. There are currently
754 properties from 129 countries inscribed
on the World Heritage List (582 cultural,
149 natural and 23 mixed). The Memory
of the World Register is like a young sis-
ter of the World Heritage list, focusing on
documentary heritage of all kinds (e.g. film,
sound, manuscripts and archives) rather
than monuments. It was created after our
1997 meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and
is therefore relatively recent in terms of the
whole project. There are currently 91 items
on the register from 45 different countries,
including some real masterpieces such as
Fritz Lang's film Metropolis (which we are
showing to heighten awareness of the pro-
gramme) and the Gutenberg Bible.
he idea of the Memory of the World
Register, as well as our other activi-
ties, is to draw attention to our work, not
(like the World Heritage List) to provide
a financial or legal commitment to the
projects and resources featured. UNESCO
does fund some activities in poorer coun-
tries but is under no obligation, by includ-
ing a property on the register, to provide
support for it.
fter ten years and six project meetings,
the Memory of the World programme
celebrated its anniversary by returning to
Poland to meet at Gdansk in August 2003
at the invitation of Lech Walesa, former
President of the Republic of Poland and
Nobel Prize winner. 9
ational committees have now been
formed in 59 countries across the
world to identify digitisation priorities
and address issues at a more local level.
Committees at a regional level also consider
the best way to preserve and provide access
to multinational documentary heritage.
These regional committees have their own
Web sites and meetings.
he Memory of the World Programme
also creates and distributes products
derived from the programme such as CD-
ROMs (of which we now have more than
twenty) and technical documents, guiding
future work in preservation or access. These
documents are published in multiple lan-
guages and are free. We are also beginning
training programmes all over the world to
share experiences among different people
and places.
emory of the World is an exam-
ple of a wide-reaching international
project that uses a hierarchical organisation
to encourage access to the most valuable
documentary assets of the world. Although
relatively recent in terms of UNESCO, the
sea change in attitudes towards digitisa-
tion have been observed first-hand through
Memory of the World's activities, and the
incorporation of expert opinions emphasis-
es its theme of sharing knowledge of these
artefacts with as many people as possible.`
ore information about this project
and UNESCO can be found from
the Web site at
Extracts from the UNESCO publication ,,Safeguarding the documentary
heritage of humanity". Used with permission.
A poster for the film Metropolis outside the Bibliothéque nationale de



9 Walesa was revolutionary in demanding workers' rights,
leading the movement from a Gdansk shipyard where
he worked as an electrician. Becoming chairman of the
Solidarity labour union, he was involved in the formation
of elections and the establishment of a non-communist
government. More about Walesa's Twenty-One Demands
can be found by searching Memory of the World at http://