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International PAC/IFLA program

International PAC/IFLA program: activities and projects

PAC endeavors to raise awareness among professionals responsible for looking after cultural assets of the need to protect documentary heritage. It does this by organizing and/or taking part in seminars, symposiums, and training workshops.

Seminars and symposiums


View the program of seminars, symposiums, and lectures organized by PAC on the IFLA website.

Symposium “From the production to the long-term preservation of digital objects: international experiences”

PAC organized this international symposium in Paris from 25 to 27 April 2007, in conjunction with BnF and the National Heritage Institute (Institut national du patrimoine).
The goal was to propose a state of the art through contributions by experts in the field and to clarify the key issues by presenting not only French experience and choices, but also international achievements.
The subjects covered fell into three main areas:
  • data production
  • collecting digital objects and, in particular, web archiving
  • problems in preserving digital data (risk management, open archives, OAIS, etc.)

Symposium “The 3Ds of Preservation: Disasters, Displays, Digitization”

This symposium, held in Paris on 8-10 March 2006, was organized by PAC, BnF, and IFLA’s “Preservation and Conservation” Section. It focused on three major aspects of preservation:
  • protecting library collections and cultural heritage more generally in the event of disasters
  • measures for protecting documents during exhibitions
  • long-term preservation of digital documents

les actes du symposium (version biblingue français/anglais) [fichier .pdf - 1,25 Mo - 144 p. - 06/12/06]


Since 1996, PAC has, for example, contributed to various training workshops organized, in particular, in Africa and Latin America. It focuses its efforts on the critical subject of disaster prevention and emergency planning. Three workshops have been run: one on earthquakes in September 2003 in Mexico, one on natural disasters in May 2004 in Trinidad and Tobago, and one in February 2005 in Cuba.

PAC also contributes to the international training course on archives, and works with BnF’s Preservation Services Department to organize the international training course on preservation.


In order to accurately assess needs, PAC regularly conducts surveys in regions where demand appears most justified, including in particular Africa and Latin America.

Preservation in Africa

A survey began in 2001 to assess the status of collections of newspapers and periodicals of national interest held by libraries and archives in African countries. IFLA’s Newspapers Section is now responsible for this ongoing survey, which falls within the remit of the JICPA, a joint IFLA/CIA committee on preservation in Africa.

Preservation in Latin America

A survey was conducted in conjunction with ABINIA to gain a better understanding of the preservation situation in each Latin American country.

Questionnaire responses revealed a situation that varied widely depending on the type of country and library. Priorities were established once the survey had been concluded, including the creation of regional centers specializing in preservation and laboratories to conserve heritage documents, and the implementation of national standards and policies.


Every library has to deal with the issues of deterioration in collections and paper acidity, which causes documents to degrade over time. Most of the solutions put forward to resolve these issues are very expensive: microfilming and/or digitization of at-risk documents, mass deacidification, etc.

One preventive measure which is much more economical in the long term consists of printing on so-called “permanent” paper. European standard ISO 9706 and American standard ANSI/NISO Z3948-1992 lay down the characteristics of such paper:

  • pH of between 7.5 and 10
  • alkaline reserve equivalent to 2% calcium carbonate
  • a Kappa number (indicating lignin content) of less than 5
  • tear resistance greater than 350 mN for papers of 70 g/m2 and above
Logo iso 9706

Permanent paper – i.e. paper meeting ISO 9706 criteria – must bear this symbol.

PAC is encouraging publishers to increasingly use permanent paper. It was involved in writing a resolution which was presented by Canada at the UNESCO General Conference in November 1997. UNESCO adopted the resolution, made a commitment to publish its official documents on permanent paper, and invited its member states to do likewise.

Issue 15 of International Preservation News is dedicated to permanent paper.

Protection of documentary heritage

UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” program

In 1992, UNESCO launched the “Memory of the World program to protect documentary heritage. IFLA and PAC have been actively involved in this program from the outset, writing guidelines and conducting a survey on the status of preservation in libraries around the world.

International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS)

The International Committee of the Blue Shield consists of the following four non-governmental organizations:

  • ICA (International Council on Archives)
  • ICOM (International Council of Museums)
  • ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites)
  • IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions)

ICBS was established in 1996 to protect cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict or natural disaster and coordinate preventive action to cope with and respond to emergency situations. It represents an outstanding pool of experts who are available to provide advice and assistance during events such as the war in former Yugoslavia and hurricanes in Central America. These international initiatives are backed up by local initiatives. Various countries have set up their own national committees.

The French Committee of the Blue Shield (Comité français du Bouclier Bleu) was formed in June 2001 in the form of a non-profit association governed by the 1901 Act.

  • For more information
    Christiane Baryla
    Email :

Survey on emergency planning in national libraries

Major risks to which collections are exposed in the event of natural disasters mean that an emphasis is now being placed on emergency planning. A decision was therefore made at the IFLA Conference in Berlin in 2003 to carry out investigative work on this subject with national libraries.

A summary of this survey was presented at the IFLA Conference in Buenos Aires in August 2004. An issue of International Preservation Issues was dedicated to Disaster preparedness and planning.

Friday, April 8, 2011


PAC Centre International
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Quai François Mauriac
75706 PARIS Cedex 13
Phone : +33-(0)1-53795970
Fax : +33-(0)1-53795980
Email :