Ensure continuous access to documentary heritage in Central America during pandemic


UNESCO is devolping a plan of action for Central America.Within the context of the closures of archives, libraries and museums in Central America due to the spread of Coronavirus 19, the UNESCO Cluster Office in San Jose, Costa Rica is developing a plan of action and road map to assist these institutions guarantee that citizens have continuous access to documentary heritage and knowledge during this crisis and future crisis.

The action plan and road map will be based on recommendations and ideas which were generated during the online Regional Forum on Access to Information and Coronavirus 19. This event was organized on 13 April 2020 within the framework of the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme which was established by UNESCO in 1992 to promote the preservation of and to universal access to documentary heritage.

During the discussions, participants emphasized that strategies to ensure universal access to documentary heritage must include the use of community media, given that many people do not have a computer or access to the internet in Latin America. However, it was noted that the importance of using social media to share information through webinars, online round tables, podcasts and interactive programmes.

Participants made a wide range of recommendations including organizing workshops for archivists and librarians to empower them to develop inclusive communication plans and to assist them to generate creative and fun content, especially for young people about the importance and relevance of documentary heritage in everyday life. This will require that libraries, museums and archives create and strengthen alliances with key actors including universities, influencers,(and communicators to develop and share this content in an innovative way.

The regional forum is a follow-up activity linked to the Recommendation concerning the Preservation of, Access to, Documentary Heritage in the Digital Era that was approved by UNESCO member states in 2015, and the Statement "Turning the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity for greater support to documentary heritage" which was issued by UNESCO and several international partners in response to the pandemic.

During the forum presentations were made by Mr. Jamion Knight, Associate Programme Specialist for Communication and Information in the UNESCO Cluster Office; Miss Maria Angélica Fuentes Martínez, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Latin American and Caribbean chapter of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA); Mr. Luis Roberto Huezo, Chair of the National Memory of the World Committee (El Salvador); Miss Isela María Mo Amavet, Regional Office Manager, IFLA; Miss Nitida Carranza, Coordinator of the Library and Information Studies Masters Programme, Francisco Morazán National Pedagogical University in Honduras; and Mr. André Diaz, CEO and Creative Director of PuyA!