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Sarawakians Discuss Documentary Heritage and Memory of the World

Archivists, conservationists, librarians, and researchers generously shared their knowledge and insights concerning the documentary heritage of Sarawak in a workshop organized by the Sarawak State Library designed to help raise the awareness of the precious documentary heritage in the state and of UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme on 16 and 17 October 2019 in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
 
The participants enthusiastically put forward many quality suggestions, including the Sarawak Gazette which was the first monthly journal that was first published in 1870 during the rule of the “Brooke Rajahs”, the Papan Turai which is a mnemonic device for traditional healers/bards to help them in performing their rituals, the audio recording of unique rituals, chants, and prayers of the indigenous people of Iban, the largest private collection of nearly 30,000 photographic material of old Kuching from 1950-1990s, and the Hikayat Panglima Nikosa, which claimed to be the first Malay language novel written in Jawi in 1876.
 
The Sarawak State Library has the dual function of being the state library as well as the repository to the state’s intellectual heritage. It was appointed as the Secretariat of Sarawak Memory of the World by the State Assembly on 9 May 2019.
 
Dr Ming-Kuok LIM, the Advisor for Communication and Information for UNESCO Office in Jakarta, conducted the two-day workshop where stakeholders were provided an overview of the UNESCO programme in safeguarding documentary heritage at the international, regional, and national levels. Furthermore, the participants also gained knowledge on the nomination process of the Memory of the World Register and the UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize.    
 
UNESCO works together with memory institutions including libraries, archives, and museums to help safeguard and provide access to documentary heritage, especially in digital format, around the world. This is accomplished under the umbrella of the Memory of the World programme and contributes to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in particular the Goal 16 on access to information.