Documentary Heritage Preservation and Access in Tajikistan: Support for
National Capacity Building
Tajikistan has returned to a reasonable level of stability in the last few years after a decade of internal
conflict and insecurity. During that period the ability of national cultural and educational authorities to
protect, manage and provide access to information holdings throughout the country was gravely impacted
Numerically, over 50% of pre-conflict library, archive and museum professionals and their support staff
are no longer working to service the collections, the Tajik public and specialist researchers. While most
collections, particularly those in the capital, Dushanbe, survived, facilities for preservation are at an
abject, almost totally unresourced level and some of the heritage is in a most endangered condition.
Although Tajikistan has a strong traditional base of scholarship and ability to care for its heritage, much of
this capability has been eroded. For instance, although it had a strong history of the training of
professional librarians, the new Department of Library and Information Sciences at the University of
Dushanbe does not possess a single computer.
Much of Tajikistan’s documentary heritage and written and printed information base was destroyed or
dislocated in the early decades of the Soviet era. Many works of world heritage and scholarly and spiritual
significance are also held in major museums and libraries across the globe. That which remains within the
national boundaries of the Republic of Tajikistan is thus concerned to be particularly precious to the Tajik
Tajikistan has responded positively and actively to UNESCO support for its documentary heritage through
the formation of an active National Committee of the Memory of the World Programme, through
progressing nominations to the MOW World Register and through the collaborative establishment of a
regional MOW Memory of Central Asia network with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Throughout all the years of war, Tajikistan demonstrated a conscious national and popular commitment to
the preservation of its culture by continuing to build and equip a new National Museum of Antiquities
which was recently opened to the public.
The documentary resources of Tajikistan are not only fundamental to the functioning of Tajik society and
to Tajik identity but much of its documentary heritage is of inestimable value to the region as a whole and
to humankind. Tajik culture is a literary culture
Most of Tajikistan’s information and documentary heritage resources are located in the capital,
Dushanbe. There is a rural public library system which provides access to modern books and periodicals.
Only in a few locations, such as Kulob and Khodjent, are there minor holdings of earlier documentary
The key national information institutions in Dushanbe are the National Library of Tajikistan, the Central
Scientific Library of Tajikistan, the Institute of Oriental Studies and Written Heritage of the Tajikistan
Academy of Sciences, and the National Archives of Tajikistan all of which have manuscript, printed and
other holdings of inestimable value to Tajikistan’s documentary heritage.
The National Library of Tajikistan houses some 3 million volumes, including 2,000 historical
manuscripts, 10,000 rare printed books and a significant collection of audio materials.
The Central Scientific Library of Tajikistan houses some 1.5 million volumes, including 2,000
historical manuscripts, 15,000 rare printed books, a large and important cartographic collection
and a unique card-based Tajikistan information catalogue of 4 million items.
The Institute of Oriental Studies and Written Heritage of the Tajikistan Academy of Sciences
houses a large collection of research volumes, including 7,000 historical manuscripts.
The National Archives of Tajikistan is the main official record repository of the country and has
such contains substantial (and as yet un-numerated) holdings (including the archives of the
former ruling Communist Party) holdings of historical and practical importance. It has a large and
significant film collection.
There are also some university faculties and departments with information holdings of national
Documentary Heritage Management Planning and Capacity Building Project
This project will function within the context of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme and aims to:
provide planning data and basic operational resources fundamental to Tajikistan’s ability to
effectively protect, manage and provide access to its documentary heritage and other key
information resources and
properly represent Tajikistan’s developmental and capacity building needs to UNESCO and
other potential sources of understanding and support.
Project Activity 1:
Expert evaluation of the documentary heritage and related information resources, management
and access infrastructure of Tajikistan.
This task will be undertaken by an international expert who will assess relevant legislative and
management infrastructures, professional development needs, collections preservation
requirements and heritage significance, potential for new technology applications to enhance
preservation and access and who will provide recommendations for the strategic and practical
development of Tajikistan’s documentary heritage resources.
Integrated with the above activity will be support by the international expert, on the basis of the
heritage significance survey and preservation requirements components, to Tajik experts in
developing a Tajikistan National Register for the Memory of the World Programme and in
developing further nominations to the MOW World Register
Project Activity 2:
Pilot project to prepare a new electronic catalogue (with CD availability) of the holdings of
Academician S.F. Oldenburg at the Central Scientific Library of Tajikistan. This activity will
provide local experience and basic resources to assist in the development of Tajikistan’s
capabilities to provide effective and efficient access to its documentary heritage.
Sergey Feyodorovich Oldenburg (d.1937) was a pioneering scientist, who was a member of the
Russian Geographical Society and Academy of Sciences and first Chairman of the Tajikistan
Base (later Branch) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. His collection of 5,000 volumes (dating
from the 17 -20 centuries) on the history, literature, languages and religions of Central Asia and
neighboring regions is considered of major importance in Tajikistan, particularly in supporting
studies in the Tajik and Persian literary heritage.
The C.I. Unit of the Unesco Almaty Cluster Office for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will
provide technical and operational support to this activity in collaboration with Tajik experts.
TOTAL PROJECT EXPENDITURE: $20,000.00