Efforts Worldwide

A number of organizations can assist with preservation issues. These organizations conduct training and workshops, give advice on funding sources, post their publications on the World Wide Web, and assist on a regional, national, and international basis when preservation questions arise.


The mission of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, or IFLA, is to serve as the global voice of the library and information profession. With a current membership of 143 countries, IFLA has regional sections in Africa, Asia and Oceania, Latin America, and the Caribbean to support its mission. IFLA also has working relations with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), UNESCO, and the United Nations.


A significant example of coordinated action is the Caribbean Disaster Information Network (CARDIN). CARDIN is a framework of organizations in the Caribbean region involved in disaster response and management. Founded in 1999, it is funded by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). The main objective of CARDIN is to serve as a clearinghouse of information about disasters, which can be accessed through its database. Thus far, CARDIN has put out three publications, all from the University of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica (2000): "Organizing Disaster Information Units: A Training Manual," "Controlled Vocabulary on Disaster Information," and "Caribbean Disaster Information: A Bibliography."

Other organizations

Many organizations have readily accessible information on the World Wide Web. The Asian Disaster Reduction Center provides, on their website, a glossary on natural disasters, disaster information from 23 member countries, the latest disaster information, and an Internet exhibition. Many sites provide answers to questions or links to other sources.

The need for the continuing involvement of these organizations with individual libraries will not lessen in the future. New technologies actually facilitate cooperation by providing Web access and the ability to develop interactive databases. The advantages of taking cooperative, centralized action are manifold:

  • Cooperative preservation efforts by a group of libraries prevent duplication and reduce costs;
  • Centers of excellence promote the centralization of capital-intensive equipment such as leaf casters, ultrasonic encapsulators, and microfilm cameras/scanners, and of facilities such as cold storage;
  • Regional preservation centers allow for the specialization of expert staff, thus reducing staff training and education time;
  • Regional centers have more cost-effective ways of conducting preservation and disseminating information;
  • Funders are more likely to support cooperation than individual effort; and
  • When regional centers are involved as representatives, decisions may be made quickly and implemented without unnecessary delay.

Discussion among librarians and preservation professionals of possible cooperation often leads to common solutions and grant-funded projects. National or regional library association meetings are often valuable in this regard.

Starting a cooperative model

One of the difficulties with cooperative models is trying to include too many members with too many objectives. Experience shows that simple models work best.

Successful cooperative ventures tend to involve relatively few participants with modest objectives. Participants are encouraged to set objectives that are simple and achievable. Once it has established a record of success, the program soon attracts other institutions.

Typically, one librarian develops a successful cooperative idea and convinces a colleague in another institution of its merit. Because the proposal is easily understood and seems controllable, there is usually ready agreement from the senior administrators of the two institutions involved. A good idea being infectious, the ground has been prepared for a cooperative venture that could eventually include several institutions. This is the way most successful multinational corporations start, and there is no reason for preservation professionals not to emulate their avenue to success.

One fruitful strategy is to establish a local or regional preservation interest group. The group, set up informally by one librarian or preservation professional, can hold semi-social monthly meetings to listen to a speaker or see a technical demonstration. Although the group is made up of interested individuals rather than institutions, informal interaction often leads to cooperation.