The Moscow Declaration on Digital Information Preservation
Moscow, October 3-5, 2011
For two millennia – ever since the Library of Alexandria was established – humankind has been learning to preserve information on analogue carriers. With that goal in view, all developed countries had established by the mid-20th century a ramified network of comprehensive and specialized libraries, archives, museums, and scientific and technical information centres. They shared basic functions and actively interacted on their own level and between levels nationally and transnationally. They all were parts of a sophisticated infrastructure comprising the press, research institutes, method-setting centres, the educational and personnel retraining system, national and international professional associations, equipment manufacturing industries, standardizing organizations, etc. The methods and criteria of information source selection, and sophisticated and globally standardized methods of information accounting and storing and metadata creation are regularly updated.
Unlike the situation in analogue data storage, a majority of countries have not yet:
Traditional memory institutions of these countries – libraries, archives and museums – cannot cope with the snowballing amount of digital information, and are making their alarm public.
Convened in Moscow, the conference took place on October 3–5, 2011 to gather approximately 150 participants representing 37 countries: heads and leading experts of major libraries, archives, museums, research institutes, universities, international organizations, government bodies, media outlets, publishers, research and technical information centres, the ICT industry and other entities interested in the elaboration of the theme of digital information preservation.
The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications, the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, the Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme, the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre, and the State Tretyakov Gallery jointly organized the conference within the framework of Russia’s chairmanship in the UNESCO Information for All Programme.
The conference concluded on the necessity of urgent political and practical measures. Otherwise, the world may discover in the near future that:
By guaranteeing reliable passage of information from person to person and from generation to generation, we can prevent the advent of the so-called Dark Information Age, also described as “digital Alzheimer” and “digital amnesia”. Efforts to preserve digital information should start the instant an information object emerges.
Proceeding from the above, conference participants declare the necessity of the following measures in the following spheres:
1. Politics. Support of the formation and development of the philosophy, strategy and policy of preserving digital information at the national and international levels, which comprise the socio-cultural, ethical, legal, economic, administrative, personnel, technical, technological and other aspects. The preservation of digital information must become an inalienable part of cultural, educational, research and information policy, and the policy of information society building.
2. Information/education. Promotion of the awareness of decision-makers and the public-at-large on potential risks and basic principles pertaining to digital information storage, including long-term storage.
3. Education. Promotion of the elaboration, development and circulation of educational curricula and training courses of varying levels for the heads and experts of memory institutions (mainly libraries, archives, museums, and scientific and technical information centres) and other institutions that are (or should be) involved in activities toward the preservation of digital information. Inclusion of basic knowledge and competences connected with digital information preservation in activities/programmes/curricula enhancing the media and information literacy of professionals in the information field and the public-at-large.
4. Research. Promotion of research in the philosophical, political, economic, socio-cultural, organizational, legal, personnel, technological, methodological, method-setting, ethical and other aspects of the preservation of digital information. Support of national and transnational cooperation to elaborate decisions and standards, and experience exchanges for the preservation of digital information.
5. Economy. Elaboration of basic organizational principles of funding the long-term preservation of digital information by traditional memory institutions. Inclusion of the evaluation of efforts, approaches and decisions from the feasibility point in the number of mandatory components of strategies and activities in the preservation of digital information, and raising relevant public awareness.
6. Cooperation. Promotion of interdepartmental cooperation of memory and educational institutions and administrative bodies with private businesses and other stakeholders of digital preservation processes, including public and private initiatives and projects; development of international cooperation.
7. ICT industry. Establishment and strengthening of cooperation with the ICT industry to include procedures promoting/guaranteeing long-term preservation of digital information in operating systems and basic supplementary packages. Promotion of the elaboration and implementation of free and open software for the preservation of digital information.
The conference addresses the following proposals:
to national governments:
© 2006 Russian Committee of UNESCO "Information for All" program