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The Collections



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

The Collections

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 Timeframe:


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

         Expenditure:    $12,500,00

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
                      th  th
         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.

         Expenditure: $7,500.00

         TOTAL PROJECT EXPENDITURE: $20,000.00

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