United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library

St Petersburg UniversityCreating partnerships with libraries in the Commonwealth of Independent States: Regional Workshop To Promote Knowledge Sharing, 17-20 June 2008, St. Petersburg, Russia

The main objective of this regional workshop was to bring together United Nations depository libraries, particularly national libraries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, to encourage the promotion of information and knowledge sharing.  In the past, depository libraries have primarily been recipients of UN documentation and information, but did not have active public relations roles in promoting UN priorities.  The aim of this workshop was to create a network of national libraries in the CIS to work with the UNIC in Moscow and the UN Offices in the region.  Depository libraries would act as partners in actively promoting UN information rather than being passive depositories.

This workshop had been organized by the Dag Hammarskjold Library of the United Nations in collaboration with the School of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University.  The DHL/OD was represented by three facilitators/instructors. The Dean, Vice-Dean, professors in the school and students, were instrumental in making this event a success. Students assisted with logistics and interpretation, (most of the workshop was in Russian. They provided excellent support.

A total of eighteen participants attended, primarily directors or senior officials from UN depository libraries and national or university libraries in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Other participants included a representative from the national Library of Buryat Republic, Russian Federation, a representative from the UNIFEM Regional Office for the CIS in Almaty, an information officer from the UNO in Minsk, and the Director and the Reference Assistant from the UNIC in Moscow.

Presentations focused on the evolving role for libraries, new directions and future roles for UN partner libraries, outreach strategies, sources of information about and by the UN, how to access UN information and documentation, and the sharing of UN knowledge. Group work, practical sessions and a visit to the National Library of Russia, were also organized. The final sessions focused on defining an action plan for a new UN Partner Library System.

In their evaluation, the participants overwhelmingly found the workshop very useful, particularly the sessions that provided practical information on finding and using UN information.

Follow-up: UN Partner Libraries

Plans for undertaking the following action and activities were discussed by participants

  • Identifying new ideas on how to disseminate UN messages, including articles in newspapers, radio interviews, and issuing special publications.
  • Organizing exhibits, round tables and lectures.
  • Focusing on youth through methods aimed specifically at them, possibly using SMS campaigns and other means.

All the participants gave presentations on how they plan to develop marketing/information campaigns for the International Day of Peace and the International Year of Languages.  As one workshop exercise, they drafted stories to be used in the media on the workshop itself and its impact.
Follow-up: DHLink/OD/DPI

This is the fourth in a series of regional workshops that have been held over the last three years championing the idea of rethinking the depository library programme and giving increased focus to library/information outreach.  These discussions have met with considerable enthusiasm.  A change in the depository library programme is now overdue and the Outreach Division should place more emphasis on support and assistance to these key institutional partners.

The following is a partial list of follow-up action points from this event and previous workshops.

  • Organize an inter-Departmental meeting at a senior level to discuss how to change the policy and process of disseminating UN documentation and publications to ensure a more targeted and timely approach.
  • Work with SCD on creating closer links with partner libraries through UNICS.
  • Prepare a Guide to key UN publications and online services, giving information on scope, periodicity, and access.  This would be both a printed and web based product.
  • Create an online interactive web-based publication for UN partner libraries, UN KnowledgeNet, providing up-to-date information on new publications, issues and advice on accessing and using this information and encouraging dialogue amongst the network.
  • Post an iSeek story on the St. Petersburg event and the new partnership programme.

This regional workshop created the impetus for change. Partner institutions are no longer satisfied with the current, out-of-date system of receiving documents. This programme needs to evolve into a more active and dynamic approach.