The Library of the United Nations Office at Geneva - Custodian of League of Nations and United Nations Heritage

BLUKACZ-LOUISFERT, Blandine (2014) The Library of the United Nations Office at Geneva - Custodian of League of Nations and United Nations Heritage. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 201 - Government Information and Official Publications with Government Libraries. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
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The Library of the United Nations Office at Geneva - Custodian of League of Nations and United Nations Heritage

The Library of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), previously the League of Nations Library, was founded in 1919 and became the UNOG Library when the League’s assets were transferred to the United Nations in 1946. The Library continues to carry out its historic role “to serve as a centre of international research and an instrument of international understanding”, thus keeping alive the visionary idea of John D. Rockefeller Jr., who, in 1927, contributed two million dollars to endow the League of Nations with a modern library suitable for the study of international relations. With collections dating back to 1919 and totaling more than one million volumes, 9,000 serials, numerous official government documents, as well as over three million documents from the United Nations system publications collection, the UNOG Library is the largest in the United Nations system. It specializes in international law, international relations, economics, politics and the social sciences. In addition to these library collections, the UNOG Library is the curator of the exceptional archival collection of both the League of Nations and the United Nations in Geneva. Inscribed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2009, the three linear kilometers of archives of the League of Nations – the world’s first intergovernmental organization for peace and cooperation – have exceptional heritage value and represent an outstanding resource for historical research on international relations. The most significant part of the archives of the United Nations in Geneva relate to the drafting of the Universal Declaration and the Covenants on Human Rights, and include other essential material produced from 1946 to present by the successive human rights institutions, by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and by other UN Secretariat entities in Geneva. The UNOG Library is also the custodian of a collection of more than 2,000 artworks dating from the League of Nations period to the present, most of them donated by Member States. From a heritage perspective, the collection – a representation of artistic endeavor from all corners of the world – is a unique and precious part of the story of internationalism, which began in Geneva in 1919. This paper will present these invaluable heritage collections and the role of the Library not only in terms of their preservation – including today’s challenge of digital preservation – but also in making them available to an increasing audience worldwide. Standing by this commitment, the Library has developed an outreach programme and is implementing digitization projects in partnership with other renowned libraries and academic institutions, as well as with United Nations member states governments.

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