The role of UNESCO and its Memory of the World programme are the subjects of the Library’s lunchtime lecture on 28 February. The main objective of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication. It is probably best known for its role in the protection of heritage around the world, both physical and digital, for the benefit of current and future generations. In Wales, six sites have been given the status of World Heritage Sites, including four castles, a town built around an ironworks and an incredible aqueduct.
In 1992, UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme to highlight the value of documentary heritage. Importantly, UNESCO sees its value not only in reflecting and promoting understanding of national memory and identity, but also as underpinning good governance and sustainable development. Heritage is therefore part of the sustainable development agenda, which is the centre-piece of both UNESCO and the wider UN’s activities until 2030.
To be inscribed onto the Memory of the World, documents need to be both of outstanding national or international significance, and permanently accessible and re-usable to all without hindrance. The work of the NLW supports and aligns with these aims. Since its foundation, the Library has been committed to collecting, preserving and giving access to all kinds and forms of recorded knowledge, especially relating to Wales and the Welsh and other Celtic peoples, for the benefit of all. The Library’s strategic plan places an emphasis on extending sustainable access to its collections, through digitisation, through the preservation of physical and digital material and through outreach activities.
Peniarth MS 1 – The Black Book of Carmarthen
The Library has four inscriptions on the Memory of the World UK Register: the Survey of the Manors of Crickhowell and Tretower; the Life Story of Lloyd George, the Peniarth Manuscript Collection and the Hepworth Cinema Interviews. Andrew Green, the former Librarian of the National Library of Wales, posted a blog about the value of UNESCO inscriptions. He identified three types of value which ensued from inscription on the register: gaining public recognition, securing publicity and attracting resources. These have certainly been true for the Library, which has used the inscriptions to promote the Library’s collections, thereby enhancing understanding of the distinctive character and identity of Wales, as well as supporting the successful submission for Archive Service Accreditation and for numerous applications for grant funding. The global role of UNESCO is also of considerable value to the Library, as it is an authoritative voice for the protection of the heritage and a source of information and best practice.