What is the UNESCO Archives Digitization Laboratory (the “Lab”)?
The Lab is a space of ideas and a crossroads where unique archival heritage meets the best of current digitization technologies. Together with our partner Picturae BV, we have installed advanced digitization equipment, as well as storage, processing and quality control workspaces where project team members are undertaking a 2 year project led by the UNESCO Archives.
When is this happening?
It’s happening right now! The Lab was installed in February 2018 and digitization of a number of the collections is already well underway. After material gets indexed, digitized and quality checked in the Lab, it gets uploaded to our digital asset management system and is made available on the website in near real-time.
Where is the Lab located?
The Lab is located at UNESCO Headquarters in the beautiful 7th arrondissement of Paris, France.
Why do digitization on-premise?
We decided to install a Lab on-premise at UNESCO for two reasons: first, we wanted to avoid, as much as practically possible, the transport of unique, one-of-a-kind archives off-site, as this would substantially increase of the risk of damage or loss; second, we wanted the project to be as visible as possible for UNESCO staff, UNESCO’s Member States and public visitors to the Headquarters complex. We know from experience that projects such as this one, if out of sight, are often out of mind. So for the project team, it was important to be able to demonstrate and communicate on an on-going basis the value, complexity and sheer scale of such an ambitious undertaking.
What’s special about the Lab?
Well, in addition to the great team members and the advanced equipment, one of the most innovative aspects of the Lab is the “fish bowl” design. One whole wall of the Lab is glass, so visitors and passers-by can see what’s going in the Lab without having to worry about disturbing the team working inside. The “fish bowl” is of course an important aspect of project communication.
How long will the Lab operate?
For the time being, the Lab is scheduled to operate until the end of 2019 digitizing the collections currently in scope.
If you’d like to know more about what else we’ve got in the UNESCO Archives or are interested in opportunities to partner with us, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Slideshow photos @UNESCO/C.Alix