Memory of the World training workshop organized in Bishkek

A palm-leaf collection of folk literature; a genealogy in a dead language, stretching back thousands of years; a traveller’s diary from the 11th century; and administrative records from the 1920s – these were among the draft nominations of documentary heritage brought to the Memory of the World (MOW) Training Workshop in the Asia Region held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from 17 to 20 September 2014.

The fifth in a series of workshops organised by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO in cooperation with UNESCO, the event was co-hosted by the National Commission of the Kyrgyz Republic for UNESCO, and the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea. The Secretary-General of the Kyrgyz National Commission for UNESCO, Elnura Korchueva, welcomed the participants and set the workshop in a national context, describing the nation’s unique history and heritage.

The purpose of this training activity is to encourage countries and institutions that are poorly, or not at all, presented on the MOW Register to submit their nominations and to assist them in this process. Each participant brings to the workshop a draft nomination for an item of documentary heritage from his/her own country.

Participants from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iran attended the workshop and fully benefitted from the training. The nominations were developed and revised in group and plenary sessions, and in discussions with mentors who have long experience in preparing and assessing nominations. The international team of mentors comprised Rujaya Abhakorn (Thailand), Joie Springer (Barbados), Jan Bos (Netherlands), Kyung-ho Suh (Korea) and Ray Edmondson (Australia). The workshop programme included a series of presentations by the mentors, explaining the MOW Programme and the nomination criteria.

On the final day, participants visited the National Library of Kyrgyz Republic and the Manuscript Department of the National Academy of Sciences, where some treasures from the collections of both institutions were presented to them.

Within the framework of its Memory of the World Programme, UNESCO supports capacity-building activities, which are crucial for increasing the number of successful nominations, and for creating a network of new contacts to widen relationships and to share experiences among memory institutions.

UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme is intended to protect documentary heritage, and helps networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for preservation of, and access to, documentary material.